Instructor - Norman Hollyn

Lesson #9

Oct 21, 2003

Additional Material

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.

He Got GameUsing 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 images.

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 site.

IWe'll never have time for it, but it would be nice to look at a short scene from HIGH 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 page.


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 A Film
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 creation.
How Does A Composer Think and Work?
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 final film.
Invisible Art/Invisible Artists
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 Blvd.)
Anne Coates talks about editing UNFAITHFUL
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

Edit 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.

Added Material

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Glossary 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 Group.
Film Music Articles on filmsound.org
A list of intellectual articles, useful links, and other assorted Web sites on film music. Excellent.
What 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.
Wolfgang 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.
Filmmusic Magazine
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.
Music 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.
Sundance/Slamdance directors talk about using music in their films
What most of them discuss is creating an atmosphere for communication between themselves and their composers.
Interview 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, he discusses
"The 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.
John 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.

Though I've tried to accomodate other browsers THIS SITE IS DESIGNED FOR BEST USE WITH IE for the PC, SAFARI for the Mac, and FIREFOX for both the PC and the Mac. It also looks reasonably good on the iPhone. Lucked out on that!

All material, except where noted, ©1999-2008 by Norman Hollyn. Questions? Comments? Suggestions? Send me an e-mail at my office
Last Modified - September 30, 2008