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BY

ANDREW GROSS & GIL TALMI

RIGHT MUSIC CHOOSING THE
CHAPTER 4: POST-PRODUCTION

YOUR 10 MOST FREQUENTLY ASKED MUSIC QUESTIONS ANSWERED
f you’re a first-time moviemaker, getting the right music for your movie can be a treacherous experience. But having knowledge of the process and legal hurdles associated with pairing music to picture will help you avoid potential disasters. Below are answers to some of the most common questions asked by first-timers—the answers to which will help you get the music your film deserves.

technical and creative snafus that will arise. composer’s ability to both communicate clearly and listen patiently to what you have to say. This first “date” will educate you on the rest of the relationship. Ask the hard questions early on, as you can spot red flags within the first 10 minutes of meeting someone. But make this first meeting a bilateral audition, as creativity needs to flow in both directions in any successful collaboration. Make sure the connection is there for both of you.

Q: SHOULD I HIRE A COMPOSER FOR FREE? A: No. Whatever you do, pay something, even if it’s very little, as the exchange of money helps to protect the moviemaker/composer relationship. Even if the composer is doing you a favor by reducing his or her rate, it’s important that you have the power to make creative decisions about the music in your film. Ask lots of questions, like: Does this include live musicians? What if I don’t like what you’ve written? Can I come to the recording session? Be creative with negotiations. Composers will often work for lower rates if they are able to keep the rights to their music without inhibiting your rights to distribute the film.

Q: I HAVE A FRIEND IN A BAND. SHOULD I HIRE HER? A: It’s important to recognize the
difference between recording an album and scoring a film. For albums, the music is at the service of the artist. In film, music is always at the service of the story. As long as your friend understands this hierarchy, then you can proceed. If this is the first film for both you and your friend, you should allow time for experimentation and mistakes, as it might take a little longer than normal to work out the

COMPLETE GUIDE TO MAKING MOVIES 2012

Q: HOW DO I FIND THE RIGHT COMPOSER? A: It is not enough to like a composer’s music. As you will be spending a lot of time together, it is very important to have great creative chemistry. Meet in person with every potential composer and break some bread. Pay attention to your

Q: SHOULD I USE TEMP MUSIC? A: Temp music can be a wonderful
tool in creating a sonic roadmap that will allow you to communicate your musical vision with your composer. This roadmap can easily convey the emotion and energy of a scene as well as the overall tone of your film. Where moviemakers

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“IT IS HARD TO LET GO OF A PIECE OF MUSIC YOU’VE LIVED WITH FOR A LONG TIME.”
often get into trouble is when they develop a case of “Temp Love,” as it is often hard to let go of a piece of music you’ve lived with for a long time. Be realistic. As you create your temp score, be mindful of the fact that at some point you will need to let go of it. Trust your composer. After all, you hired him for his creativity, not his re-creativity. Allow room for something new and fresh. This is how the scores that we ultimately fall in love with are born. Allow your score to become as unique as it can be. amount of time to conform music to a new cut—yes, even those four frames you “shaved off.”

Q: HOW DO I LISTEN TO MY COMPOSER’S DEMO? A: Explore the score in-depth with
your composer. You don’t have to know every instrument; it is your composer’s job to help you understand what’s what. Spend time muting or soloing tracks so that you can really connect with the various elements of your score, as this will allow for greater efficiency. If you are going to be recording live instruments, know that the sketches are temporary. Although today’s samples sound amazing, they are nothing like the real thing. Listen for the notes, the melody and the atmosphere, knowing that the live players will breathe the real spirit into the music. Trust that your composer knows what he or she is doing and that the final music will fulfill the promise of the sketch.

singing and ringtones. It’s especially important to be mindful of this if you are shooting a documentary, as that music playing in the background of your perfect interview needs to be cleared. “Fair use” is often brought up, but it’s best not to get to a point where you even need to ask whether your use of a song qualifies. Keep things clean.

Q: WHAT ARE MY OPTIONS FOR LICENSING SONGS? A: If you need to license songs for
your film, you have four options: 1) Hire a music supervisor. 2) License all the music yourself. 3) Have someone write an original song. 4) Use a one-stop-shop music licensing company. If you have a decent budget, you can hire a music supervisor to negotiate with the rights-holders on your behalf. If not, you’ll have to do it yourself. There are three basic rights you’ll need for your licenses: 1) All rights (for all media) 2) In perpetuity (forever) 3) Throughout the universe (you’ll be happy to have this when your film plays on a Mars colony) Getting all rights can be expensive, so if you only want Internet and DVD rights, you can usually negotiate lower licensing fees. Music licensing catalogs can have very high quality music, and getting music from them is generally a simple and affordable process, because they have the ability to immediately issue a quote and a license for all the music in their catalog. By understanding the process and asking the right questions, you’ll be able to get the right music for your film, which can help tell your story way beyond even your expectations. MM Andrew Gross and Gil Talmi are established film and television composers who also run the boutique music licensing company, konsonant/ (www. konsonant.com). For more helpful articles on music for film, check out www.konsonantmusic.wordpress.com.

Q: HOW DO I COMMUNICATE WHAT I WANT MUSICALLY? A: You don’t have to know anything
about music in order to effectively communicate with your composer. What you must be able to do is talk about how the music makes you feel. Use adjectives to describe what you want in terms of emotion and tone. Talk to your composer the same way you would an actor when describing the overall tone of a scene. You can say something like, ‘I’ve always thought of this scene as a slow and methodical build of tension, and your music is telling me too much at the beginning.’ Comments like this will generally lead to a meaningful dialogue. Try to avoid singing how you want the melody to go to your composer; there are risks involved when you cross that line.

CHAPTER 4: POST-PRODUCTION

Q: WHAT CAN I EXPECT MY COMPOSER TO DELIVER FOR THE FINAL MIX? A: The musical process does not end
after the music is recorded. You can ask your composer for more than just the stereo audio file, like stems, which are individual audio files of the different instruments that make up a given score cue. For example, a composer might deliver six audio files for one cue: A complete stereo mix plus a solo acoustic guitar, flute, strings, bass and percussion. This will give you the opportunity to adjust the music levels of specific instruments in your final sound mix, so that you can achieve the perfect sonic balance.

Q: IS THERE AN ETIQUETTE TO THE SCORING PROCESS? A: Be organized. Have a clear postproduction schedule that allows four to six weeks for your composer to write the score. Remember that composers work to locked picture; unlocking picture after the composer has started working can have a negative impact on the workflow. It takes a tremendous

COMPLETE GUIDE TO MAKING MOVIES 2012

Q: WHAT KIND OF MUSIC DO I NEED TO CLEAR IN MY FILM? A: This one is pretty straightforward, folks: All music needs to be cleared. This includes source music recorded on location, on-screen

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