When you think of movies, do you think about their music? For the general movie fan, it’s probably safe to say that they don’t because that’s not the reason why you go to the movies. But there’s a new documentary that will challenge that altogether.
“Score” is a new documentary film written and directed by Emmy Award-winning Matt Schrader that reasons why film music is so crucial to today’s feature films. “Music themes, or motifs, really make us feel what the movie is all about,” said John Debney in the documentary.
Debney himself has been writing music for film and television for nearly 30 years, but really began his interest in working in the industry after having grown up on the Disney lot in Burbank, CA and hung out with famed Disney composers Richard and Robert Sherman. He ultimately got to work on writing music for Disney on films like “Chicken Little”, “The Princess Diaries”, and most recently “The Jungle Book” (2016).
Through a clear narrative that includes career stories like Debney’s, the documentary breaks down the process of what it takes to write, record, and then add music scores to films. From initial “picture spotting” where the composer and the director identify what parts in a film need music to then exploding that initial melody to each part of an orchestra and beyond, it’s a process that can be lengthy and stressful, but very rewarding – for both the filmmakers and composers, as well as the audience.
Brian Tyler, another composer who did work for Disney including Marvel’s “Avengers: Age of Ultron”, said in the documentary that he likes to go to his local theater and head into the restrooms after one of his films finish to see if anyone is humming the themes. “It’s weird, but when I hear it, I know I did my job,” he said.
Many other composers who worked on Disney film projects were also interviewed about their jobs and their processes to make music like Tyler Bates (“Guardians of the Galaxy”), Christopher Lennertz (“Galavant”), Henry Jackman (“Big Hero 6″, Captain America: The Winter Soldier”), Christophe Beck (“Frozen”, “Cars 3”), Patrick Doyle (“Brave”, “Thor”), Thomas Newman (“Finding Nemo”, “Saving Mr. Banks”), Randy Newman (“Toy Story”, “Monsters Inc.”), Danny Elfman (“The Nightmare Before Christmas”), and Jerry Goldsmith (“Mulan”).
Additionally, some of the composers that got even more of a spotlight in the documentary because of their incredibly memorable and award-winning scores included Hans Zimmer (“Pirates of the Caribbean”, “The Lion King”) and John Williams (“Star Wars”, “Indiana Jones”).
It was great seeing all these composers share their thoughts on why music in movies matter, which was all backed up by some amazing behind-the-scenes footage of some of the scoring (or recording) sessions with the very talented orchestra (that usually has mere minutes to learn the music before recording!). Yes, that includes some rare archival footage from John Williams scoring “Star Wars”!
“Score” is an informative and entertaining tribute to the unsung heroes of making movies incredibly personal and enjoyable. Thanks to the creative composers and talented musicians who often don’t get recognized audiences, this documentary flips that on its head and gives these people the credit they very much deserve in making movies memorable and purely entertaining.
You can watch “Score” in theaters during select dates in select locations in the United States. Otherwise, you can pre-order it when it comes to iTunes later this year. More information can be found on the film’s website.
Our special thanks to the “Score” filmmaking team for allowing us to watch an advanced screening for this story!