Scoring your Film: Finding the Tools to Maximize Your Time and Creativity
- July 15, 2015
- Shane Hurlbut, ASC
Capturing the heart of your story is possibly the most difficult part of a film. With all of the time we put into getting equipment together, crews, locations, and storyboards, no matter how much time you put into all of these details, you can still miss the story you want to tell if you are unable to capture key parts in the filmmaking process.
As a Director of Photography, I work closely with the Director in establishing the “look” and “tone” of the film from a visual standpoint – how I choose to lens the film, where I place lights to create color contrast, and how to hide a character’s weaknesses or exploit their strengths.
Even as a Director of Photography, I am still very cognizant of other moving parts of a film. A major element of every film is the film’s score or music.
You might ask, “Really, Shane, you’re concerned with the music choice of the film?” HA HA! You bet I am! Here is a great example. When Director Po Chan and I sat down to start putting together The Ticket for the release of Canon’s 1D-C, she had a vision for a specific sequence in the film where our main characters would be running in a “dream-sequence.” Po saw the dress our actress would wear flowing in the air in slow motion with a song in the background that would continue to set the scene for our story. Understanding Po’s vision allowed me as an artist to see and feel that frame. When I see a script, if all I ever see is where to place lights and where to set the camera, I would be missing the heart of the story. Understanding the music selection during pre-production can shape and develop a scene and the entire film.
The song that was written for The Ticket was “Those Kisses” by Simon Beins. He wrote a guest blog post for us shortly after the film came out talking about his process of creating that song – Hurlblog: “Those Kisses” Music on The Ticket.
The sequence I am referencing to comes up at the 4:40 mark of the film.
That original piece cemented the film. It pulled every piece of artistry together and created a common thread. I can’t even imagine this film without it!
Collaborating with Musicbed for Your Projects
There are going to be many times that you won’t have the opportunity to work with original composers for various reasons. Maybe you don’t have the time to find one, your budget is tight and you’re not sure if you can afford it, or your project just doesn’t call for an original score. A great resource is a website simply named – Musicbed.
I’ve had the great fortune to work with the team at Musicbed on a number of projects and we quickly learned that there is a specific part of their service that is available but not utilized to its full potential – Musicbed’s “chat with a supervisor” function.
When my team and I were putting together the trailer for the Illumination Experience Tour, Director/Editor Jon Carr and I were working on getting the right feel and power out of our trailer. Jon had come down to our studio and shot me on camera talking about my career as a Cinematographer and what I felt this tour would offer to attendees. From there, we chose select pieces of work from my portfolio, some behind-the-scenes video and BAM! We were set! Well, sort of. Now we just needed the right music to score this trailer and to get everyone fired up!
Musicbed sent us some selects to listen to and those songs just didn’t hit the tone we were looking for. We found ourselves sending emails and attempting to contact the team at Musicbed directly, which was becoming a task of waiting and responding. We’ve all been there. It didn’t take long for Will Meier from Musicbed to give me a call and tell me about their service.
Will said to me, “Hey Shane, instead of us going back and forth via email, I want to get you set up with our online music supervisor. That way, you can be directly connected. They can send you samples. You can quickly type out what mood, style, instruments, any form of detail you’re looking for so you and Jon can just keep going without waiting on us.”
I was concerned that this would add extra steps and take extra time, but once Will gave me the steps of what to do, it was very easy.
Step 1: Click the button in the bottom right hand corner of the Musicbed website that stays “Contact a Music Supervisor.”
Step 2: Chat with Music Supervisor about what you are looking for.
Wait?! What!? This is only 1 step?!
To have a service available like this prior to purchasing the music is absolutely incredible. I immediately started thinking about this specific post and wanting to share it with all of you. To thumb through Musicbed’s library of thousands of individual songs searching for the perfect piece to showcase your story is a daunting task.
To find our song for the Illumination Tour Trailer took us a short amount of time, roughly 30 minutes once we started working directly with the Musicbed team. What I liked most about this process of working with them is that the Music Supervisor was able to give us choices of songs that were from different artists, but shared similar instruments, tones and feeling. This really served us given the time pressure we were under and was much easier than attempting to dig and dig through the music to find out which song would sound right for our trailer.
I started off talking with Chris and gave him some details of what exactly we were looking for in our music for the trailer. I gave him some brief descriptions and he came back with a few examples.
Then we listened and I gave feedback on which ones I liked and how I wanted specific aspects of certain songs. Chris went to find more choices.
We eventually chose from one artist’s library of music, as I liked some previous examples and this was the best choice for our needs.
Musicbed can be your outlet for music for simple reasons. They have a wide variety of music from original artists, which makes music you’re looking for more up to date and current. Their service allows for multiple options for music licensing, giving you the opportunity to save money depending on your project and to maintain a level of professionalism to the artists who have put their music in the hands of the team at Musicbed. These artists have trusted Musicbed to create a space for collaboration, connection and storytelling. I think they deliver that unlike any other service out there.