Score: A Film Music Documentary (2016) Script

The piano we built for this movie "The Homesman", the problem with this is that it's out in the elements, and it disintegrates.

But I think it's a noble death for a piano.

The wind is a big feature in the movie and we thought that it'd be great to be able to tune the wind.

It sounds really amazing.

This is part of the fun of experimenting.

You know, you figure this stuff out.

One interesting thing that happens is the sound travels through the wire faster than it travels through the air, so you get this reverse echo, which is really cool.

You don't even have to put any effect on the sound at all.

I mean, you can hear it all the way down in the valley.

It's more than just the concept of doing something cool that nobody's done before. It's more fun.

Samurai's death here, on the hill.

When you hear "Rocky"...

Everybody in the audience knows what's going on.

The composer is a storyteller.

Music has the ability to shape and in some cases alter or even subvert what the filmmaker is communicating.

The score is the heart and the soul of the film.

Film music can make an exciting scene more exciting.

We call it "emotion lotion", because we can make you feel anything we want you to feel.

It's being able to communicate on a level that they can't tell in pictures.

Great film music can elevate.

music has always been a part of the cinema-going experience, as far back as 1895 when the Lumiére brothers were experimenting in Paris.

In the earliest days, it is true, music was thought of as something to cover up the noise of the projector.

Silent films were never silent.

There was at least a pianist in the smallest nickelodeons, and sometimes the bridge between them was a theatre organ.

There were many theatre organ makers, but the one that produced the most organs, and is thought to be probably the best is the name wurlitzer.

They showed how a person could bring to life the movies that were otherwise quiet.

They either did a score that was printed for them,

or they improvised and created their own.

They were made part of the moviegoing experience.

A number of people had toyed with the idea of scores in Hollywood.

Max Steiner's score for "King Kong" in 1933 was a landmark.

When "King Kong" came out, "Wait a second. Orchestra music in a movie?"

the only reason he was able to do it is because the movie wasn't scary.

It looked kitschy and stupid, because it was so... It was kitschy and stupid.

But then he put that music in.

It completely changed the movie. It made it frightening.

People had not done that before.

It was really the first major score that demonstrated conclusively the power of music in film.

Alfred Newman came from new haven, Connecticut, an iconic figure in the history of film music.

A sound that favors horns and woodwinds.

My father was Alfred Newman.

In 1930, he came to L.A.

He was at 20th Century Fox for 20 years.

The Fox logo... arguably the most famous logo ever written...

It wasn't written for Fox, it was written for Goldwyn and it was rejected.

And then he used it for fox and Darryl Zanuck loved it.

There was nothing like that orchestra. I'm talking about rubato.

It means "slowing down and speeding up in an expressive way".

You would never read a line of text like, "I went to the market today".

"I went to the market today".

You'd have a... you'd have a structure of a phrase.

That is so uber important in music.

They became expert at making that musical.

That helped define what we know as the classic Hollywood sound.

A spotting session is the first time we all get together, look at the movie, and decide where the music's gonna go, and what type of music it's going to be.

All movies, the first 20 minutes are too slow because we're laying pipe.

So we want the music to be something but not crazy.

The goal of a spotting session is to have a dialogue with the composer that you've probably been postponing.

I've done my work, I've done my design, I've cast the movie, I've shot it.

We've done all our beautiful photography, we've done all our super-brilliant editing.

Now it's going through and trying to communicate what I've heard in my mind.

Ah, mothers.

Mothers are our rocks.

So it says "open road pictures", then we're going to cut to possibly not the front door but a shot before the front door...

...that establishes the house. Got it.

Spotting, to me, is really important because it gives me an idea of what the director's looking at and what he's looking for.

Something that's peppy right away... Peppy, yep.

And then we come here and we slow down.

Kind of settle on that.

You're collaborating with people.

I want them to feel like a filmmaker like them has come into the process.

I'm the one that specializes in this one thing that they're uncomfortable with.

You're trying to come up with music that supports the scene and complements it in an unobtrusive way.

You spend as much time as you can immersing yourself in the backstory.

As a film composer, you're part of the storytelling team.

Do you want to spin forward to the next cue, Garry?

Yeah. This one sort of ends when she comes around the corner, right?

I try to get a sense of what their insecurities are.

The more time you spend with them, the more you get those answers.

Most directors don't know how to convert emotions into musical... into music.

So the composer has to kind of act almost like a therapist and go through all this mishmash of what the director's saying and get the essence of it.

What if we kind of tail right into that?

Yeah, right, you don't need to go... Right?

Don't score him? Maybe don't score...

Just put a nice little transition, Garry, that kind of just spills over.

And then he comes up. Yeah.

Something like that maybe? Yeah.

We got the... We got the gist of it.

Sort of in that first conversation with the director I have glimpses of what it could be.

Every project starts roughly the same way.

Somebody comes into the room and says, "I've got this idea.

It'll be fun to do. It'll be a fun adventure", etc.

And they tell you the idea and you get drawn in and you get excited.

And you're flattered that they're even considering you.

"Whoa, me", you know. "I get to go on this ride".

And then they leave the room and then you have a moment of reflection.

You go, "I have no idea how to do this.

Oh, my god".

And then after a while you think should you be phoning them and saying, you know, "Hey, I think you better phone John Williams.

I have no idea how to do this".

You know, the blank page is always the blank page.

Plus, I have no idea where music comes from.

