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Topic: O/T: Film Scores

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  1. #1

    O/T: Film Scores

    Hi Everyone,

    I was watching "Falling Down" for the second time on DVD the other day. I think the score was James Horner. The scene where Detective Duvall shoots Douglas on Venice Pier and Douglas does a slow motion dive over pier railing, backed by this great solo horn. For those that score to film, what is the process for those scenes? Do director and composer collaborate before hand, throwing out ideas so that film and music enhance each other? Or does composer simply get raw film after the fact and "does the best he/she can"? I think so many poignant film scenes were great because the film and music matched so well - but wonder how that comes about. My guess is that many scenes missed potential greatness due to lack of composer/director pre-flim collaboration.

    Joanne

    P.s. Shooting someone is naturally a horrible thing and not meaning to trivialize, but addressing from a more technical view...

  2. #2

    Post Re: O/T: Film Scores

    Quote Originally Posted by Joanne Babunovic
    Hi Everyone,

    I was watching "Falling Down" for the second time on DVD the other day. I think the score was James Horner. The scene where Detective Duvall shoots Douglas on Venice Pier and Douglas does a slow motion dive over pier railing, backed by this great solo horn. For those that score to film, what is the process for those scenes? Do director and composer collaborate before hand, throwing out ideas so that film and music enhance each other? Or does composer simply get raw film after the fact and "does the best he/she can"? I think so many poignant film scenes were great because the film and music matched so well - but wonder how that comes about. My guess is that many scenes missed potential greatness due to lack of composer/director pre-flim collaboration.

    Joanne

    P.s. Shooting someone is naturally a horrible thing and not meaning to trivialize, but addressing from a more technical view...
    Hello Joanne,

    The score for Falling Down was composed by James Newton Howard. I'd assume James collaborated with the director, Joel Schumacher, as to the specifics of each scene after shooting was completed and the film was in the editing phase. This is normal for the majority of films, with the exception of films that require "pre-records" such as musicals or any scenes that center around a specific piece of music written for the film and need to be choreographed to the music.

    James would have been working to various iterations of the raw film as it progressed through editing. He would be directed by conversations and notes shared with the director and possibly the producers during several spotting sessions in which the entry, exit and purpose of the music for each scene he is scoring is discussed.

    As far as a scene and it's respective score matching well, this is due to several factors including the skill and sensibilities to picture of the composer as well as his or her ability to translate the director's requests and vision for a scene into music. It is these same factors that contribute to a scene's success... or failure.

    Best wishes,

    Kaveh

    www.kavehcohen.com

  3. #3
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    Re: O/T: Film Scores

    Also, some writers will write quite a bit of material just from the script if time allows and that's the way they want to work. This gives them quite a bit of material to work from at the later date of seeing rushes and final cuts.

  4. #4

    Re: O/T: Film Scores

    Quote Originally Posted by Joanne Babunovic
    The scene where Detective Duvall shoots Douglas on Venice Pier and Douglas does a slow motion dive over pier railing...
    Dagnabit! Now I know what happens!
    ---------------------------
    - SCA - Sound Studios -
    www.sca-soundstudios.com
    ---------------------------

  5. #5

    Re: O/T: Film Scores

    I would say both from personal experience and from discussions with other composers that every single case is different so your question is too broad for anyone to really answer.

    In some films there is hardly any communication between the director and composer (in some rare cases the director doesn't even hire the composer or doesn't really care....but it happens), in other films the director is so involved that he is practically holding the fingers of the composer as her plays the notes (figuratively of course, but some directors fancy themselves composers and will ask the composer to develop a theme that they (the directors) might have come up with).

    Generally, the process is such a rush job that it's amazing what manages to get done in such a short period of time!
    >>Kays
    http://www.musicbykays.com
    Music Composition for Feature Films, Television and Interactive Entertainment

  6. #6

    Re: O/T: Film Scores

    Quote Originally Posted by Joanne Babunovic
    Hi Everyone,

    I was watching "Falling Down" for the second time on DVD the other day. I think the score was James Horner. The scene where Detective Duvall shoots Douglas on Venice Pier and Douglas does a slow motion dive over pier railing, backed by this great solo horn. For those that score to film, what is the process for those scenes? Do director and composer collaborate before hand, throwing out ideas so that film and music enhance each other? Or does composer simply get raw film after the fact and "does the best he/she can"? I think so many poignant film scenes were great because the film and music matched so well - but wonder how that comes about. My guess is that many scenes missed potential greatness due to lack of composer/director pre-flim collaboration.

    Joanne

    P.s. Shooting someone is naturally a horrible thing and not meaning to trivialize, but addressing from a more technical view...
    Joanne,

    99% of all films are temp scored until the director is satisfied that he has a road map to provide to the composer. With the temp score, the director has a basis in which he can communicate with the composer. From this basis the director (or insert the power that be in charge), can generate notes of what he likes or what he would like changed.
    The film is screened by the studio, with the temp in place, and they will have their own set of notes and may demand another temp before the composer is even hired.
    If a composer had to write from scratch, the multiple scores generated before a tone was set and agreed upon would be cost/time prohibitive.
    Once the composer hears what the director & studio have in mind, he/she can make his/her case on why it should be changed, if he/she feels the picture could benefit from a different musical perspective. Even then, any given cue may have to be rewritten many times before it's signed off on by all the powers that be.
    Like snowflakes, no two scores are realized exactly alike, but that's the general gist of it.
    Hope this helps,

  7. #7

    Re: O/T: Film Scores

    Quote Originally Posted by KC
    Hello Joanne,

    He would be directed by conversations and notes shared with the director and possibly the producers during several spotting sessions in which the entry, exit and purpose of the music for each scene he is scoring is discussed.

