Just spent an exhilirating, exhausting and truly inspiring 2 weeks in the Buddy Baker Film Scoring Workshop co-sponsored by NYU and ASCAP. In it’s sixth year and now in memoriam to Buddy as he passed away a few summers ago.
Buddy was one of the long-time Disney composers (something like 28 years!). Those studio golden days seem to be over – especially in terms of music departments. Even Pixar, the closest thing to the studio setup that Walt had, doesn’t have composers on staff.
In the old days of Disney, animators and composers would talk and meet periodically and then work parallel paths. Animators had a time sheet and script/storyboard which they would work from and composers would take that information and create their cues. The picture and music would get married up only towards the very end. It really is creating something from nothing. Yes there is a story and that’s what holds the two together. Too often in today’s pressurized, commercialized productions the picture is given all the attention and the music is literally slapped on at the end. Now I have no doubt that great music supervisors can find music that fits your picture and adds something you never could have imagined. On the other hand, films like Lord of the Rings or Star Wars…I can’t imagine them having such long-lasting influence and impact with a licensed score. Yes there are times you NEED a song from the popular culture zeitgeist. Scorsese does it all the time. And now he also uses Howard Shore for scoring those other scenes that need underscore. Or you can hire someone to write songs specific to the film – this seems to be out of fashion nowadays.
I call it the Rise of the Editor culture.
When hiphop started to take the film editors approach to assemblage using “found footage”, filmmakers also started to take the same approach towards their music soundtracks. And with anyone who grew up in the age of MTV, fast cuts and cutting to music is the norm.
I’ll share more of the workshop in the next few days.