So there's always the fear that somebody's going to switch off the tap.

This is a film called "Race".

I've been working on it for a week, so I'm just beginning.

I'm just sort of getting into my process with it.

Where I'm thinking it should start is... is just coming up.

And I'm going to start with it coming in really, really quietly.


Well, why not?

You want to win a gold medal?

Sure. You want to do it in Berlin?

Well, I mean, unless you were planning on waiting...

There's a change of direction in the scene.

And that's often a prompt for where music will come in.

Well, they don't care for 'em much here in Columbus, either.

Is that gonna be problem?

No sir.

I just came here to run.

Well then, for the next 28 months, you're either in a classroom, or you're on that track, every hour, every day.

As a composer, when you're sitting there watching a film, it's not like watching a play or real life.

There's camera positions, there's cuts.

It's an incredibly artificial medium in a way, and it's really nothing like real life.

We have to find clever ways to introduce something familiar.

A motif is a group of notes that might highlight what a film score is.

A good example would be "Close encounters".

Beethoven was one the first composers to really take a theme or motif and spin it out in a huge way.

Beethoven's "Fifth symphony," the entire piece is based on that ya-ta-ta-ta rhythm.

Simple hooks, just like a pop song.

But you're then casting them in different lights.

By using motifs, it helps you to understand the relationships in the story.

Dear Bilbo.

When you hear a certain motif, you connect it.

And it actually helped you follow the story.

Nine companions.

By the time you get to the end of the film, when you play that music in its full glory, it's already familiar to the audience.

We're kind of building things up to that main course.

The director is not a huge fan of strictly orchestral elements, so we're exploring.

In here, this is buck.

He's working on a movie now called "The gunman" that we're working on together.

We're a little bit under the gun, and that's nerve-racking.

One of the things we were working at was processing these kalimbas.

It's a simple African instrument.

The next week we'll be here quite a bit.

I'm pretty relaxed about it.

Buck's not.

There's a lot of work to do.

That's the kalimba you hear.

He's following a mystery to find out what's happened.

The music needs to have a bit of intrigue.

I think we cracked the puzzle on this pretty quick.

As film grew up, in terms of the subject that they were tackling and what the filmmakers themselves were seeking, film music itself changed.

It became more modern in style. It embraced jazz.

"A streetcar named desire" was Alex North's first film score.

And he comes in with a history of having written ballets and concert works in New York and tackles his first film assignment, and writes the most revolutionary score of all time.

The first film score incorporating jazz in the writing structure.

Jerry Goldsmith said when he heard the score for the first time, he knew that film music had changed and would never be the same.

Bond. James Bond.

John Barry came from his own band, performing music that sounded like early James Bond music.

By the time he wrote James Bond music, he was bringing a band sensibility to movies.

Thing about big band music, it was cool.

And it swung.

Felt like this was a guy who could do anything.

You will not hear any film, which is to do with spying or secret services without a reference to bond.

I mean, it's become the thing to go to, in the same way that Morricone was for spaghetti westerns.

Ennio Morricone.

He's not going to hit you with music that makes you go, "whoa, what is that instrument?

Whoa, how did he make that sound?"

But what he will do is just kill you with a melody.

"The good, the bad and the ugly" is such an iconic piece of music.

You know, he just took that sound of the guitar and just put it into that western environment.

That is the sound of, you know, spaghetti westerns, still, 50, 60 years after the fact.

And I think that's quite an achievement.

By the 1960s, you had this great period, where you had incredibly well-trained musicians.

Bernard Herrmann had come out of dramatic radio.

And his ability to take a sound, and create a specific kind of unique orchestra that was specific to each film was groundbreaking.

the main title from vertigo, that is the textbook perfect example of the score that says "mystery, something's not right here.

Stay away, but please come. Come running".

That was different than other writers at the time.

These are not melodic ideas. These are little phrases that had circular madness to them, that worked really well in Alfred Hitchcock movies.

It felt like everything's driving forward in a sick, inevitably disastrous way.

Bernard Herrmann, he had balls.

So just to do what he did with "psycho" in the shower scene.

Without the music, it's not that scary.

You notice the cuts, you notice the process.

As soon as you put the music there...

You're stuck in the mindset of this psychotic killer.

Outside of the context of that movie, people probably just wonder, "what the hell is the noise? Turn it off".

But it was so effective in that moment.

It really tricked you into believing you saw way more of the violent act in that scene than really occurred.

When you read a book, and it says

"there is this great forest," everybody pictures a forest.

None of these forests will be the same.

It's exactly the same with music.

You can ask 15 other composers to read that same script, they will all have different musical ideas.

One of the things that I find so liberating about film music is the fact that any instrument is valid, as long as it makes the movie better.

I have about five storage areas that are all filled with musical equipment.

At a certain point, I collect enough stuff that when it starts to look like a junk store, then the people here do an intervention and they take everything.

They scrape it clean, and I just start over collecting things again.

It was a piano something like that.

I bought it at a toy store at the Beverly Center, and I played the theme song for "Rugrats," because I thought I'd never need to play the toy piano again.

It was like $60 bucks. I thought, "what a lot of money to spend on a toy piano".

So I bought it, brought it to my studio, and recorded it.

Then I took it back and got my money back.

And now I always wonder, where is that toy piano that I wrote the theme song for "Rugrats" on?

Many times I start the cue from playing other things, not the computer.

