Oct 21, 2003
Assignments for Next Week
Handouts for this Week
Lesson for This Week
The Action Sequence
I often refer to music as an extra character in a scene,
except this character actually represents the emotional connections
between the actual characters in the scene. As a fillmaker you'll
quickly discover that music is a powerful addition to the tools you
have in your editorial toolchest, so long as you always keep in mind
that it should always work within the analysis that you have performed
on your script and your scenes.
the opening title sequence from HE
GOT GAME we will look at how music can bring out the underlying
emotions in a scene.
Spike Lee's title sequences are often separate movies
-- longform commercials --which use imagery that may have nothing
to do with the film coming up, to introduce concepts and emotions
that DO have something to do with the film. Tonight we will look
at the opening sequence from this film about basketball. I will play
it scored as it originally was (with music by Aaron Copland) as well
as with two alternate musical choices -- a hip hop song by NWA and
a jazzy style score by David Holmes from his score to the movie OUT
OF SIGHT. Check in with your gut to see how each one makes you feel.
What message(s) is the sequence giving you? How does the contrast
between the second piece in each of the versions (an Aaron Copland
piece that I didn't change from the way it existed in the actual
film) and the opening piece change how you feel about both? How does
each different piece unite or separate the disparate images of the
main title. Note that I have not changed the picture at all in any
of the three cuts. Note that some of the cuts hit the beat and others
do not (Lee's original choice hits the cuts the least, by the way).
Also note the entrance of sound effects as the story begins. You
should be able to recognize the full range of tools that you have
working for you.
At a Filmmakers' Symposium on April 20th and 21st,
1998, Jon Kilik, producer of HE GOT GAME, was interviewed. One of
the students at the symposium asked him what made him decide on Aaron
Copeland for the music. Kilik's response was:
Basketball has today become the classic American
sport, and if it's not already more popular than baseball, it is
at least giving baseball a run for its money. With the Coney Island
backdrop -- representing the fall of an American dream, per se,
it seemed like it was a patriotic quality to the music that we
wanted to incorporate into these other elements of the American
pastime of basketball, and the classic Americana and patriotism
that copeland's music symbolizes. You know to me, it brings back
a lot of the classic movies with that big strong orchestration
like, ON THE WATERFRONT, and there is something about the rite
of passage and the coming of age that we felt mixed well with the
Going back to the examples we saw in class, you can
ask yourself some questions. How do each of the three musical choices
contrast or complement the title design? The images? The style of
the images? How does each choice affect Kilik's examples of patriotism.
We will also discuss the ways in which the editor and
director work with the composer, music editor and music supervisors
to craft the music in the film. An interesting series of articles
by Christine Luethje on the job of the music editor can be found
on the FilmMusicMag
never have time for it, but it would be nice to look at a short scene
NOON, the classic 1952 Gary Cooper western, directed by Fred
Zinneman. In this scene, Cooper sits down at his desk after every
single person in the town has chosen not to join him in his showdown
with the notoriously deadly Miller gang, come back to the town seeking
revenge on Cooper for putting one of them away years before. The
score by Dimitri Tiomkin neatly marks the passage of time as we await
the arrival of the remaining group of villains arriving on the train.
Note especially the way the music ends -- in pure silence. This scene
is discussed in a recent New
York Times interview with director Wolfgang Peterson. Note how
the use of music ties together the use of parallel cutting between
all of the major characters in the story, returning to Cooper periodically
in image but constantly in the heroic, but dirge-like, music. The
analysis of this scene must surely have been about plot as well as
character; Cooper's mission is overtaking his life (he has virtually
broken up with Grace Kelly, his new bride, at this point in the story).
How does the music tell us about character and the oncoming showdown?
How do the choices of entrance and exit points affect that message?
A blow-by-blow plot description of the film appears
on the filmsite.org
- What Does Everyone DO
in Film Music?
- On a big feature film there are an array of people who guide
the creation of the score -- apart from the director, producer
and studio. This handout attempts to sort through some of the categories
on a typical film.
- Clearing Music For
- Do you know the difference between synch licenses and master
licenses? You'll need both if you're going to use a song or some
pre-existing music in a film. Can you use three notes of "Happy
Birthday" and get away with it? This handout will help you
get through this.
- Film Scoring - Technical
and Aesthetic Considerations
- A short mini-course by a film composer, downloaded from his web
site. You can access this and a few other items, by going to Mark
Slater's Geocities site, which is still in an early stage of
- How Does A Composer Think and
- This 1997 interview with Danny Elfman talks about getting into
the heads of the directors he works with, his use of "leitmotif",
the fish tank scene in MISSION IMPOSSIBLE and his work with Tim
Burton. An excerpt of the interview, originally published in Film
Score Monthly, was handed out in class. The complete interview,
along with many other articles on film music, is available in the Film
Score Monthly site.
Script Pages for YOUNG INDIANA JONES (not available online)
- These script pages are lined, but be careful because not everything
may be lined correctly.
