“What helps offset the predictable in this very predictable movie is a series of show-stopping numbers, so props to the folks who oversaw music and choreography.” – Betsy Sharkey, Los Angeles Times Film Critic
Full disclosure to anyone reading this, I myself helped out on this film for just under half of the process; my boss is one of those “folks who oversaw music.”
It doesn’t take a member of the music industry, though, to appreciate how much work went into the musical aspects of Pitch Perfect. Julia Michels and Julianne Jordan were the executive music producers of the film – responsible for working with the director on music selection, overseeing all the a cappella arrangements, music clearance, both pre-recording and vocal sessions during post-production, facilitating the creation of the three recorded mashups in the film, playing vital roles in the creation of the soundtrack and so much more.
Among all the skills necessary for a music supervisor to master, perhaps the most difficult is how to be an ally to everyone. No two collaborators are the same. Different taste. Different agendas. Different levels of tech savviness. The list goes on. Producers, Studio Executives, Music Editors, Editors, family friends, spouses…I’ve seen all of these folks be called in to submit their opinions on song selection at one time or another. Of course, the most important person to please on the creative team is the director. The director needs to feel taken care of, confident that you are doing everything in your power to serve their vision and make their precious baby come to life exactly how they’d like (which I don’t mean in a derogatory way – I’m sure any director will agree to the film/baby analogy).
But it’s not just those making the film or television show that a music supervisor has to attend to. Even when there are zero dollars in the budget to bargain with, labels and publishers also need to feel appreciated and valued. To know that you are always fighting to get their artists paid what they are worth. It’s their job to support their artists, and to do so they need you to support them. For a music supervisor, problems arise when these two core desires (to complete the director’s vision and ability to pay artists a good/fair price) come into direct conflict.
Over the past few weeks I’ve been bugging people to vote for two panels that I proposed for the 2013 South by Southwest Film, Music and Interactive Festival (and hopefully come December I’ll get to tell you all that they were accepted). One of these panels is on a topic that I’ve been interested in for quite some time, The Future of The Soundtrack, and I am nerdily excited to get the chance to moderate a discussion between experts.
In my time working around and on soundtracks and various marketing initiatives for film and television, there are also certain observations I have made that I hope to debate, to get an official opinion. Until I (fingers crossed) find myself in a position to consult those supervisors and executives that I admire so much, here are my thoughts on the topic.
By Amanda DK
With the annual South By Southwest Music, Film and Interactive Festival now just days away, industry professionals from blogger to supervisor are all hustling to catalog, notate and RSVP to entire inboxes full of artist schedules and event invitations. Of course, the day they land in Austin on March 14 (or earlier), the meticulous work will all be in vain, swept away by word of mouth and tagging along with friends to that secret show no one else knows about. Thus is the glorious standard operating procedure at SXSW.
For most people I know, the above rarely includes conference panels. It’s easy to enjoy the festival without spending the $500 – $750 on a badge, and avoiding the Austin Convention Center entirely. Still though, SXSW was founded on a conference and that is still at it’s core.
By Amanda DK
Yesterday morning, key players in the field of music supervision all gathered at Magnolia Downtown to honor the outstanding accomplishments of their peers. The crowd, comprised of music libraries, labels, publishers, studio executives and independent supervisors large and small, was chatty and buoyant (possibly due to the free flowing champagne, mimosas and bellinis), packing the restaurant and spilling out onto both the front and rear patios. As always, with this tight knit community, it felt more like a casual garden party than a formal affair. Presenters giggled their way through the lists of nominees, and tossed out industry inside jokes on the fly. Even a few technical difficulties couldn’t dampen the mood.