These are tuned sleigh bells. They're very rare.

There's music in everything. I'll be taking an elevator.

You'll be in the thing and then all of a sudden the door will be like.

And you're just like, "what was that, man?

That was cool, you know?" And you come back to the studio and try to recreate that sound.

What would that sound like in musical form?

So I'm always trying to distill what the world sounds like into music.

There is no such thing as the wrong way to do something.

You just got to keep trying, and the wrong way is the wrong way, until it's the right way.

It's a bit of a dinosaur in that it went extinct and gave birth to the violin, and the guitar, and a lot of other things. The construction's pretty simple.

You have two drones, and in this case, one melodic string.

It's kind of suggestive looking, at least.

They sound kind of like when a seal plays musical horns in a circus or something.

I haven't played that for years.

Now that I've got the groove, I can imagine like what could be a melody on top, right?

It's a paradise.

I try to find a general rhythm in a scene.

"Mad Max," I spent at least seven months producing the score.

Trying this, trying that.

Different types of drums.

The drums that were uniquely recorded for "mad Max" just playing one.

If you combine all these multiple tracks together, then you can get a really, really interesting quality of these drums playing together and they're pretty aggressive, which I'm a big fan of.

That actually makes, you know, quite a difference.

Some directors want the music to constantly hit the shots.

Other directors want really long pieces of music that go over multiple, multiple shots at the same time.

These are things that you constantly struggle with when you work to picture.

I don't care what music it is, but if I make a track, it has to give me goosebumps, myself.

I don't say that to be arrogant, but if it doesn't hit me in the stomach as being a great piece of music, I cannot expect the audience, anybody out there, to have the feeling that it hits the stomach.

If it gives me goosebumps, it's pretty likely it'll give someone else goosebumps, because I think goosebumps come for everyone from similar places.

When we're looking at emotion, and other kinds of responses to music, there are many structures in the brain that are involved.

Music is so multifaceted, it's so multidimensional.

Different aspects of music are processed by different systems in the brain.

So when you're looking at something, like melody and pitch, that's processed by one system in the brain.

When you're looking at the time-based aspects like tempo and rhythm, that's processed by another system.

We are having some sort of a physiological response that the body is showing, and the goosebumps is actually just a sign of what's happening inside your body.

There's a system in the brain, ventral striatum and nucleus accumbens, in particular, it's our reward center.

Things like chocolate or sex, these are reactions that we can see involve these structures.

So it's interesting because the same kinds of pleasurable feelings we get from chocolate, dopamine release, we could see some of the same kind of activations in the brain to music.

It's the one art form that technically doesn't exist.

You can touch musical instruments, you can touch cds or cassettes or vinyl that contain the music, but you can never actually put your finger on music.

It's just air moving a little bit differently.

All music is doing is providing some structure to these air molecules.

So if a truck goes by, it's pushing air molecules against our inner ear.

If someone's playing cello, it's pushing the exact same air molecules against our ear, just in a different, structured way.

And there's something odd but really, really interesting and powerful about that.

But they'll never take our freedom!

It makes armies march into battle.

It makes people cry.

It can really increase the overall emotion in a way that will make a movie stay with its audience long after the last frame of film.

We are doing something here.

We're harnessing something from the ether.

Film music, and orchestral music in general, is of great interest to neuroscientists and to scientists because of its great power to emote.

Film music is usually something that we're not paying conscious attention to, and yet it has such a powerful impact on us.

"Remember the Titans," the music for me was written so specifically for that.

It's very interesting about using music in film, it's providing a very specific context for the music.

There is a permanent linkage, so when you hear it again, the experiences you had in the theatre are evoked.

I never even thought about whether it could be used elsewhere.

Thank you. God bless you and may god bless the United States of America.

The phone rang.

A friend of mine said, "I'm at the convention.

'Remember the Titans' is playing as loud as a Kiss concert".

I wasn't asked, which I'm not happy about, but, it's quite interesting watching it being used for something completely different.

We live in a world that things are underscored.

It's actually interesting how the music of "Remember the Titans" evokes what Obama wanted to be as the man walking out as the new president.

Whatever the audience felt in the theatre, it was resonant again.

The power of the score in and of itself is amazing.

When we're watching a 90-minute standard film, we make about 21,000 or more eye movements.

And even though we feel like we have full control and freedom of where to look, many studies on eye tracking have shown that actually a film audience is usually looking at about the same place on a screen at about the same time.

One way that the eye can be directed to a specific spot on the screen is when there's something about the music that matches some characteristic on the screen.

For example, a rising pitch with something that is rising.

And a great example of this comes from the "married life" montage from the film, "Up". the first time that we see the balloons that are tied to Carl's cart, that's really important because the balloons are going to be an important visual motif, an important theme for the entire film.

We see Carl, and then we see Ellie walking out with a parrot.

And then the balloon cart rises and comes back down.

So it's very interesting to see that music can be part of the choreography of the dance of our eye movements during a film sequence.

It used to be representative scoring, where everything you see, you hear.

Walk up the steps.

Romantic kiss.

The eye's doing the same thing the ear's doing.

There's so many decisions to make in movies.

Hollywood was going through an odd transition in the '60s, especially the mid-'60s to the early '70s.

One of the things that got thrown out was the idea of the old-fashioned orchestral score.

now there was a movement toward source music.

folk music...

