Music And Sound

I strongly recommend getting an experienced sound editor to "build" the sound tracks and prepare for the sound mix. As with lighting and the DP, the sound editor has technical knowledge and experience the director most likely does not have. And like the DP, they can be counted on to offer wonderful creative suggestions. Still, it is the director who has the last word in the orchestration of sound, because it is a conceptual category. When and where to have ambient sound, and what kind, is crucial in creating dramatic tension or creating the proper atmosphere. And it is wise to incorporate sound in the early stages of your conceptualization. Skip Lievsay — a sound designer who has worked with Spike Lee, Tim Burton, and the Coen brothers — told my colleague, the director Bette Gordon: "If you want interesting sound, shoot for it." Sometimes that means simply leaving room for it.

Of course, music can help enormously to create atmosphere and tension. There are films that are carried by the sound track. But don't count on it. Music is a complement, not a supplement, to the story. And it is very subjective. Most directors will have some idea of the type of music they want for their film, and this is a good place to start. If an original score is being composed, the director's sense of what dramatic job the music should do, what atmosphere it must help to create, or what theme it should embody can be communicated to the composer. As in choosing the other collaborators, an important consideration for the director is whether or not the composer will listen to your ideas. And it is guaranteed that they will have ideas of their own — hopefully wonderfully exciting ideas. Be open. You do not just hand the music over, but at the same time, as with all of your collaborations, you should supply a clear input along with a good deal of faith.

Listen to the music against the picture. Look at it again and again. And if it doesn't work, if that thing in your stomach tells you something is not quite right, pay attention to it. And communicate that to the composer.

Music is all around us in today's world. It is playing on my computer as I type this. But that doesn't mean I can use it for a film that has commercial pretensions. Rights must be secured and sometimes that requires the payment of a fee. If a piece of music is important to you, attempt to secure the rights. A student of mine who wrote and directed a wonderful twenty-minute film wanted the rights to a Ravi Shankar/George Harrison piece. She had used it for her "scratch track," and when it came time for the final mix could not think of making a substitution. It was too perfect. As we might expect, the music company turned her down. Being persistent, as all directors must be, she e-mailed Shankar, telling him the nature of her film, and in three days he e-mailed back his permission and got Harrison and the music company to agree. Do not count on this happening a lot, but at the same time it doesn't hurt to try. All directors should take the following dictum to heart: Posi-tivity begets positivity; negativity begets negativity.

0 0

Post a comment