The other day, I was fortunate enough to have lunch with Deon Lee, a graduate student at the University of Southern California in the Scoring for Motion Pictures and Television program. More than a talented musician and composer, Deon is intelligent and intuitive.
My main question for him was how a movie score can be incorporated in an authentic, sincere way. I feel movie scores are often manipulative; their primary aim is to arouse a specific emotion in the viewer. This makes sense when a movie’s primary goal is to frighten or inspire. Can you imagine a typical horror film or drama without music?
On the other hand, a desired emotional effect is the last thing I care about in my films. Rather, I primarily strive to explore life on screen within a particular atmospheric mood. My films may cause one viewer to smile while another weeps. Deon understood my concern and encouraged me to simply communicate my directorial vision to the composer. In other words, rather than discuss a desired emotional effect, I ought to share my visual and tonal approach for individual scenes and the movie as a whole. The composer will then be free to create organically and not be results-driven.
I am still a bit wary about using a music score in my film. I’ve often considered atmospheric sounds as my “score”; however, for this particular project, which explores a woman’s interior life, I believe an authentically crafted score will enhance my film greatly.