Intimate types of musical groupings...

it was just different. The '60s were a lot of composers who really knew what they were doing, who didn't want to do it the old way.

Jerry Goldsmith was absolutely the most innovative composer to work on mainstream movies on a regular basis.

What's amazing about "Planet of the apes" is he's using all these modern techniques.

He reapplied it and put it into drama.

Metal mixing bowls and rubber balls being bounced into a bowl.

Just kind of screwing with the orchestra the way he did and just being so ballsy in his choices and it being so on point for that movie.

It'll always be one of the all-time great science fiction scores.

"Chinatown" was written in 10 days after an earlier score had been written, recorded, and thrown out.

And it's very interesting that Jerry comes in and he looks at the film, and he immediately decides he needs four harps, four pianos, strings, percussion, and a solo trumpet.

Why four pianos?

I mean, Jerry was just sort of the godfather of all this, wasn't he?

It's such an interesting musical choice, but that's Jerry.

You ask musicians, they might think he is the best ever.

When I heard "the reivers," I said, "my god, this guy must be 80 years old. " I really thought... -Nearly!

I thought maybe here's some guy who's 80 years old who maybe wrote his greatest scores of his life.

And I wanted to find out who this guy was, and I met this young man named John Williams and I was amazed.

John Williams did not start as a classical composer, he started as a jazz pianist.

John Williams played piano on "West Side story".

And he played piano on "the apartment".

Born and bred in the Fox system, him and Jerry Goldsmith, that's where they learned.

Nobody knew that the whole field would change.

When we saw "Jaws," if it didn't have that "ba-domp ba-domp", none of us would have known what was happening.

it was pretty brilliant.

And it was almost like a crazy experiment.

He was an engine, "ba-dum, ba-dum," accelerating.

Ba-dum. Ba-dum. Ba-dum.

Like a train moving forward, this is an eating machine.

He is as simple as "I move forward to kill".

That shark didn't need more. He needed two notes.

The first day with Steven, he said, "what are you going to play for Jaws?" I went...

He said, "you're kidding".

I said, "you're crazy, this is a serious movie!"

I thought he was going to say, "no, I'm only kidding".

And he was about to play this very poetic pastoral symphony.

And John said, "no, no, you've made a very primal movie".

Part of the genius of John Williams is how he spots music and how he places music in a movie.

John did not want music to celebrate a red herring.

He only wanted music to signal the actual arrival of the shark.

Everybody goes, "oh, 'Jaws', it's just these two notes".

It's not. There's this amazing orchestral symphonic piece that takes place and it's just being triggered by these two notes.

Just artistic imagination is phenomenal.

We are not worthy.

I said, "oh my god. It's a rebirth.

Film music is back, it's alive!"

"Star Wars" made such an incredible splash when it came out.

Everything about it was so exciting and thrilling for an 11-year-old growing up at that time.

Here they come.

And spoke to a whole generation of people.

I was, I think 12 when that thing came out.

So it had a massive impact on my youth.

We had the theme from "Star Wars" locked in our head as a kid, as soon as we walked out of that theatre.

Musically, yes, it is a symphonic score.

But I mean, it's one of the greatest scores probably ever written.

It's impossible to think of "Star Wars" without Williams' music.

The score he did helped the audience rediscover the classical orchestral film score.

Spielberg and Lucas can lay claim to many things, and one of them is helping to reintroduce audiences to that kind of moviegoing experience.

Star wars turned this shit upside down.

It was John Williams that made me, first of all, realize that film music could be of a quality and distinction that is as great as any of the classical composers I grew up with.

There's the traditional idea of good and bad, and how they were exemplified in music.

I like to always go to "Star Wars," because there's those beautiful themes, John's main theme, and then there is the love theme.

But then there's the Darth Vader theme.

it's just so martial and so broad that you go, "oh boy, there's something not good here".

the right score for the right movie at the right time.

That '70s era, that is absolutely the era of John Williams.

Without his music, Superman's powers are greatly diminished.

Believe me, if you try to fly without that theme, you go nowhere. One step, two steps and down.

Everyone knows the Superman theme, but the Krypton theme that comes right before it...

That overture, it's mysterious, it's almost like avant-garde.

That sets up this really tuneful double-chorus melody.

Almost makes it, to me, 10 times more the piece.

So it's his way of surrounding pieces with other pieces.

Most of the world, if you were to play the music from "Jaws," or "Star Wars," or "Raiders of the lost ark," most folks would know exactly what that was.

"Raiders of the lost ark".

If you hear the melody without the rhythm, you can recognize it.

But if you just to the rhythm, with no melody you recognize it either way.

Very simple little sequence of notes.

But I spend more time on those little bits of musical grammar to get them just right so that they seem inevitable.

There's a hooky, tuneful, well-orchestrated theme, but I think that's only half of it.

There's always the bravura part of the John Williams composition.

The first 8, 16, 32 bars. The great "Raiders of the lost ark" theme.

And then comes the b part.

It's less well known, but it's so beautifully crafted.

I always think that's the part he writes for himself.

I think he's as brilliant as people feel he is.

And as popular as his music is, he's even better than that.

If it would be convenient to go into the call.


I like that. As a matter of fact, it seems like a very natural transition.

Up or down? Up.

Maybe once down.

It could go down once and then go up.

What a score needs to do has changed, because of how filmmaking has changed.

Let's take John Williams, let's take the end of "E.T.".

Where are we going?

To the forest!

