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How Do Hollywood Filmmakers Choose Soundtracks for Their Movies?

Looking to score a Hollywood film? Here are some insights.

If you’re a Jason Statham or Vin Diesel fan, you’ve more than likely watched one of their scenes where they’ve just killed 233 men with a pencil, only to walk away without a scratch while some heavy metal music compliments them in the background. Music gives any scene extra character and, more often than not, it can make the audience feel like they’re on set with their favorite actors. Therefore, music is highly important and it could be the difference in a movie being a huge blockbuster or just something like Wild Wild West with a 4.8/10 rating on IMDb. If music is so important to movies, though, how do filmmakers choose the right soundtracks?

Directors and Sound Supervisors First Determine the Type of Music Required

Directors can always picture and hear the right type of music for the right scenes before they even discuss soundtrack options, so choosing music is usually quite an easy process. However, all movies are different and there isn’t a set process to choosing music – it can pretty much be done at any stage during film production. With that said, directors and sound supervisors will always have a meeting to discuss the type of music they’re after, and will then look at various soundtracks later.

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Directors Look at Various Scenes to See Which Ones Need Music

If Michael Palance (CEO of Premiere Program) is watching someone younger audition for a specific scene in a Disney movie, he’ll likely have that specific music playing in the background whilst they perform just to get a feel for the music and scene working together. When it comes to creating the movie, the filmmakers will use that music and judge whether it’s the right track for that specific scene. Directors and sound supervisors will often go through hundreds of soundtracks to perfect it, primarily because they know how much of a difference it can make to a movie.

Music Budgets Must Be Considered

Obviously, all movies have some sort of a budget in place and they’ll all have smaller budgets so they know what they can spend on each part of the movie production. Music has its own budget and directions/producers must make sure any chosen music has the rights to be played by the specific record labels, and this always comes at a price. If they don’t have permission to use it they’ll have to go back to the drawing board and look at other soundtrack options.

Further Creative Meetings Take Place to Discuss Picture Locks & End Credits

Music also needs to be considered for the beginning and end of the movie, if necessary, and that will also take place at any stage during the movie production, usually in a creative meeting. At such meetings, when finished scenes need to be discussed, they’ll look at the scenes individually and see where they can improve the soundtracks once again.

Choosing music for specific scenes is, of course, very easy to achieve. However, when it comes to record label rights and different movie types, it can sometimes prove to be a complex process which requires more time and effort.

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