One of the most interesting and tricky tasks which every composer faces is simply communicating with the producer and director. It sounds much easier than it usually is. Commonly, the producer and director are extremely knowledgeable, many times even experts, in the various areas film production such as screenwriting, casting, cinematography, film editing, etc. However, more often than not, music composition is not a subject within the director’s or producer’s areas of expertise. This can lead to a somewhat interesting and many times hilarious language barrier, which is primarily the composer’s responsibility to transcend.
Here are a few of the more comedic quotes from spotting sessions I’ve been a part of:
· “Can you use a sexy instrument here, like a xylophone?”
· “Make it sound like snow falling on the roof of a small cottage on a cold winter’s night.”
· “Have the music be happy-sad, happy-sad, happy-sad, until this spot right here, then make it suddenly turn into sad-happy.
· “I would like the music to sound something like crushed ping pong balls taped to the underside of pigeon wings.”
· (referring to a solo violin in the temporary score) “I really don’t like that guitar twang right there.”
I’m relieved to say I was somehow able to navigate the spotting sessions these quotes came from, and was able to create music that the director and producer were happy with.
Frankly, there is no “love” chord, or “sexy” timbre, or “happy” instrument. Sometimes I wish it were that simple. But, despite the funnier and frustrating moments of music spotting, I love that feeling I get when I’ve been able to successfully translate the director’s and producer’s descriptions of what they want the music to accomplish in their film. When the music I’ve created amplifies the emotion on the screen and captures the film makers’ vision, that is what I live for.