TIPS AND TRICKS
Toward a Better Indie Film Music Soundtrack
By Jim Chase
The time for the Director/Producer (D/P) team to think about the music for an Indie feature length film or short is during casting and hiring. The Film Music Composer (FMC) should be considered before the production phase of your project.
The concept of a music score is often neglected by the novice independent film maker, until the post-production phase of a film project -- when the film editor suddenly has the thought: "Hey, some music would go nice here." (Not to suggest that this has ever happened to you, dear reader, but you would be surprised at how often this occurs.)
Such short-sightedness ensures a frantic, last minute search for a music composer in the final weeks of post-production, and nearly guarantees an inferior quality film score. Fortunately, the professional FMC is competent to work with tight schedules.
Hiring the FMC prior to production is necessary, simply because music as an afterthought will detract from, rather than enhance, the overall effectiveness of your final film cut. No amount of marketing prowess will compensate for a weak music soundtrack in an otherwise saleable Indie film. This point alone is good reason to think seriously about your film's music sound track early, and often.
Once again, the professional FMC can save the day with world-class soundtracks for those 'last-minute' decisions.
The D/P team should have a multitude of composers, directors, and musicians in mind during the casting and hiring process. They need to hire a Music Director or FMC who has the wealth of every conceivable source of music suitable for the project, composed, commonlaw, or contracted. Normally, the hiring choice comes down to a composer or music director that the D/P team has worked with successfully during a previous project.
Note: If this is your first production, you should consider contracting first-time music for hire. The film scoring field is saturated to bursting with talented young composers who are just looking for exposure. The adage "caveat emptor" applies here, as well; if little thought has been given to the music theme prior to post-production, you will get what you pay for. Also, the novice Indie film score composer will not deliver the quality of The London Symphony Orchestra, with John Williams directing. As Tracey Larvenz, Senior sound designer at
Melodious Thunk, has said, "Good luck getting an orchestra to play for credit only, and a copy for their reel."
Although the veteran FMC will become involved in many aspects of the production and pre-post-production phases of your film project, it is not until the post-production phase -- after the signing of the Composer Agreement contracts -- that the FMC will be compensated for continued participation in your film project.
The D/P team and music director should provide the FMC with ample information early, and maintain frequent personal, phone, and email contact, and invite the FMC to important shoots. With enough involvment in your film, the composer will be ready when the final edit is finished, just weeks before the scheduled first public screening.
Back to TOP
Back to BILLYHALEMUSIC.COM
Let the Music Begin!
Dear Indie Film Maker,
Thank you for your interest in Billy Hale Music.
We have viewed your brief film synopsis. If you are reading this, we are seriously interested in collaborating with you on your film project. There are phases in your film production that should directly involve the film music composer. Here are some points to consider:
Commence by supplying the FMC with a more detailed synopsis -- scene moods, descriptive character list -- or at least a story board or script. This will give the FMC several months "heads-up", while you shoot and edit your film. The detailed character list will aid the FMC in roughing out a unique 'liet-motif' for each major character in your film.
The Final Edit:
(often called the Fine-Cut)
The final edit is most important part of the post-production phase of any film project. The final edit must have dialogue, sound effects, and source music locked-in before the FMC can begin working, or any agreements are signed. Fine cuts submitted to Billy Hale Music should be in the following format:
- .AVI or .MOV format on DATA DVDs (NOT DVD Movie format!)
- Optimum 11 to 15 minute segments cut between cues,
with no frame overlap between segments.
- A Time Code -- in the form HH:MM:SS:FF -- to match the spotting notes.
Example: A WMV clip with time code
- Locked film, dialogue, and sound FX.
- Please isolate scratch music and click tracks used during editing on a separate audio track (see "Other Points to Consider", below).
- Include Spot Notes to match film segments, time and frame.
Spot Notes can be .TXT or .DOC format. Cues times can be +/- a few seconds, in which case the exact frame will be at the discretion of Billy Hale Music.