Music Composition for Film

As my learning outcomes have pointed to, composing for film is something I really wanted to explore with this project. As we have five films to work on, all of them need music. However, my input to this process only requires composition services for one of the films, Remember.

The director has been pretty adamant with what he would like for his music, however I feel as though this certainly doesn’t fit with what the film requires. With it being a very serious film, Remember, in my opinion, needs very serious music. Whilst the main ideas I have been coming up with fit certain parts of the film, for example the introduction and credits, some of the middle-sections I feel haven’t particularly challenged me.

Remember has been very difficult to compose for, purely because each time I present a piece of music to the director, it isn’t what he wants, or he just doesn’t like it. This has gave me only one option, and has forced me into sitting the director by my side for three hours whilst I compose in front of him, constantly checking he is happy with what I have written. I have done a little composition for film before, and I am almost certain that this is not the normal way this element of the soundtrack is dealt with. However, this has resulted in a fully-scored film (if you can call it fully-scored) that the director is happy with. I, personally, am not. I had a completely different vision for the films music, however I do understand that in the real world, the director will always have the final say, so I did my best to make sure that he was happy with the music he was given, even if i feel as though it doesn’t best reflect my ability, nor does it really fit the film in parts.

I would very much like to revisit some of the music, as it has all been created using software instruments, and whilst for piano, and synthesisers this works quite well, anywhere in the film that incorporates strings sounds fake to me. Performing these parts on a real violin for example, would have sounded far better. However, given the difficulty of getting the director to accept any of the music I produced meant this wasn’t really an option as the project draws to a close.

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Time Management

One of the biggest challenges with this project has been managing our time. The best way we could think to combat this was to create a Google Calendar that we were all included into, to make sure that we all knew what facilities and/or kit we had booked each week to make sure that we could complete jobs quickly and efficiently.

As we had suffered early on into the project with having a series of bookings cancelled, this meant that every time we had a particular studio booked it was necessary to be there at the beginning of the booking and make sure we didn’t leave until the tasks had been completed. If this were in the real world, and we were hiring a studio, this is exactly how we would have to operate. If something doesn’t get done, it overruns into another booking, which then impacts the next job that is lined up.

For example, Remember had some of, but not all of its atmos created early into the project, however since this wasn’t completed at the time, it meant it needed to be done in another session, yet when it came to sorting it, we also had a series of Foley recordings to complete. This is something that for the entirety of the project needs to be managed, hence why we have a weekly meeting to discuss work completed and work to be completed. Anything that overruns into the next week becomes priority to be completed as quickly as possible, however it’s possible that sometimes tasks get a little rushed when this happens.

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Industry Research – Post-Production

The UK’s post-production sector has been a world leader in the audiovisual industries for as long as they have existed. Whether in the creative or technical spheres, its reputation as a highly innovative, high-quality sector that the UK has every right to be proud of has never been higher.
Post-production is a massive part of the film industry, and whilst a lot of the focus and attention falls onto the visual side of things, I believe it is the audio department where the biggest differences can be made to the finished quality of a film.
It’s easy to forgive a film for bad visuals providing that it has acceptable sound-quality. This works both ways, but perhaps depends which area of post you’re working in.
The actual picture for Remember didn’t quite turn out as hoped, this was due to a few different factors, not the least of which was a lack of close-up shots of particular characters. Whilst this can be put down to poor planning, it meant that we had to do the best job we could to make the audio absolute top-quality. Some of the shots in the film have characters with their backs turned to the camera, making our job very easy to either A) use a different line entirely (since you don’t see any mouth movement) or B) use the original line but tweak it to fit the scene better. Whilst the director wanted a very realistic feel to the film, this meant most of the sound was handled as such.
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The Art of Foley

As the films move into the post production stage, I’ve been finding myself more and more interested in the world of the Foley artist. Having done some for a couple of films prior to this project, I had a little experience but this time around I wanted to make sure that I was heading into the Foley booth as prepared as possible, with a proper understanding of what is required as a Foley artist.

‘A Foley Artist ‘recreates’ sound effects for film, television and radio productions on a Foley Stage in a Post Production Studio.’

Simply put, that’s Foley.

If we go deeper into the art of Foley, it is so much more than that. And it doesn’t just have to take place in a bespoke studio. When on location it is absolutely essential to capture the dialogue, and if possible, nothing else. This means that footsteps, clothing movements, the sounds of objects being picked up or put down are often missed. Therefore, as a Foley artist you need to record these sounds separately to make the picture as believable as possible. This however doesn’t just mean any old footsteps will do. Matching the shoes, the surface, the walking style is absolutely critical in making it sound real. If the character wears heels and stumbles a lot, then turning up in trainers won’t cut it.

This is something I’ve been very mindful whilst working on the post production for these films. Whilst Remember has hardly any footsteps in it at all, Feel Good, for example has a lot. Making sure that these characters movements are accurate is all part of the job.

The same goes for objects.

What I really enjoy about Foley however is the detail needed. Subtle things like clothing movements, the sloshing of water in a glass, the dripping of a tap, it all adds to the atmosphere, and it all makes the film seem real.

Foley is not to be confused with SFX. Things like explosions, or car noises, can be created in a Foley studio, but the sounds recorded would need to be manipulated so much that it would be taken well beyond what Foley actually entails.

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Project Management

This project requires a lot of managing. Whether this is managing people on-set, managing the director in post or managing other people within the group, a hands-on approach has been needed at all times.

Making sure that everybody knows what they’re doing at all times has been absolutely essential, and will be as the project continues. Each week we have been meeting between ourselves and planning out the week ahead. This has been extremely beneficial as we have been able to go through each film one-by-one and discuss what has been done, and what needs to be done. In the early days of the project it was mostly about finding out where the films themselves are at, their progress in planning, in terms of locations, dates, requirements, for example. Then as the location dates started coming in we often discussed who would take on each shoot, who was booking the equipment, meeting times and locations. And now, as we’re moving into post-production with each of the films, it’s a been a constant discussion as to who is doing what on what day.

Booking facilities and equipment has been a bit of a struggle at times, as there are many people working on films outside of our project. whilst we have five films covered, they aren’t the only five films being produced by students this semester, so getting to grips with who has what booked and when has been difficult, but manageable. The amount of location recording and post-production we’ve done and and have been doing has meant a near constant use of some of the equipment and facilities. This hasn’t been helped by issues such as dates being changed for location work, or when picture lock is missed, or edits need to be made to correct errors that have been missed.

One of the key parts of managing this project is making sure the communication between director and the manager at our end is as clear as possible. Fortunately, being able to get a text message to the director for Remember has been absolutely no issue, especially when there have been problems with the actual filming. Whilst the communication from our side has been as clear as we could make it, there have been times when the director hasn’t communicated information with us. Such as springing random location dates on us for example. This could be put down to poor management on their part, however it is likely just a bit of missed information.

On top of this, emails between each of us and the film groups are forwarded and shared between us so that we’re all kept in the loop with each others films, opposed to only knowing about our own.

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