Music in Film


music

by Elizabeth English

Music! Ah, yes. The power of music in film. A feature film needs at least 30 to 40 minutes of music, which is one of the most important elements in a successful film.

A film score can be artfully used to:

  • AROUSE
  • MANIPULATE
  • FRIGHTEN
  • SOOTHE & CALM
  • AID IN TRANSITIONS
  • PUNCTUATE A MOMENT OR SCENE
  • COMMENT
  • MOVE THE PLOT ALONG
  • FOCUS & ARTICULATE
  • ADD A SENSE OF CONTINUITY
  • ADD INFORMATION
  • HEIGHTEN THE TEMPO
  • ADD DRAMATIC TENSION
  • ADD TO COMEDIC ELEMENTS
  • CHANGE THE MOOD
  • ADD CHARACTER
  • DEFINE A SCENE OR CHARACTER
  • ADD DIMENSION
  • GIVE THE FILM NEW OR DIFFERENT MEANING

And you thought only the film director and the actors did all that?

The major categories of a film score are:

  • THEME, such as the musical theme from James Bond films
  • SOURCE, as from a radio or a band shown on screen.
  • MOVIE SONG, as the music from “Titanic”.
  • UNDERSCORING, soft, “seen but not heard” music
  • DEVELOPMENTAL or NARRATIVE music, which adds to story as it unfolds, weaving in and out, through the film.
  • COUNTERPOINT MUSIC, adds to contrast, adds conflict
  • FORESHADOWING, sets up for the next scene
  • OVERTURE, the central core. Sets mood, sets time, sets location.
  • LEITMOTIF, which identifies a character or repeated action on screen, such as the scary tune in “Jaws”, when the shark is about to appear.

Along with a good screenplay, and great dialog, music is what makes a film memorable!

These are the talents and crafts need to make a good movie:

  • actors
  • animal wranglers
  • art director
  • assistant directors or ADs
  • best boy
  • body doubles
  • book-keeper/accountant
  • caterers
  • cinematographer or DP
  • continuity
  • costume designer
  • director
  • drivers
  • editor
  • extras
  • extras
  • extras, location manager
  • fire marshal
  • focus-pullers
  • Foley
  • gaffers
  • hair
  • insurance executives
  • key grips
  • lighting technicians
  • line producer
  • location manager
  • makeup
  • musical score composer
  • production assistants or
  • PAs
  • production designer
  • production financing
  • prop master
  • script supervisor
  • security
  • set designer
  • sound technicians
  • special effects
  • stills photographer
  • story board artists
  • studio execs
  • stunt coordinator
  • tech advisors, screenwriter
  • videographer
  • wardrobe
  • wranglers

POST-PRODUCTION PHASE: editing, sound, foley, dubbing, special effects, background ambience, film score music, lab work, color, title, trailers, promotion and advertising.

All of these vital crafts and elements contribute to making the “Dream Factory” world of the film believable to movie audiences!

Moondance and Women in Film, Writing and Music Pitching Hollywood 2002
Moondance and Women in Film, Writing and Music
Pitching Hollywood 2002