Why “Score: A Film Music Documentary” is a Must See

It’s sublime. This new documentary about film scores is exactly that. It’s opportunity of a distinctive kind…the chance to explore what film score composers think, know, believe, feel and do to create the music of the films we love. The documentary gathers together the elite of the Hollywood film world, including directors, producers and composers, to provide observations about the role music has in creating iconic films.

Though professional musicians know much about the technical aspects of composing and performing music specifically made for films, the process is mysterious for non-musicians. We know that we react emotionally to visual images, but we may not always realize the subtle ways that an excellent film score enhances our experiences. We do know exactly which music we’ll not forget, because it is exactly what defines the film- its characters, its style, its story.

Take our insane and compulsive love for movies and music, give us close to 60 industry professionals discussing some of the greatest film scores ever, and we will be seriously happy. In this documentary, cinematic legends talk about the ways their creativity provided the emotions we took away from our viewing experiences. They discuss the techniques used to achieve those results. Even better- they reveal how they feel about their own works.

Directed by Matt Schrader, the documentary is collaborative. Schrader, winner of three Emmy Awards and graduate of the School of Cinematics Arts at USC, has partnered with Producers Robert Kraft, Kenny Holmes, Nate Gold, Jonathan Willbanks, Trevor Thompson, Associate Producer Crystal Chavarria and composer Ryan Taubert. Here’s just a short sampling of the interviewed and a few of their included works:

Composer Hans Zimmer

  • The Lion King
  • Pirates of the Caribbean
  • Driving Miss Daisy

Director James Cameron

  • Titanic
  • Avatar
  • Aliens

Composer Danny Elfman

  • Batman
  • The Nightmare Before Christmas
  • Alice in Wonderland

The list continues with the distinguished: Rachel Portman (The Cider House Rules), Trent Reznor (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), Quincy Jones (The Color Purple), Randy Newman (Toy Story), Tom Holkenborg (Mad Max: Fury Road), Alexandre Desplat (Argo), Brian Tyler (Power Rangers), Harry Gregson-Williams (The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe), Bear McCreary (The Walking Dead), and many, many more. Even Steven Spielberg, John Williams, James Horner, and Thomas Newman are featured in archival footage.

The documentary is full of videos capturing recording sessions, describing the studios, the orchestras participating, the instruments, the technical equipment, and historic footage of recordings such as Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings at Abbey Road, London. The recording technicians explain what is happening as the recording sessions progress. It’s a celebration filled with rare glimpses into the world of creating film scores.

It’s difficult to put into words the excitement this documentary evokes. Peeking backstage or learning backstories has always been intriguing for fans. But there’s something very compelling about this film, which recent critics may have failed to notice. Yes, the film provides glimpses into the reality musicians face when recording for films. True, the interviews are in some cases shorter than we’d like them to be. There is only so much history and technical information which can be added to a 95-minute documentary. Some critics have noted that the film may be better for those who know less about filmmaking than critics do. They are missing the point. This celebration welcomes all of us to catch the glimpses we will catch. We can be like kids at a buffet, enjoying little tastes of everything.

The official website lists the screening schedule for the documentary for the remaining part of the year. The September 23rd screening at the Cineplex Eau Claire in Calgary, Alberta, Canada includes a post film question and answer session with Director Matt Schrader and composer Christophe Beck. It’s also possible to purchase a Blue Ray or DVD version at the Score store online. The Interviews are available as a paperback book, in a Kindle edition or as an Audiobook. There are educator editions, too. All of this gives a nod to the conclusion that everyone is welcomed to this event. Yes, it’s a must see, but even more, it’s a must experience.


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