Music Production – All You Need is Love (and a Great Team)

Andy Porter Behind the Scenes Leave a Comment

Collaborating with imaginative, occasionally brilliant people who see and hear stuff you simply don’t is one of the wonderful things about working in the production business. We recently said goodbye to David Bowie, a peerless example of the ability to imagine the world differently and express that through music. Bowie’s influence was everywhere – possibly more than any other single artist of the last 50 years. And he loved to collaborate – in the recording studio, on film, on stage – he sought to stretch his creative impulse by working alongside people whose different horizons could expand his own.
In production we’re constantly striving to make work that captivates its audience by delighting and surprising them. This only comes from a collective effort. That means keeping your ears open to every possible source of ideas and embracing them. With the right environment an eager 19 year-old runner can make just as big a creative contribution as a veteran director of photography. I love this about our industry – at its best it’s truly democratic, increasingly so. The auteur director is an anachronism – if he (and it always was a “he”) ever existed in the first place.
Great work is a team effort. Genius as he was, Orson Welles only made Citizen Kane because he chose his team well – step celestially forward Herman J Mankiewicz, co-writer and Gregg Tolland, cinematographer. Getting right up to date, the Revenant’s Oscar winning director Alejandro G Inarritu will doubtless be first to attribute more than a bison liver’s sliver of the film’s glittering success to his trusted director of photography Emmanuel Lubezki. That is before he gets around to mentioning the cast, composer, design department, special effects guys et al.
Putting two very different pieces onto the same edit adds an entirely alternative, fresh perspective to the pictures. Choosing music “against type” can be a lot of fun. Having it composed can be even better. The composers we’re privileged to work with are music lovers first. …..Andy Porter
I was listening to Quentin Tarantino interviewed on BBC Radio 6 Music and was struck again by his encyclopaedic knowledge of the breadth of musical genres that are represented in his movies and his meticulous, single minded determination to get the score that a scene demands, no matter the cost. He’s probably as close as we’ve got to an auteur director – but he too relies on his trusted collaborators and by way of a brief was prepared to hand over a shooting script to Ennio Morricone and film all of the Hateful Eight before he heard back from him with a single note. When the music came it was more like a horror film score than anything remotely “Western” which for Tarantino and his editor made it mysterious, intriguing and ultimately right.
Music is always the most subjective element of any production. It’s also one of the elements I find most compelling. Putting two very different pieces onto the same edit adds an entirely alternative, fresh perspective to the pictures. Choosing music “against type” can be a lot of fun. Having it composed can be even better. The composers we’re privileged to work with are music lovers first. Whether it’s a 30” TV slot or an underscore for a documentary style brand film their professionalism and desire to do something that genuinely makes a difference to enhance the production shines through. They definitely don’t do it for the money. They do it for the love, and long may that continue.

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