Music documentary

A documentary on film music” is a must see

That’s sublime. This new film score documentary is exactly that. It’s a special kind of opportunity… the chance to explore what film score composers think, know, believe, feel and do to create the music for the films we love. The documentary brings together the elite of the Hollywood film world, including directors, producers and composers, to provide insight into the role of music in creating iconic films.

Although professional musicians know a lot about the technical aspects of composing and performing music specifically for movies, the process is mysterious to non-musicians. We know we react emotionally to visual images, but we don’t always realize the subtle ways that great film music enhances our experiences. We know exactly what music we won’t forget, because that’s exactly what defines the film – its characters, its style, its story.

Take our crazy, compulsive love for movies and music, give us nearly 60 industry professionals discussing some of the greatest movie scores of all time, and we’ll be truly happy. In this documentary, film legends talk about how their creativity provided the emotions we took away from our viewing experiences. They discuss the techniques used to achieve these results. Even better, they reveal what they think of their own works.

Directed by Matt Schrader, the documentary is collaborative. Schrader, winner of three Emmys and a graduate of USC’s School of Cinematic Arts, has teamed up with producers Robert Kraft, Kenny Holmes, Nate Gold, Jonathan Willbanks, Trevor Thompson, associate producer Crystal Chavarria and composer Ryan Taubert. Here is just a small sample of the interviewees and some of their works included:

Composer Hans Zimmer

  • The Lion King
  • Pirates of the Caribbean
  • Driving Miss Daisy

Director James Cameron

Composer Danny Elfman

  • Batman
  • The Nightmare Before Christmas
  • Alice in Wonderland

The list continues with the distinguished: Rachel Portman (The rules of the cider house), Trent Reznor (the girl with dragon tattoo), Quincy Jones (The purple color), Randy Newman (toy story), Tom Holkenborg (Mad Max: Fury Road), Alexandre Desplat (Argo), Brian Tyler (Power Rangers), Harry Gregson-Williams (The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe), Bear McCreary (The Walking Dead), and many others. Even Steven Spielberg, John Williams, James Horner and Thomas Newman are featured in archive footage.

The documentary is packed with videos capturing recording sessions, describing the studios, participating orchestras, instruments, technical equipment and historic footage from recordings such as Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings in Abbey Road, London. Recording technicians explain what happens during recording sessions. It’s a celebration filled with rare glimpses into the world of film scoring.

It is difficult to put into words the excitement generated by this documentary. Peeking behind the scenes or learning background stories has always intrigued fans. But there’s something very compelling about this film that recent critics may not have noticed. Yes, the film gives a glimpse of the reality that musicians face when recording for films. Admittedly, the interviews are in some cases shorter than we would like. There is only a limited amount of historical and technical information that can be added to a 95 minute documentary. Some critics have noted that the film might be better for those who know less about cinema than the critics. They miss the point. This celebration welcomes us all to catch the glimpses we are about to catch. We can be like kids at a buffet, enjoying little tastes of everything.

The official website lists the documentary’s screening schedule for the rest of the year. The September 23 screening at Cineplex Eau Claire in Calgary, Alberta, Canada includes a post-film Q&A with director Matt Schrader and composer Christophe Beck. It is also possible to purchase a Blue Ray or DVD version from the Score online store. The interviews are available as a paperback, Kindle edition, or audiobook. There are also editions for teachers. All of this gives a nod to the conclusion that everyone is welcome at this event. Yes, it’s a must, but more than that, it’s an unmissable experience.

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