What makes a film score unforgettable? Featuring Hans Zimmer, James Cameron, Danny Elfman, John Williams, Quincy Jones, Trent Reznor, Howard Shore, Rachel Portman, Thomas Newman, Randy Newman, Leonard Maltin, and the late James Horner and Garry Marshall, SCORE: A FILM MUSIC DOCUMENTARY brings Hollywood’s elite composers together to give viewers a privileged look inside the musical challenges and creative secrecy of the world’s most international music genre: the film score. A film composer is a musical scientist of sorts, and the influence they have to complement a film and garner powerful reactions from global audiences can be a daunting task to take on. The documentary contains interviews with dozens of film composers who discuss their craft and the magic of film music while exploring the making of the most iconic and beloved scores in history: “James Bond”, “Star Wars,” “Indiana Jones,” “Pirates of the Caribbean,” “Titanic,” “The Social Network,” “Mad Max: Fury Road,” and “Psycho.”
Q&A with Director Matt Schrader
Where did this idea come from?
SCORE: A Film Music Documentary started years before we knew it had begun. As a cinephile I’d long appreciated the music of film, and in the age of endless press featurettes for Hollywood productions, I’d hoped for a documentary about how film composers create scores. After a few years waiting, and pitching it to my good friend Trevor as something we could pursue, I left my job working for CBS to try to make SCORE.
What was the most difficult part of making SCORE?
Scheduling was an immense headache during production. What many people don’t know is that most prominent film composers are in extremely high demand, which means their schedules can be booked solid for months at a time while they’re trying to brainstorm, write, orchestrate, record and mix. We had to wait more than a year for one of our favorite composers, Bear McCreary, because he was working on six television shows and, as it turned out, the uber-‐secret “10 Cloverfield Lane.”
How did composers receive your requests to interview them?
Most Hollywood composers are used to handling media or interview requests, though they don’t get as many as, say, a rockstar or movie star. For the most part, there’s a tight-‐knit group of journalists on the inside that cover trends in film music, which means everyone knows everyone. We had to break into that industry early on. At first people wondered if we were putting together a YouTube video or an educational video, but as our social media following grew, people started to hear about us. It was exciting to interview James Cameron and learn he was so excited to see the film (though we haven’t sent him a copy yet!)
Who was your favorite person to meet?
Hans Zimmer was very excited to be a part of SCORE. We chatted on a couple occasions about the direction of our film and who we hoped to include in it. He even offered to put us in contact with Thomas Newman, one of his favorite modern composers we tried to reach, though it didn’t work out in the end. Meeting Hans and his team at their studio in Santa Monica was a really mind-‐blowing experience.
Any surprises along the way, or did everything play out as intended?
Almost everything in our original gameplan changed at one point or another. We interviewed different people with different interests and talents and quickly learned we had the makings of something really unique. One of our favorite shoots was with Heitor Pereira at a scoring session, as he showed the orchestra how to play “dirty” by hand for a different kind of sound. Amazing to see how orchestral instruments can be used as sound effects — and sometimes vice versa.
Did you ever worry you weren’t going to finish the film?
Some of us did; I never had any concerns. There came a point where I knew we had enough for a compelling documentary, and my focus changed a bit toward trying to improve the parts that needed work. It was hard to keep us all on the same page as we gathered hundreds of hours of footage, but in the end we were all very pleased with the result. We hope people will enjoy watching the film as much as we enjoyed making it.