    Best wishes,

    Kaveh

    www.kavehcohen.com
    Thanks Kaveh. They’re called “spotting sessions” – where each logical scene is analyzed.


    Quote Originally Posted by PaulR
    Also, some writers will write quite a bit of material just from the script if time allows and that's the way they want to work. This gives them quite a bit of material to work from at the later date of seeing rushes and final cuts.
    Paul. Although I’m still waiting for the desire to score a film to kick in, one way I thought I could potentially handle the time-pressure is to have lots of material already completed – way before I was suppose to really start producing. Thank you.


    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Cairns
    Dagnabit! Now I know what happens!
    Scott – with your work load and hours, it’s entirely believable that you’ve not seen the film yet. Sorry!

    Quote Originally Posted by midphase
    In some films there is hardly any communication between the director and composer (in some rare cases the director doesn't even hire the composer or doesn't really care....but it happens), in other films the director is so involved that he is practically holding the fingers of the composer as her plays the notes (figuratively of course, but some directors fancy themselves composers and will ask the composer to develop a theme that they (the directors) might have come up with).

    Generally, the process is such a rush job that it's amazing what manages to get done in such a short period of time!
    Midphase – it’s that sort of scenario that has to be awful for the composer. How could anyone enjoy that process? There are so many films where it’s obvious music was a second thought and probably would be better if they left the music out all together.
    Quote Originally Posted by spettigrew
    Joanne,

    99% of all films are temp scored until the director is satisfied that he has a road map to provide to the composer. With the temp score, the director has a basis in which he can communicate with the composer. From this basis the director (or insert the power that be in charge), can generate notes of what he likes or what he would like changed.
    The film is screened by the studio, with the temp in place, and they will have their own set of notes and may demand another temp before the composer is even hired.
    If a composer had to write from scratch, the multiple scores generated before a tone was set and agreed upon would be cost/time prohibitive.
    Thanks spettigrew. The temp score makes sense, but having some trouble understanding when and who creates the temp score?

  8. #8

    Re: O/T: Film Scores

    Midphase – it’s that sort of scenario that has to be awful for the composer. How could anyone enjoy that process? There are so many films where it’s obvious music was a second thought and probably would be better if they left the music out all together.

    I deal with that all the time!
    >>Kays
    http://www.musicbykays.com
    Music Composition for Feature Films, Television and Interactive Entertainment

  9. #9

    Re: O/T: Film Scores

    Yo Jo!


    The temp score is usually a colaboration between the music editor, music supervisor and the director and or producers. Composer in a lot of cases can be the last guy on board.

    It's changing these days. A lot of us are getting hired during the shooting or long before the film gets into post.

    I personally don't care. If I care about a film I'm usually the first one to want to be in on all the music decisions. If it's more of a gig then just bring me in at the end and I'll rip whatever filmscore they temped with. Brutal truth.

    When it get's sticky is when you being the musical expert come into a situation where a bunch of bozos have temped the score with ridiculous music. I just did a comedy score that had been temped by the director/producer and the picture editor. It was a bunch of ragtime and big band music. 40 min of this stuff. It's great for a scene or two or even here or there but for a whole score I took one listen to the temp score and realizing that the director had been listening to this music with her film literally for years, I knew that it was going to be a battle.

    It was a struggle to say the least we blew up at eachother several times. Due to time and budget limits I knew that I wouldn't be fired and due to the fact that it took her 5 years to make one kids film I wasn't too worried about any future business from her. So for her own good I fought almost every cue to the end. She really didn't appreciate what I was doing until the end when she heard it all together and was like. ohhhh. But by that time I hated her guts so much I didn't take it as a compliment.

    Tricky business.

    Ars

  10. #10
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    Re: O/T: Film Scores

    Quote Originally Posted by ArsNova
    When it get's sticky is when you being the musical expert come into a situation where a bunch of bozos have temped the score with ridiculous music. Ars
    God, I know how that is. One of the big things is sometimes it is better to pass on a project where the director/producer is TOO attached to the temp score. That can get really hairy.

    Also, some directors don't know how to tell you what they want. It would go something like this:

    Director: I'm not really sure what I want for this cue...
    Composer: How about this? (plays music)
    Director: Yeah...not really what I was looking for...
    Composer: Alright, how about this? (plays more music)
    Director: No, that isn't quite it either.
    Composer: Well, do you know of anything that sounds like what you want?
    Director: Not really...
    [Time passes]
    Composer: Ok, how about this? (plays even more music)
    Director: I like it, but it's still not what I am looking for.
    Composer: GAH!!!

    James

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