It is just a wide open space for music.

Follow me!

When was the last time that somebody left a space that open and said, "I want this to be a music moment where you just bring that tune home".

I'll be right here.


We have this vast, expansive music with the taking off of the spaceship.

John Williams, Steven Spielberg decide that we're gonna go from big music to, reminding us who is going into that spaceship.

We could look at what is happening in the story as being very sad, these are farewells.

And at the very end we hear this coda, this fanfare that's very triumphant.

That is saying that we're looking at this from Elliot's viewpoint.

That it's not a loss, but it's almost like saying, "mission accomplished. We got E.T. Home".

In the orchestra, one of the things we love is the 10-minute break.

But on tens, when you have been inspired by the music, there's an electricity.

On "Jurassic Park," you could tell by the look in your colleague's eyes that you were not mistaken, that you had just played something that was going to almost live eternally.

Almost anything we do with John Williams is...

We know it's going to be unbelievable.

We always leave the sessions like feeling, "why can't all the sessions be like this?"

A lot of the time you'll pick a studio because it's appropriate to the sort of sound that you want to make.

It used to be a church, obviously.

It's a building that's been here for a couple hundred years.

You know, it's a church, and I suppose everyone thinks that all churches are haunted somehow.

We have had engineers who've been in here who've just seen that happen.

You know, chairs just start spinning around.

It would be a great way to excuse yourself, wouldn't it?

If you've made a terrible mistake.

"It was the ghost that did that". But no, you know, all the terrible things that happen here are always based on people.

Usually me.

I've sort of lived in this building since about 1994.

Morning. Hi, David.

It was pretty derelict when George Martin in the late '80s sort of came upon it and decided this would be the place to convert into a studio.

If you've ever been in a small room with a gang of people and shouted a lot, it sort of chokes the room out.

You know, so you can't really hear anything because the sound has got nowhere to go so everything piles in on itself?

That's the same in an acoustic space.

If we have 110 people in a room, we've got this moveable roof panel.

You lift the roof up and it gives you an extra second and a half of reverb and so, you know, the sound can sort of swim around this gorgeous space with all these amazing reflective surfaces.

We use up to 100 mics on a session.

That all gives you the choice as to how close or how far away you want to feel from the music.

It's a very different acoustic to Abbey road.

86 players total today.

So it's a good size orchestra.

We're here in Abbey road studio number one, which is the big orchestral room at Abbey road.

Check, check, one, two, three, test.

Check, one, two, three.

There doesn't appear to be a great deal of absorbent material on the walls, so it still has a bit of a live sound to it.

When the orchestra cuts off you get a really great bit of reverb.

The Beatles recorded their orchestral stuff in here, and then in the '80s it became frequently used for film scores, so "Return of the jedi" was mostly recorded here.

Chorus people, thank you for coming.

Welcome to this process of making "Star Wars". the "Star Wars" prequels were recorded here.

Just winds, please. 33.

One, two, three.

The first three "Lord of the rings" movies were recorded here.

I know when Williams did like his films here, he tended to set up over here and throw this way, the long way.

So that the choir from like "Duel of the fates" was up against that wall.

Our sound engineer on this film, he asked for this layout, because he prefers it in terms of getting the sound that he wants.

When you're a film composer, part of the gig is you're giving the director and the producers the music they want.

But at the end of the day, if they don't like it, it's not in the movie.

My crew in the mixing room consists of the engineer, who in this case is a guy named Casey Stone.

He's sitting behind the board and he's operating all the faders.

He's the one who set up all the microphones in here, laid out the plan for how we were going to record everything.

Next to him is a gentleman named Louis, and Louis is operating the pro tools, so he's controlling the clicks that I hear in my headphones, and that all the musicians hear in their headphones.

And then he's also recording all the takes, making sure they're all labeled correctly.

There's a gentleman named John Finklea, he's the music editor.

He is the person who will take all the takes and assemble not only the version that we use in the film, but also the version that we end up making the soundtrack album from.

Next to him is the orchestrator, who in this film is Matt Dunkley.

I do all my writing in a computer.

The orchestrator takes that file and converts it into an orchestral score, a score that I can conduct from,

and from which parts can be generated and given to all the musicians.

And they don't have to see all the other parts.

Great. Really, really.

Moving on?

Yeah. Ready?

Different cities, different influences, different rooms.

In London, usually they play with a gentle sound.

In Los Angeles, they play with a stronger sound.

I do work very hard.

You know, and I have a team that also works hard with me.

It takes a lot to get to this point.

It really is like your life story, using the picture as a vehicle to show the human that you are.

That was amazing.

Conducting a score is something that everybody used to do.

It's not so much that the composer doesn't have the chops to go out there and conduct an orchestra, many of them do.

But it's often more important for them to be in the booth, listening to what the orchestra is playing, and sitting right there with the director to know how the director's feeling about what he's hearing.

Let it play.

If you speak to John Powell, or Hans Zimmer, they'll say they prefer to be in the control room, not conducting, because that's where everything's fed through, they have more control.

I mean, basically, we're all going after the same thing.

We want the best result, the best performance for the film.

A lot of composers like to be in the booth, so that they can be closer to the director.

But I personally feel I get the best performance when I'm conducting my own music.

Good morning!

This is a film for Paramount. It's lots of fun.

John has done a great, oh my god, what a score.

So without further ado, our composer and conductor, John debney.

Good morning.

