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SXSW 2013 Music - Songwriting for the Screen


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Last year the fact that only two songs were nominated for an Academy Award was hot button discussion topic throughout the music community. What determines a true “original” song? What should? From montages to key scenes, main titles to end titles, original songs are written for film and television regularly, both by skilled songwriters and popular artists. The ability to capture the essence of a film (or moment) without telling too much, however, is a delicate art, making writing to picture one of the trickiest tasks for any musician. How do musicians and music supervisors approach this process today, and how you can create a track that’s just right?

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SXSW 2013 Music - Songwriting for the Screen

  1. 1. Songwriting for the Screen Moderator Amanda Krieg
  2. 2. Panelists● Wende Crowley - VP Film & TV Music at Sony/ATV and Music Supervisor (Friends With Benefits, Easy A)● Chris Mollere - Music Supervisor, Fusion Music Supervision (Pretty Little Liars, The Vampire Diaries)● Josh Collum - CEO, Sorted Noise● Amy Stroup - Nashville-based singer/songwriter
  3. 3. The Marriage of Music and Image● The two are inextricably linked; music is an essential storytelling device● Score provides the foundation● Songs reflect and enhance key moments
  4. 4. Essential Original Songs● Often times original songs are over the end credits● Paired with the right scene a song can become as memorable (or more memorable) as the story told● "I Dont Wanna Miss A Thing" - Aerosmith (Armageddon)● "Youve Got A Friend In Me" - Randy Newman (Toy Story)● "Iris" - Goo Goo Dolls (City of Angels)● "Eye of the Tiger" - Survivor (Rocky III)
  5. 5. Not every song is "licensable""Songs are a part of the storytelling but cant get in the way ofthe actors and actresses. A song needs to enhance what isalready being communicated." - Amy Stroup● What makes a song suited for use film and television?● What can artists/songwriters expect from the songwriting process?● What are the challenges in writing a song for a particular project?● What tools, resources or advice is essential for success?
  6. 6. What are some pitfalls songwritersoften fall into?"Its easy to try and copy the sound of references orplaceholders, but if you are being asked to write from yourvoice…write and perform from your voice. Its hard to do,but dont miss out on telling the truth." - Amy Stroup"When its a license situation, its a magical moment whenone song out of 100 fits into a scene perfectly. Its hard tocapture that magic in a genuine way when youre creatingspecifically for a scene." - Josh Collum
  7. 7. What is essential advice for asongwriter?● Do your research● Pick up the phone● Ask the right questions● Read"For the song Revenge that I wrote with IZLER I did just that.The show is based on the classic novel Count of Monte Cristo…for that assignment I read excerpts from the original classic andwatched the original film in order to pick up on the broad themesand broad emotions that the producers of the show were drawingfrom. The inspiration gave me ideas for not just one, but threesongs that all have been placed on TV." - Amy Stroup
  8. 8. And more...● How often do filmmakers go into the process knowing they want an original song, versus something needing to be created during production or post production?● Are there ways for artists to practice or prepare for the opportunity to write a song to picture?● What is the biggest difference in the process of writing for film and television between today and ten years ago?● What is the most important role for someone who pitches music, or the music supervisor, in this process? What is the best way they can support their artists/songwriters?
  9. 9. The Bottom Line Experts with extensive experience in publishing, music supervision, artist development, songwriting as well as a successful artist, will reveal the behind thescenes process of writing for film and tv. They will offer cautionary tales, tips and advice for those looking to break into the field.