It takes a lot more than talent to create musical scores for movies. It also requires creativity, discipline, and the ability to take someone else's vision and breathe life into it. I never realized how incredibly complicated it is to create these movie musical masterpieces until my interview with Scott.
Here... read it for yourselves, my horrific horde, and tell me if I am not correct about its complexity:
- Lili's Lair: I don't know about everyone else, but I have NO idea what the process is for writing a score. Could you enlighten us on that please, Scott?
Scott Benzie: When writing music to film, it is vitally important that the music is perfectly in sync with the visuals. This serves two purposes 1. Any musical idea, a theme, for example that follows a character or situation needs to be heard at a specific moment, if the music has been written and the edit changes, then the theme, will not be in the correct spot, therefore the music will need to be re-written. This makes the whole process longer and this incorporates no.2 If the picture edit is constantly changing, this has a knock on effect with music, the whole process takes longer and can be very stressful for all involved.
To actually write the score I will look through the film several times and then meet with the director and discuss where he wants music to be, where I think music should be and any thoughts what the music needs to do, The director might say ‘I want something really dramatic and big here, this will help guide me through the film with the directors vision.
I will take notes during the spotting session and use this as the basis in writing.
The actual writing normally begins trying to find the style of the film, and this normally means developing a theme, for a character or situation that I can use again and again and this helps give something familiar that the audiance can releate to and that can help with developing the story.
When I think I have something that is working whether it’s just a theme or a finished piece of music, I will send it over to the director and we will discuss this, and If he’s happy with the direction I continue writing, there may be changes, if it’s not right, I develop it further from any thoughts that the director may have and I work on the piece of music until the director is happy with it.
After this I go and start writing in no particular order, and I will send the music over once I’m happy with them for approval.
In writing music to film one of the biggest issues is time; I will normally have a strict deadline to complete everything, once the music is completed it needs to go to the final mix prior to release. It is of paramount importance that the music is delivered on time.
The writing consists of me sitting on my own watching the film, timing the sections and making ‘hit points’ this can be a line of dialogue or a piece of action, anything where the music is going to change, or if a theme is going to be heard. From these points I start to fill in the themes and work the music to the scene, trying to make the music fit the scene, almost as if it’s always been there, changing moods if it needs to and incorporating any ideas or thoughts that the director wanted.
Lili's Lair: What is your favourite type of project and/or movie to score?
Scott Benzie:I really like scoring films that need the music to help convey a sense of scale, large panoramic scenes, or writing music for a really gothic horror film, post apocalypse, or wild fantasy film would be really good fun.
Lili's Lair: Did you have any professional training as a musician, and if so, were you required to take additional training on writing scores?
Scott Benzie:I was at University studying Composition and started teaching myself about orchestration (how to write for orchestra) by attending orchestral rehearsal sessions and getting them to play snippets of music of mine, this was great to see and hear what was working in a real life experience. Whilst studying I met with directors and scored their films. I feel a hands on approach was a much better way, for me to learn.
Lili's Lair: Who are your musical influences?
Scott Benzie: So many…. John Williams, Bernard Herrmann, James Horner, Jerry Goldsmith, Danny Elfman, James Newton Howard.. There is a big list… you can add almost any composer here….
Scott Benzie: I have lately been listening to a much more diverse range of music and I have realised that I quite like a lot more than I had previously thought. At this moment in time, I don’t think I would want to listen to one type of music or one band.Lili's Lair: Is there anything or anyone that inspires you to create the incredible music you make?
Scott Benzie: The music that I write has to relate to the film and the situations and moods within, therefore my only concern is to work on the music for the film and use the film and the directors vision to give me inspiration. (nd thanks for the wonderful compliment)
I use the imagery to help shape the music as well as dialogue to help punctuation and action to helps me give the music life.
Lili's Lair: What advice can you give to a musician who would like to break into the film business writing scores?
Scott Benzie: … it’s very difficult trying to get any break and it’s so competitive, just keeping writing and trying to get your music heard, I’m still trying… it is difficult but the rewards are great and there are some amazing people along the way.Lili's Lair: What projects are you currently working on?
Scott Benzie: I have several projects that I am working on ‘Crucifixion Island’ a psychological horror film, ‘The grave digger’, a hammeresque horror film. I also am scoring a Cypriot/UK feature later in the year.
Scott Benzie: I want to write music for film!
Have a listen to some of the great music Scott has created:
Room 36 - Woods Escapes
(Thank you Room 36 the movie for allowing us to post this MP3. BTW: Room 36 is being released in the UK 26 October 2009. It is a double disc with the film and the soundtrack.)
For more info about Mark Macready and the Archangel Murders, visit archangelmurders.com.