Posted on August 28, 2017

The soundtracks to films are an immensely important part of the overall experience, and have been for decades - think about the epic scores to films like Jurassic Park, Indiana Jones, Star Wars, or Jaws, and you'll instantly be hooked by the perfectly composed music. But how much work goes in to making every note and every nuance stand the test of time? We asked the director of the Calgary Film Selection SCORE: A FILM MUSIC DOCUMENTARY, Matt Schrader, to tell us what goes on behind the scenes of blockbusters and indie films alike. He worked closely with some of the most well-known composers in the history of film to get a sense of how a film score comes together, and how it's an entire art form unto itself. Here's what he had to say!


Can you briefly summarize what your documentary is about?

SCORE is a film about the composers who craft evocative and sometimes even provocative movie music. Reflecting upon film music’s historic past, modern composers explore storytelling possibilities and industry realities of arguably the world’s most international music genre.

How did you first learn about this story?

I’d always hoped to watch this film, and after years passed without a documentary on the composers, I decided to leave my career in journalism and try to make the film with a small team of talented friends.

What's one new thing that you learned when making this film? 

We were astonished that studio musicians sometimes only get to play a piece of music once. Sight reading has become essential, and the musicians are so good that they usually only need to record it one time.

Can you share a behind the scenes story from filming? 

It was revealing to hear every composer describe themself as a filmmaker more than a musician. Hans Zimmer told us about his sleep deprived nights trying to watch lots of films, and many others including James Cameron talked about the sacred chemistry between director and composer and how it can shape a film. We were amazed to hear about how Hans will meet with Christopher Nolan to discuss aspects of the story, not just the music.

In SCORE you explore the development of some of the most iconic film scores. If you had to pick just one, which film score had the biggest impact on you and why?  

My personal favorite is E.T., because the ending really allows the music to transcend. It shows how much more music can add than dialogue or exposition, and the audience comes away with such a charge after seeing that film. I don’t think it’s possible to hold back the goosebumps!

Scores have been central to films since before talkies were even introduced. How have movie scores impacted film history? 

We really wanted to show a through line going all the way back. It’s fun to see how film music began almost as an experiment and has continued to be experimented with ever since. All of those trials and errors result in our modern world of film music, and the continuing evolution of the art form. It’s especially interesting to me personally to examine the scores that really changed history — for instance, the introduction of jazz, or the endless horizon of modern electronic instruments that are allowing for new sounds never before heard.

SCORE has been connecting with audiences around the world, taking home audience awards at many festivals. Why do you think it's connecting so deeply with people? 

Thank you! It’s been an honor to share the film and be able to see their love of film scores grow. I’ve always believed the magic is real, and if that’s true, sharing a bit of the alchemy with the public will really help foster an appreciation for it. The most humbling and rewarding thing we’ve heard from the public is that our film has made people want to feel the music throughout the film, understanding why it’s there and what its role is in the story and emotion.

What do you hope audience take from this film?

I hope people come away with a little more appreciation of the infinite possibilities in film scores and how they change the way we view film. Composers discussed how music can create certain feelings when paired with picture — even making images more vibrant, or directing where we look on the screen. These are powerful musical instincts and composers have a unique control over how to take us on this ride.


Meet director Matt Schrader and composer Christophe Beck at the screening of SCORE: A FILM MUSIC DOCUMENTARY as part of the 2017 Calgary International Film Festival. Tickets are now available. In the meantime, pick up a 10- or 20-pack of tickets, or even a full Festival Pass, to make sure you don't miss this film or any other great content on our screens this year!

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