We're gonna start out with 5m1v3.

Let's make some sound.

One, two. Two.

Good read. Good read.

Sight-reading musicians, the studio musicians, really are an incredible breed.

Producers or filmmakers, they say, "Well, how many days do they have to rehearse this?"

And I say, "none. That was it. They never saw it before".

And they go, "What? What?"

There's a technique to being able to sight-read, to being able to congeal as a section, as a studio sight-reading orchestra.

24, we are faster right away.

When you're writing music, you're writing a letter to the performers.

You're giving them a set of instructions on what they're supposed to do.

And if you do it right, then it should be a love letter.

And it... you should show again, "I know your instrument. I know who you are".

You have many, many players trying to play the same note, but no one can.

Everyone is off by microns of a percentage, which gives it that chorusing effect.

If everything was consonant and perfect, Music would... It would be terrible.

I mean, it would be like putting auto-tune on Etta James.

You know, it just would take all the soul out of it.

And honestly that's why we have...

Why orchestras sound beautiful.

If there's ever a time where I'm not able to get on a scoring stage and work with 90 musicians, I'll probably do something else.

Working with the live musicians, that's what I live for.

Standing on the podium, and giving a downbeat to a piece of music that you've spent a long time crafting.

And hearing it for the first time, I guess it's like seeing your child for the first time being born.

The joy, the emotion of what that is, it's really everything to me.

Pretty darn good take.

That's the real power of the orchestra and I think that's why...

That's why I think it'll never disappear.

Certainly it's been transformed and will continue to be transformed, but I think at the heart, um...

It's kinda the most human element and the most emotional element we have.

Let's go from 20 to the end of 48.

This film has a lot of music.

It's an action film, it's a tentpole movie, so they tend to be more wall-to-wall.

You know, "Jack Reacher" had about 60 minutes of music.

This has about 110.

You do see the billboards up before you're finished doing the film.

You drive past it thinking, "but the music's not written yet". the scary thing is going down to the subway in New York and I'm halfway done and seeing your name on the poster, and saying, "oh god," you know, it's... i have a long way to go in two and a half weeks". the more expensive the movies get, they do let you know this.

You know, the... the occasional, you know, hint gets dropped by the studio that you know, everything is riding on this and you better, you know, whatever.

So this is not necessarily inspirational, it's just terrifying.

The complexity of putting these things together is immense now, and the pressure is immense.

Our studio?

We're rolling close to a half a billion dollar roll every time we take out a single movie.

Do you know how much you have to make?

Every movie that you're making has to be in the top 20 of all-time box office.

It's insane.

I just think the complexity of the business overall has...

Has brought a complexity to the art form.

On the movie "Armageddon," which I did, I literally got a clock from Jerry Bruckheimer with a countdown clock, counting down to the day we finish, and that was in front of me at all times.

Deadlines can be terrifying.

The schedule on this film is so accelerated, it's on a whole other level of professionality.

It's been about six hours so far, we've got another three hours to go.

So guess what, six clicks into bar 29.

Yeah, you should go up a half step, I think.

This kind of situation is so expensive, and so hard to organize.

But there's always more than one way to solve a problem.

And you can solve this problem by changing the music at this cut, or you can solve it by changing the music at that cut.


As filmmaking styles have changed, film music itself has changed.

And as filmmakers have realized that, over the decades, um, they've asked for different things and gotten different things.

What happened in 1978-79?

Somebody flipped on a synthesizer.

When the synth came in, actually, punk also happened.

And you have this incredible new extroverted musical intelligence going on.

Danny Elfman. He was a performer.

You know, Tim Burton, one day he gets to make a movie.

Who's he going to have score it?

Hey, how about his favorite band?

Yeah, love Oingo Boingo. Who's in Oingo Boingo?

Who's really the principal songwriter?

Who's really doing... oh, it's this guy Danny Elfman.


I was starting to write weird but elaborate compositions.

I wrote this thing called "the Oingo Boingo piano concerto no. 1 and a half".

Without having written that, I never would have taken "Pee Wee's big adventure".

Since he was a kid, more or less, just a really curious person who's been amusing himself, you know?

At first it was, you know, just the antics of Oingo Boingo, and then the whole Tim Burton, Pee Wee.

There's nothing bland about Danny.

Thanks a lot, crew.

Danny is the composer who grabs you by the collar during the main title of the movie and says, "I'm about to take you into a world, and here's what's it's about".

Danny's biggest strength is I think he comes up with the most amazing little short musical ideas that then become big musical ideas.

When he fully, like, exploded with "Batman," everyone's mind was blown.

"Batman", there was only one template: John Williams, and we didn't wanna do that.

Again, I had nothing to go on.

There was no model of what kind of chords, how you do, like, a darker score that's still fun and has energy.

And I realized what I tried to learn from Bernard Herrmann years earlier, which is, there is only one rule.

There are no rules.


He can broach the big, orchestral world with the very uber contemporary world, and he does it really seamlessly.

And you can hear his sound, his personality.

Thomas Newman is one of those composers that it's very difficult to sort of describe what the sound is.

Like Danny Elfman, Thomas has developed his own sound.

The first score I worked with him on was "Shawshank Redemption".

His music is extremely edgy and unique and he has an unmistakable mark, it's like a watermark on anything that he does.

That's a lasting piece of art, "Shawshank".

My name is Lester Burnham.

