Post-production: The Score
Update: The scoring artist is critical to the success of any film.
We always begin with the following disclaimer: It is impossible for you to know less about filmmaking than what we knew when we began the Salted Christmas journey. This series of articles is not designed to teach anyone in the industry anything. The series is simply intended to share with our friends some of what we’ve learned about the art, the skill, and the business of filmmaking.
In general, films contain two types of music: songs and score. The songs in any film are critical to the overall appeal of the film and we will do another post later about the five wonderful songs in #SaltedChristmas. This post, however, concerns the other type of music in a film: the score.
The score of a film, also called background music, is the music written specifically for that film which is designed to both convey and amplify the emotion present in the scene. We’ve all seen movie scenes where something important and/or emotional is happening on screen. In great films, those moments are almost always accompanied by music designed to enhance the experience. The only way to effectively accomplish the goal of enhancing a particular moment is to have the music written specifically for that moment.
Of course, Salted Christmas has the exact same need. In the big films, well-known artists are brought in to write and perform new music. Wonderful examples (among many) of this are Phil Collins and the music he did for Tarzan as well as Queen and the music they did for Highlander. But those films consume huge budgets. What about the lowly indie filmmaker? Well, it is not necessary to call in Hans Zimmer and the New York Philharmonic in order to achieve the vast majority of the desired effect.
For Salted Christmas, we were blessed to find a young composer who lives locally and has done a wonderful job for us without the gigantic budget. We wanted someone who had undertaken other scoring projects before and had music we could listen to in order to make our decision. A feature film is probably not the best place for someone to try their hand at scoring for the first time.
The workflow of scoring the film mostly goes like this:
- The composer watches the entire film to get an understanding of the project.
- We discuss individual scenes and try to agree on the feel we desire for each scene.
- The composer produces an initial draft of music for the scene which we then bring into the editing software.
- We provide feedback to the composer on each piece and make suggestions where we have them.
- The composer responds to the feedback and returns with a new draft.
- It is possible that the first draft might fit perfectly or that we go through steps 3-5 several times in an attempt to achieve just the right effect.
- We make a final agreement that the piece is complete when all parties feel we have the right fit.
As a side note, in our management of the process for Salted Christmas, we asked our composer to tell us where music was needed. We thought it would be foolish to dictate too much to the person with such skill and talent in this area. This is another area where huge egos do not benefit the process and we wanted it to be a truly collaborative effort between the director and the composer. And we think the results speak for themselves.