Who chooses music for movies and TV shows? Music Supervisor

    Creative Arts Emmy Awards is a special category of Emmy Award in which those who are responsible for technological and other solutions on television and in films are awarded. For example, this award is presented for choreography, costumes, hairstyles, lighting design, make-up and music.

    A new award has appeared in the music category this year - in addition to the award for the composer's best work, original music, and a musical theme are now awarded to music supervisors. The first prize this year was Susan Jacobs, music supervisor for the Big Little Lies series with Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman.

    What does a music supervisor do? Should he be a musician? How does he differ from composer and sound engineer? Why is his role becoming more and more responsible over the years?

    We understand. Photo Matthew G CC

    Between Creativity and Rationality

    Music supervisors are mainly found on television, in the movies and in the gaming industry. Some of the tasks they solve are quite creative. Others are purely organizational and producer.

    1. Search for music . This is the main function of the supervisor. He is looking for musical compositions that suit the mood, theme and essence of the project. The creativity of the task depends on the type of project. Searching for music for a quiz show or reality show is one thing, and for a series, it's completely different.

    How does this happen? There is actually quite a bit of romance. The supervisor receives introductory notes from the director, then listens to a huge amount of various music and chooses the right mood and his (and director's) vision of a particular scene.

    Much depends on the relationship between the director and the supervisor - they can work in a creative “bundle” or have a more formal relationship. In the second case, the director will ultimately be responsible for the vision (even musical).

    The next task is to understand whether it is possible to obtain rights to use musical compositions.

    2. "Cleaning" rights . The duties of the supervisor include the preparation of “turnkey” music - he must check whether it is possible to use the selected songs, coordinate with the authors the receipt of rights to this and arrange the payment of all fees and pianos.

    3. Budgeting. The task is both administrative and creative. Music supervisors have a budget that the project is ready to set aside for the purchase of rights to music. Some songs may well solve the creative task of the project, but cost too much - after their purchase the project will have no money left for other music. Therefore, the supervisor often has to make a choice between “cheaper and more” and “more expensive and less”.

    Photo by Jörg Schreier CC

    Space for creativity

    Even great music cannot make a bad movie or series good, but it can hide inaccuracies or multiply powerful scenes and artistic decisions.

    With a good (or even brilliant) music supervisor, music is not just the background or accompaniment of a visual picture. This is a valuable tool for expressing the emotions of heroes and scenes, conveying important moods and plot. An important scene from the Sense8 series (without this song, it would not have been so big and solid for the whole series).

    For example, Big Little Lies begins to truly come to life already in the introduction - thanks to the powerful visuals, the mesmerizing song of Michael Kiwanuka, and how they complement each other, turning into more than the sum of two parts. There is a viscous atmosphere, and the intense mood of the entire series, which is hidden behind the endless beauty of nature, interiors and people.

    In Big Little Lies, music has its own important role in the plot ( Big Little Lies screensaver ). It conveys the deepest feelings of the heroes, their feelings, emotions and injuries. The director of Big Little Lies, Jean-Marc Valle, was not involved in the work on the series of the composer. They chose all the music along with Susan Jacobs, the music supervisor, and this is the series with one of the best soundtracks in recent years.

    The music supervisor works at the junction of two media - music and the visuals. His task is to select music that will correspond to the vision of the entire project, to help the director solve his artistic problems. And it is he who needs to be thanked when the soundtrack from the movie or the series “settles” for a long time in the playlist.

    Let me be taught

    In fact, to become a music supervisor, you do not need to have a special education. However, the supervisor must be well versed in music of various genres and styles, and be able to search for it, and understand the business cycles of television project production, and have a strong knowledge of the laws in order to clear the rights to compositions.

    Supervisors are musicians, producers, agents or managers who have experience in the music industry. Although a musical education is not necessary at all - the supervisor does not need to be able to write or play music to do an excellent job.

    Over the years, the profession has become increasingly popular - the pace of video content production is constantly growing, especially after streaming video services and social networks have come to the industry.

    Supervisors can be part of the state of a TV channel or company and take part in a number of projects there at once - Netflix, for example, has its own staff of music supervisors who select music for several streamer series at once. Or they can work as contractors whom the teams hire for the entire project or part of it.

    Thank you to

    Many people know the singers or composers behind the music from the film. In the coming years, we are likely to learn the names of the industry’s leading music supervisors. Recall those to whom we owe brilliant soundtracks and powerful scenes.

    Randall Poster is the music supervisor for West Anderson’s films. One of the classic examples of his brilliant work as a music supervisor (in this case, not in collaboration with Anderson) is Sinner man Nina Simon in Thomas Crowne's Scam (1999).

    As for Wes Andreson, his films cannot be imagined without music that complements the picture perfectly. For this RollingStone article , Randall Poster specifically selected seven of his favorite songs used in Anderson’s films.

    Susan Jacobs is the music supervisor of Big Little Lies, Mozart in the Jungle, Wild, and hundreds of films and TV shows. The end of the fourth episode of “Big Little Lie” is an incredible emotion.

    Nora Felder (Nora Felder) - worked on 50 projects, was nominated for an Emmy Award for the work of music supervisor in the series "Very Strange Things" and OA . Music in the OA is almost a more powerful expressive tool than the visuals.

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