When I saw American Beauty, and I heard Thomas Newman's first notes in the first frames of the movie... I think it's a marimba that you hear.

It absolutely sets the tone of the film, puts you a little off balance, lets you know that you're in for a somewhat odd, offbeat take on American life.

The great thing about Thomas Newman is he's managed to capture a way of doing uncertainty, so it's never... It's never too committed, but it's musically kind of got this great character to it.

He will generally, in a cue, he'll establish a key center.

Things will start to weave in and out around that, around that baseline.

That creates a kind of a texture that lives behind the orchestra.

When the orchestra comes in, it becomes part of that texture.

Well, that particular language just didn't exist.

It was... came out of Thomas Newman's brain.

Thomas Newman is Alfred Newman's youngest son.

Yes, he is orchestrally trained and he can write a great orchestral score, but sometimes the movies he was working on required something more intimate.

A lot ot times you can get a mood, a prevailing mood and just slap it onto an image and let it sit for two minutes.

Everybody rips it off. Everybody.

And they don't realize. They don't realize.

They're thinking "this is film music, this is how I do film music.

This is how I do that thing".

And of course it's been imitated and copied, but he was...

He was there at that moment to introduce something new.

It's so difficult to sit down and do that cold emotive solo piano thing

'cause he's perfected it.

MTV is going on the air.

What video are they first gonna play?

A song called, "Video killed the radio star"?

if you look closely, you can see Hans Zimmer in the background.

Hans brought an unconventional rock swagger, okay, to film scoring.

There's a brutality about the way that the orchestra plays. There's a violence, if you will.

An aggression.

There's an intensity about it, an intensity about how it's written, an intensity about how it's played.

The single female voice of Lisa Gerard in that film, on top of the visceral power of the orchestra...

Really had an impact on the audience.

I will see you again.

But not yet. Not yet.

We had this idea. It had to be a woman's voice.

Why do you want a woman's voice in a gladiator movie?

The next day we came in, and there was that hand on the wheat field.

And that shot holds for a minute.

If you have written that in the script it wouldn't have even made it to being shot.

Why would you hold your hand on the wheat field?

The only way that shot can work was because of the music, because of Lisa's voice.

But it sort of gave license for the rest of the movie to be a little bit more poetic and to be a little bit more expansive.

It really, I think, elevated the whole experience, and it shaped the sound of Hollywood for years afterwards.

Now we're in the Hans Zimmer era.

It just looms over everything.

This is why he's a revolutionary.

Hans took the string section and made them like a guitar.

They're playing rhythm.

And that's a really interesting thing.

I don't think anybody had really done that.

"Pirates". It's like Led Zeppelin.

It's like freaking Led Zeppelin played by an orchestra.

What Hans has certainly done on "Dark Knight" is obviously blur this line between this giant symphonic sound and electronics and you're not quite sure where one ends and the other begins.

The sort of light, repetitive string ostinatos.

You hear that so often.

It's just all about this constant pulse going on.

Terribly powerful.

Terribly exciting.

Hans Zimmer is still... he's a legend and still becoming more legendary.

The end of Inception", it's like a new morning.

When he gets home, he's going to be reunited with his family for real, in reality.

You're led in one direction like it's going to be okay.

Hans Zimmer's score really washes over you in waves.

Then the music just piles it on.

The camera pans down and you're left with a big question.

Wow, music adds quite a bit here.

We've seen over the last five, six years where people that are not film composers were asked by a director to do something unique.

Like Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross.

And I think these are really good examples where people just really love people that have an artist's career in the world outside of film scoring can bring so much authenticity in music and sound to the picture.

The sounds they're using are extremely contemporary.

Their score for "The Social Network" it's an emotional palette. It's a very disturbing kind of lyrical piano.

It's human, but it's technical.

It's emotionally dark, but it's got some feeling to it.

When David Fincher called, "hey, I want you to score my next film". Fuck yeah.

"It's a movie about Facebook".

I would be hard-pressed to think of something that sounded less sexy.

And we were shuffling the deck trying things that didn't feel intuitive.

Talking about changing the temperature of a movie and the emotional response of the audience.

Radically different.

The whole movie feels different after that.

I think it feels like a much more important film than the kind of "ah, college life, Tomfoolery" that it could have been misled into feeling with the wrong music in there.

And ever since that point, there are a lot more electronic artists doing film scores.

Electronic production, and engineering and a whole different way of looking at music that is often much more visceral.

Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross for "The Social Network".

I think it's totally deserved that Trent Reznor not only got nominated but also won an Oscar for score.

It's completely deserved.

When you have an unconventional image with unconventional sound, like with a lot of the things Trent and Atticus are doing, the results can really be so much greater than the sum of their parts.

What the net result of that is, you know, in some ways is sort of beautiful chaos.

Film music has changed, fairly radically.

There's far more experimentation.

There's far more freedom and inviting artists who would never have thought of doing a film score and nobody would have thought of doing a film score before.

And to me that's really exciting.

Technology has made it possible for every composer to be a producer, as well.

At the core of it, though, is the tune.

For this one is the only cue that I feel that we still need to work a little bit.

It happens to be the opening of the movie.

So, if we can get like this our orchestral ukulele, so to speak, in a very simple... Very like plink, plink, plink, plink, plink.

Like that way, yup. Flies it by, yeah.

Very, very kinda sweet.

One, two, three and...

Can we do it... okay.