- Interview with Tracy Granger and
Lee Percy, editors of BOYS DON'T CRY
- There are a number interesting things that the two editors talk
about in regards to what we are studying. Granger discusses the use
of music and sound in determining character and in shortening the
edit of the film. Percy then discusses the process of focussing the
edit of the film -- recutting it, shortening it, and creating the
- Invisible Art/Invisible
- The morning before 2001's Academy Awards, ACE (the American Cinema
Editors) presented a panel discussion with the five nominated editing
teams. This article has some interesting quotes from that discussion.
It is excerpted from a larger article on the EditorsNet Web Site.
There is another one of these panels, with 2003's Oscar nominees (click
here to see who they are) and all of the editors will be there.
The panel is on March 22nd at 10am at the Egyptian Theatre (6712 Hollywood
- Anne Coates talks about
- Anne Coates is a thoughtful, but internal, editor whose personal
passion has informed films as wide ranging as LAWRENCE OF ARABIA and
OUT OF SIGHT. In this interview, a portion of which was handout out
tonight (the full version is available here),
she talks about the balance of editing a film like UNFAITHFUL. One
clip I particularly like is the following:
Editing on film is an inward
process of carefully thinking about your cuts beforehand, then making
them in the right place at the beginning. With the Avid system, I
often put the rough cuts in immediately where I think they should
go, then work out the details afterwards. I like to have thinking
time when I edit and the Avid gives me both the opportunity for quickly
trying different things and for taking the time to feel the overall
emotion, drama, or humor of a particular scene
Assignments for Next Time
the scene from YOUNG INDIANA JONES
- Cut the first half of this scene, up to the entrance of the villain
Zeich. As you do your analysis, be aware of who wants what and where
things change. What are clues that reveal answers to Young Indy?
Who do you want to accent in your edit? Who will you be accenting
in the second half of the scene? Who is winning, who is losing? Also,
if you want, you can cut the first scene of the two -- the one in
the first cave ("He's tapping every stone!"). However,
even if you'd edit that scene, take a look at the script for it so
you can see what is going on in the scene that you are cutting.
Why is Zeich in the first cave? Why are Indy and Remy ahead of him?
- Read Chapters 13, and 13A in the book.
- This is now getting into looping and sound editing.
(Page will open in a new window. Close it to return
to this page.)
of Terms Used In Film Music
- This is a list of tons of terms that people use in film music,
in particular in licensing music for film, that I compiled
for a Web site that I'm doing for the Universal Music Publishing
Music Articles on filmsound.org
- A list of intellectual articles, useful links, and other assorted
Web sites on film music. Excellent.
Does A Scoring Session Look Like?
- The first picture on this page, borrowed from trumpet player Jon
Lewis' web site (which is a sort of scrapbook about the Los
Angeles music recording scene) shows the set-up of the big music
recording stage on the old MTM lot. The second shows David Newman
conducting his score for GALAXY QUEST.
Peterson Talks About "High Noon"
- In this interview from the New York Times Peterson talks about
the influence that this 1952 Fred Zinneman had a young boy in post-war
Germany. Along the way he talks about the use of music in the film,
expecially the use of silence combined with music.
- A series of links from the rather thorough and interesting Filmmusic
Magazine, including an article on what everyone in the film music
industry actually does.
Editing On "Return To Me"
- Michael Jay, the music editor on Bonnie Hunt's film, talks about
how he confronted two complicated music editing problems, relating
to using old songs in the soundtrack and recording music to a pre-existing
track with a variable tempo.
directors talk about using music in their films
- What most of them discuss is creating an atmosphere for communication
between themselves and their composers.
with Robert Wise
- Wise, the editor of CITIZEN KANE, turned himself into an amazing
director in his own right. Here, in an interview at UC Berkeley,
Phantom Edit" -- STAR WARS with a difference
- Last year someone took a video copy of STAR WARS: THE PHANTOM MENACE
and re-edited it, slicing twenty minutes out of the film. My friend Chaz
Austin (an Internet guru who has been doing Web consulting for
as long as the Web has been called that, but who also has a background
in the film and music business) posted a copy of this article about
the re-edit (borrowed from salon.com)
on the web site for his UCLA
Extension class. There's some interesting discussion about how
the film moves "too fast" in places and why this is so.
Gilroy talks about editing NARC
- The use of split screen effects and other stylistic devices posed
a challenge in the editing of this film. How Gilroy used the Avid
to solve some of those issues is discussed in this Avid-written article.
- Download the handout
from the Writers Guild and read part of it.
- The half that I want you to look at is an interview with two composer's
-- Michael Small and Carter Burwell -- who have some interesting
things to say about how
to look at filmed music. Note that this
is rather large PDF download and will require that you
have Adobe Acrobat Reader. Click on the icon to the right to get
that program if you don't have it. You'll need to register with Adobe.