Join Ashley Kennedy for an in-depth discussion in this video Understanding the importance and process of working with a composer, part of Filmmaking Forum: Conversations.
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- I think sometimes first time directors don't realize how huge having a composer is for the movie. There's just such a difference between having you know a piece of music that is what it is under a scene and a piece of music that is actually composed to the beats in that scene to help the emotion move along, like it adds a whole other level on top of what you've already got there. - It's funny as a composer because I think the thing that people discount a lot about us in the process is whether, we're kind of the last or one of the last creatives that can have quite a drastic and dramatic effect on the film.
Whenever I meet the director or the producers or whoever you know the powers that be are I just before I commit a note of music to anything I'd like to get to know them because the interpretation of what can be done with what ends up in your lap isn't a definitive thing so it's, what are they shooting for, what are they you know what means emotional to them what means dark to them, all the words they're going to use to communicate what they want from the music.
- So when I spot a scene with a composer I feel like the thing that I'm most interested in is talking about like how the music is serving the story. So I'm not really concerned with the instrumentation or anything like that, I'm really kind of guiding him through the scene in terms of what I want the music to do emotionally at that time. You know what pieces of dialogue or what looks or reactions or things I've done editorially that I want him to emphasize and sort of underline and heighten with score.
- So we sit there and we watch the film and we just basically you know start and stop it where we think there's moments where the music could heighten the scene. At the best it's you're putting music in where it's providing that emotional undercurrent or narrative undercurrent to what should be or what we'd love to be great acting moments and great moments of storyline. Other times you know they may not have gotten what they wanted from you know the script stage to when I come in a lot of stuff can happen you know and they may not have got that great shot or that great performance or whatever so they're going to, music is you know at the end of the process, or pretty close to the end of the process and it's the last kind of truly dramatic thing you can do to change the perception of the picture.
So that's when you really got to decide what are we trying to let the audience in on as opposed to some kind of off screen voiceover that you know is the thinking it's like let the music do that and it will probably do it in a way that is you know is going to have a lot more depth and trigger a lot more imagination in the viewer. So you know I'll have discussions and little points that they want to hit or what they want to bring it out a little bit more at this point you know let's ramp it up, let's have some more pace, let's have some you know all these terms get thrown around, let's have more emotion at this point, let's turn it dark here.
- I think you're just trying to find the voice of the film. You just start daydreaming about the story or the sequences and you know melodies just sort of start coming to you. - And then joining up musical ideas notes wise and then from there I like to just, I like to play instruments and see if there's a spark of something. - Or if you don't have any melodies coming to you you sit down and say okay what is this about and you try to you know pick an instrumentation that would work toward that and then you try to find a melody that sort of is mirroring that or is doing that storywise.
- And then hopefully what you're doing there will start to inspire the harmonic progression or the chord progression or the melodies and the motifs and all that side of things. I tend to when I write I tend to think about how it's going to end up in an orchestral setting which helps with the mock ups as well because you're not just approaching it in a keyboard style you're actually thinking about individual lines and how they're going to work together and programming it accordingly which then will hopefully make the orchestrator's job easier.
I have orchestrated my own stuff. And I do really enjoy it, it's just that once it gets busy it's just like you need someone you know and trust to go to do that. - It's refined constantly even as you get onto the dubstage, you have you know 24 stems for each queue and you can try removing strings or removing the brass or you know turning the percussion down or whatever you need to do during the sound mix to make it work at that point as well but you keep refining it and refining it constantly as you go.
- We go and record it, get someone to mix it and then at every point along the way this can be presented back to me and I can have an instant reaction as opposed to me sitting there and start to go into tweak mode, what if we did this, what if we did that, you know if I'm presented back my own work after someone's orchestrated or mixed it then I can have a definitive reaction of like you know what I think we need to do this, we need to that, blah blah and solve it very quickly you know at that point.
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