Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Music makes the musical... Or any film really...

One of the many things that gets reiterated time and time again at film school is this: "Please don't forget that audio is just as important as camera". This is something that I firmly believe can't be stated enough. Yes, we ARE going to hold for room tone. Yes, we ARE going to spend that much money on the proper composer.  It really does matter.  On our last project, "Before Your Eyes", we took these notions and really ran with them. Our score was as critical to the film as the camerawork (okay Skyler... fine... maybe not quite as critical...). The composer we worked with was out of the UK, his work can be found here and while I do get tired of the film, I never tired of listening to the music. That film had almost no dialogue and was largely motivated by the music, which was incorporated into a beautiful soundscape/design. One of the major criticisms that project received was actually a lack of dialogue. People felt really uncomfortable by the lack of it. To be honest, I'm still not certain if we overdid the lack of dialogue, some loved it, some hated it, but that's filmmaking. That project really hit home for me how music can speak just as effectively as dialogue.

Between a summer in NYC and my return to IC, I spent a quick weekend in my hometown in Western MA. While there, I was able to visit Tanglewood. You don't need to know much about this place, other than that it is a beautiful outdoor concert venue which also houses the Boston Symphony Orchestra during the summer months. I'm not usually one for what this venue puts forward, but the night I went was a night that is very near and dear to my heart: John Williams' Film Night at Tanglewood. To give you a sense of that. It is hours of John Williams conducting the BSO in not only his own music, but the music of other famous film composers. At some points they show films on the screen with the score omitted, so that portion can be played live.  This year the highlight in that sense was the opening scene from Star Trek Into Darkness:

If you haven't seen the entire film, I highly recommend it (J.J. Abrams is a genius). Regardless, this scene is incredible as a standalone scene, so give the 9 minutes a watch.  If you play as close attention to the score as I did on film night at Tanglewood, you'll see just how critical it is to the scene. The main theme that pops up near the end is this one here. It is unique and beautiful. That theme is as much the calling card to this rebooted franchise as Chris Pine or the tricked out Enterprise. If you have seen these movies and you hear this track, your mind goes there. Michael Giacchino did a brilliant job of repurposing the original Star Trek theme to something that is modern and gorgeous in its sound (and a sight better than this old clunker)

So where the hell am I going with this? Well now we are making a musical! Just as much as the last one, music is still key! This time it might be even more key! Not only is the music enforcing the plot, it is plot! Major things will be happening during musical numbers. This is one of the hugest differences between the films of freshmen and the films that come out of thesis, music.  If you haven't already done so, shop around for your composer, that person will help define your film. 

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