Can we do it so your nails go on top of the string, so it's kind of dirty.

So you plink, plink, plink, yes, yes.

The cellos now.

An amazing sound.

Happy? I'm more than happy, man.

I'm like hypnotized.

Yeah, yeah.


Man, this is some powerful stuff.


I just wanna thank you again because you are amazing, and what a privilege it is for a musician, like myself, to have you guys playing my music.

So, thank you very much.

Thank you, Heitor.

Film music is essentially a recorded art.

Once you have the recording, then you're into mixing, the more technological part of the production.

Before the music leaves my studio, I just give it one last final mix to make sure everything that I want to be heard is heard.

Every element needs some amount of attention to create the overall feel that you want.

So that's... that's his main little melody.

Very simple, because he's a big simple, evil dude.

So there's a point where, it's a really dramatic moment in the film.

Up until this point in the music I didn't have any French horns, so I introduced them.

You probably can't even hear them.

I can hear them because I know what they're playing, but...

Okay, so, now simply mixing them up a bit.

Every time I played that just then, they were there.

When I turn the horns down, I don't feel that emotional peak.

Now there's 50 foot robots running down the highway, that line better be mixed up loud, otherwise, you're not gonna hear it.

You want your intention to be clear.

The horns just give it kind of more of an emotional weight.

That's a part of mixing, is just making sure the elements that you want to grab hold of the audience are loud enough to make a statement.

And you can't really be wishy washy.

You have to make bold statements.

I think, you know, with "Furious 7," people really reacted to that film on an emotional level.

Paul and his character say goodbye.

That's probably one of the most powerful theater experiences I've had watching a film that I had worked on.

And it kind of crossed over his real life.

You can feel when a cue is working the audience.

That's what I love about film music, if it's all emotion.

I think seeing audience reaction to films that you've worked on is really helpful.

It doesn't help you for the film that you just did, because it's already out in the theater.

But it certainly will help you for the next film.

Seeing literally the reaction of how people respond to your music, that's really cool.

Now often, I'll cruise up to the front, and creepily turn back and look at the audience watching the movie.

Very rarely am I spotted doing that.

Every once in a while I will look through the audience, I'm enjoying everyone watching it, and then there's one head like at the tennis match with the one person like looking right at you looking at them and that's uncomfortable, and then I leave.

You want to get a sense of how did this work?

Especially in the scenes that are really musical.

Did they move people?

And then I do something that's slightly embarrassing.

I will run into a bathroom stall, um, and see if they're humming or whistling the theme, and it is amazing how many times that's actually happened.

It's like the ultimate pat on the back.

To me, I feel like I affected them on a level that they're unaware of.

It's cool to be able to witness people experiencing what I experienced when I was watching films growing up.

And to think that it lives on beyond you is a crazy thing.

I mean, it's definitely gonna outlive me.

You know, these movies will be continued to be watched and that's really cool.

One of the responsibilities we have as film composers, is we're the last people on earth who on a daily basis commission orchestral music.

Without us, the orchestras might just disappear, and I think that will create a rift in, you know, human culture.

I think it will be such a loss to humanity.

We all have this fragility.

We can chat for hours and in a funny way, I'm very secure about this.

I... because I hide behind the work.

You'll never really figure me out.

But when I play you a piece of music, I completely expose myself.

And that's the really scary moment.

I love, I love, I love what I do.

Even when I sit there driven by paranoia, fear, neurosis, you know, pulling my hair out.

I still wouldn't trade it for anything else.

Very few people can be inspired every day to write something brilliant.

Whether or not you're aware of it, music plays such an important role in how you respond to a film.

All your other work on a film can come to nothing if you don't get the music right.

You constantly have to reinvent yourself and you have to adapt to very, very difficult psyches.

It's quite a lot of weight to carry on your shoulders, if you're just struggling and you have self doubts, and sometimes, yeah, sometimes you crash into a wall.

The satisfaction of succeeding, yeah, it's really something.

Film music is one of the great art forms of the 20th and 21st century.

There is something about what the film composer brings in by their intuition.

That unique ecology, that unique combination is what makes film music so powerful, so mysterious, and probably uncaptureable to us as scientists.

When we were cutting "Titanic", James was sending over music as he was... 'Cause what he would do is sketch out on synthesizer, with his synthesist, what he intended to do with the orchestra.

So I was used to getting sort of new ideas coming in.

So I was sitting there cutting one day and a disc came in that said, "sketch".

I thought, "oh, okay, this goes for the sketching scene".

I just kinda slid it around until I found a place where it seemed to sync with the scene nicely.

So serious.

There's a kind of piano downbeat that I just put on Leonardo's eyes coming up and looking directly at the camera.

A critical moment of eye contact between the two of them while he's drawing her, and then, boy, it just really flowed.

So, I was so excited about it, I called him up, I said, "listen, this is working so well".

I put it up to the sketching scene and it's working fantastically.

And he said, "oh, no, no, no, no, that's just a sketch.

It's just a piano sketch of a melody.

We can drop it in anywhere". And I said, "but it works beautifully on this scene.

He said, "really?" I said, "yeah, get your ass over here".

So, he came over, he said, "oh, that works pretty well".

He said, "all right, well, I'll orchestrate it".

I said, "no, no, no, no. Just the piano".

He said, "all right, I know the best pianist in the world.

I know... He's out of London".

I said, "no, it's you, buddy, it's you".