"Up In The Air"


A dream came true for Kirkwood High grad Kevin Renick when his song was featured in new George Clooney movie



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Kevin Renick has written over 100 songs and is now working on his first CD. photo by Diana Linsley (click for larger version)
December 04, 2009
Kevin Renick's life is up in the air--with a dream come true. Renick's song "Up in the Air" is featured in the new George Clooney movie "Up in the Air."

The highly-acclaimed movie was filmed in St. Louis and is due to be released later this month. Renick, a 1975 Kirkwood High grad and 1983 Webster University grad, is in high spirits -- in an otherwise down year for many folks.

When Jason Reitman, director of "Up in the Air," spoke at Webster University in February, Renick saw it as an opportunity to show his stuff. Renick had written a song the previous year entitled "Up in the Air" and thought it was only a coincidence that the titles were the same. As Renick researched the film, however, he discovered what the plot was all about and was shocked that the theme of the film was much the same as the song he had written.

"The song is about uncertainty, disconnection and loneliness, while alluding to career transition," Renick explained. "It's a melancholy song, and a narrative about finding out where your life's going to go."

When Renick graduated from Webster University in the early 1980s with a major in English and a journalism emphasis, he said he never dreamed that his own music would one day find a place in a Hollywood film. As a staff reporter for The Journal campus newspaper at Webster, Renick said he acted on his passion for entertainment writing and movie reviews.

"I worked on The Journal campus newspaper obsessively," Renick recalled of his reviews and writing. "People made fun of me because I wrote so much."

Never pursuing a career in music, because he thought it wasn't realistic, Renick still engaged in writing music as a hobby at home. Having written more than 100 songs, today Renick is working on recording his first CD album which will include 18 songs.

Renick's musical bent has been inspired by role models such as Neil Young. His mother also was an artistic influence and Renick described her as his best friend.

"Neil Young has been the biggest influence as a musician. I wouldn't have written music if not for him," Renick said.

After realizing that his "Up in the Air" song would be perfect for the Clooney film, Renick recorded a version of the song onto a cassette tape.He did not have the appropriate technology for an mp3 version.

He attended Reitman's speech about film at Webster University, and during the Q and A session of the talk Renick asked a question about the movie, ending his query by telling Reitman about his song and asking Reitman if he would be willing to listen to a demo. Reitman hesitantly agreed, Renick said.

"Reitman did explain that he liked getting music in unconventional ways," Renick said.

Though he didn't hear a word from Reitman for months about the demo, one day Renick answered the phone six months later and it was Randall Poster, a music producer for "Up in the Air." Poster asked Renick if he would be able to send him an mp3 version of his song.

Poster told Renick he wanted the exact version that was on the cassette because Reitman liked "the do-it-yourself aesthetic" of the song.

"Reitman is open to ideas and open to little coincidences and interested in music," Renick said. "He's a cool guy and an amazing film maker."

Renick then decided that it would be in his best interest to get a manager since the producers were serious about considering his song for the movie. He hired a close friend, Robynn Ragland, to be his manager throughout the process.

A few weeks after getting the call from Poster, Renick's manager, Ragland, received a letter of intent in the mail from Paramount Pictures stating that the song was going to be put into the film "Up in the Air."

Renick's life has changed dramatically since the fateful phone call. He was laid off earlier this year from a job that he had worked at for 15 years. He was not able to pay his bills. Now he is getting music gigs, local and national media interviews, and his song in "Up in the Air" was even being considered as a nominee for an Oscar.

"This is so amazing," said Renick. "I can't pay my bills, but my song is in a movie and I am getting national recognition."

Renick played music this week at Vintage Vinyl in University City. His next booking in Webster Groves is 7-10 p.m., Jan. 22, at the Grove Deli in Old Orchard.

He played his famous song at the VIP pre-screening of "Up in the Air" at the Tivoli Theatre a few weeks ago and will be playing that same song at several more venues in association with the movie opening.

"It's going to be very emotional for me, seeing the music credits at the end of the movie," Renick said.

On Thursday, Dec. 3, The National Board of Review of Motion Pictures named "Up in the Air" the best film of 2009. The film's star, George Clooney, tied with Morgan Freeman for best actor honors. The film also garnered a best supporting actress award for Anna Kendrick and best adapted screenplay for Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner.

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