Presenting Music for the Director or Producer

   By Sarah C   Categories: Career AdviceGeneralMixing Techniques

Presenting musical ideas and edits to the director or producer involves striking a delicate balance: too few options, and they may get the impression you are having difficulty coming up with ideas; too many, and they may think you’re “shooting in the dark”—either way, they may feel that you lack confidence in your work, and perhaps that you’re failing to understand what the film demands, musically speaking.


Picture from Flickr user Lucky Star Photo / Soundville Studios

So how many ideas are too few, and how many are too many? It’s not possible to give a definitive answer, but some of the questions to think about include:

● How many pieces of music has the film editor already cut in successfully?

● Has any thematic musical material already been chosen, perhaps by the director or editor?

● Have you played any pieces for the director or producer? If so, did they like the direction you were taking?

● How much interest does the director or producer have in the music? How much time do they have to spend on it?

● How many different scenes do you need to present at any one time?

● Has the director or producer asked to see any specific scenes (even though you may have much more to show)?

On a practical note, the director may have you send the film editor your cuts and ideas, and listen to them with the film editor rather than with you in your cutting room or studio. This can simply be a function of your location—you may be working in Los Angeles while the film is being edited in New York. (Ideally, though, the music editor should be in or near the same suite of offices or cutting rooms as the film editor, allowing them to develop the temp music quickly and effectively.)

If auditioning your music with the director present, however, you will be faced with the following dilemma: Do you take the time to fix and edit while he or she is there, or do you do it later and wait to present the fix? You might ask the director if they have time to listen to a quick fix, but keep in mind that you must be able to do this perfectly and quickly, on the spot.

Playing your music on speakers is the preferred option—for many editors headphones are reserved only for the dub stage. However, if you are making corrections to the edit while someone else is in the room, headphones can be desirable, as the scrubbing and repetition of sections of music can be very annoying to a listener.

Excerpt from Music Editing for Film and Television by Steven Saltzman © 2014 Taylor & Francis Group. All Rights Reserved.

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About the Author

Steven Saltzman, MPSE is a music editor and composer based in Los Angeles, CA. He received his Bachelors of Music in composition and film scoring from Berklee College of Music and is a certified Avid Pro Tools instructor. He has been editing music for film and television for the past eighteen years. In addition, Steven has lectured nationally, and he has created and taught numerous music editing courses. A recipient of a Golden Reel Award for music editing, Saltzman is also a member of the Motion Picture Editors Guild, the Society of Composers and Lyricists, and he sits on the board of the Motion Picture Sound Editors Guild.



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