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Cottage Grove composer in contest to score a film

Mike Marier of Cottage Grove

Mike Marier has been composing music for years. Now he must waiting a few more days before learning whether he will have a lot more to compose.

Marier, a Cottage Grove resident, is one of five finalists in a competition to score the full-length independent film "The Storm Within." The winner is being chosen based on an online voting contest. People can listen to the pieces and select their favorite until 11 p.m. Oct. 25.

Marier, 35, learned of the contest while surfing the American Composers Forum website for professional opportunities. He saw the posting shortly before the contest deadline, so wrote his piece in about three weeks.

Marier was confident in his three-and-a-half-minute composition, but did not expect to be chosen in his first music contest. His previous compositions mainly included works for church choirs.

"I was shocked, but I knew my piece was good enough to be in the competition," he said. "I didn't know if it's what they wanted."

Contestants were given the first five pages of the script and a plot synopsis to "The Storm Within." The faith-based film takes place during a winter storm in Chicago in 1967, and tells the story of a woman who opens her home during the blizzard and grapples with her own past and relationships with those who are staying at her home.

"That's what I had to go on," he said.

He decided that winter was a theme to explore in his piece, along with emotional turmoil. He wrote his composition, "Winter's Mourn" or "Winter's Mourning," and used a synthesized orchestra and computer program to produce the music.

Marier should know by the end of the month whether his composition is chosen to be used during the film's opening credits. If he wins, he receives $500 cash and a $3,000 contract to score the entire film.

It is difficult to find lucrative composing deals, but the experience of winning this contest would be more important than the cash prize, Marier said.

"It's not a huge sum of money, but it's a getting-started thing," he said.

To listen to Marier's composition and the others in the contest, go to

Scott Wente

Scott Wente has been editor at the South Washington County Bulletin since 2011. He worked as a reporter at other Forum Communications newspapers from 2003 to 2011.

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