1. Introduction

Posted on Sep 29, 2011 in The Directors/Producers Guide to Working with a Film Composer


The process of creating music for his/her movie usually is for a director a bit different than working with any other film department and often involves a lot of nervousness.

The reason for this is the lacking control over the whole process. Usually, the director has a basic or advanced understanding of how every department in the process of making a movie works. He/she has a specific idea of how the editing of the movie needs to be, how the VFX need to look like etc and can make specific suggestions how to change things he doesn’t like. But when it comes to composing music, most directors can only speak in very basic terms and hardly can point out why they like or dislike certain things. Additionally, it is not possible to see instantaneous results on improvement suggestions. You can instantly cut out 3 frames of a sequence to see whether it is working better while editing the movie but you can’t have an instant new version of a music cue to see whether it works better or not.

All these factors can create a lot of inspiring collaborations with the composer, create fantastic moments of positive surprise, new levels of understanding of the movie etc. but it can also be a nightmare. Especially personalities who want to have control over as many things as possible struggle in the process of scoring the movie which might result in discomfort, tension or even arguments with the composer.

Most of the time, the problem lies in bad or non-existent communication but also in different ideas of what exactly the job of a film composer is.

 As a composer, I have worked with several types of directors ranging from “I have no idea what music would be best for the movie, just do your thing.” to “I want four violins there playing a sequence in minor and then a french horn needs to join playing daaaaaa-da-daaaa.” and the most tension was always created from bad communication.

This guide tries to shed some light on the most common misconceptions of the working process between director/producer and composer, explaining the path of how music is created for your movie.

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