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Sean Penn spent a decade preparing the film adaptation of Jon Krakauer’s 1996 book “Into the Wild.” But it only took him a few hours to secure the services of Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder to write the soundtrack for the project.
The pair’s creative partnership was the subject of a keynote address Thursday on Day 1 of the Billboard/Hollywood Reporter Film & TV Music Conference at the Beverly Hilton. Vedder and Penn were joined in conversation by Michael Brook, who wrote the “Wild” score.
“The script had been structured to have songs carry some of the narrative,” Penn said. “We’d use a lot of Michael’s stuff to temp to during the shoot. I just asked (Vedder) initially for a song, (and) rather quickly he started sending things down. The most important moment in the collaboration was just sitting at his place watching the movie together. He’d send these songs down, and they’d just work perfectly.”
Brook likened the process of blending his music with Vedder’s songs to “a kind of conversation” and said he was delighted “how much experimenting there was, which is what I always like best. Some of the music I wrote just reading the book. A lot of that we threw away, but some of it actually wound up in the film. At the beginning, you’re not looking at the picture so much. You’re just thinking, ‘What is the atmosphere?’ “
For Vedder, who previously turned down persistent requests from Penn to act in one of his films, writing for “Wild” was akin to finding “the perfect wave. Sean had found the perfect wave by the time he talked to me about it. It was just a pleasure to surf this perfect wave. All I had to do was get back on the boat and sing for my supper.”
He added that working with Penn and the family of the story’s main character, Christopher McCandless, at top of mind was a welcome creative challenge.
“In our group, or the way we’re used to doing it, we have five guys and we’re all kind of the boss,” Vedder said. “This felt more like, these people I felt responsible to were the boss. I felt really comfortable in that position.”
Vedder and Penn have given only a handful of interviews about the project but joked about their true reason for appearing at the conference. “Our motivation in being here today is primarily those briefcases full of cash from Billboard,” Penn said with a laugh.
COMPLETE EVENT COVERAGE
Film music panels hear new song (Nov. 5)
‘Once’ worked forward from the music (Nov. 3)
Panels discuss future of film, TV music (Nov. 2)
Penn, Vedder get into ‘Wild’ (Nov. 2)
Wendy & Lisa have film, TV revelation (Nov. 2)
Upcoming Billboard events:
Touring ’07: The Billboard Touring Conference and Awards
November 14-15, 2007 — The Roosevelt Hotel, NYC
The 4th annual Billboard Touring Conference & Awards is the premier gathering for the concert industry. This two-day event, programmed by Billboard’s Ray Waddell, will feature informative panels, controversial discussions, invaluable networking opportunities, and an awards reception targeted to promoters, agents, managers, venues, sponsors, and production professionals. Don’t miss your chance to hear from elite industry players and learn about the latest opportunities to gain a competitive edge!
Billboard R&B Hip Hop Conference & Awards
November 28-November 30, 2007 — Renaissance Atlanta Hotel Downtown, Atlanta, GA
The Billboard R&B Hip-Hop Conference is the premiere event for the industry’s who’s who to network, share knowledge and discover new talent! The 8th Annual Conference & Awards Show will return to Atlanta, & feature savvy speakers, must-attend panels, skills-sharpening workshops, artist showcases, a stellar Awards Show line-up and more. Click here for more details!
Billboard Digital Music Live! at CES
January 9, 2008 — The Venetian, Las Vegas
This one-day event will explore how technology is affecting every aspect of the music industry, offering attendees a truly immersive digital entertainment experience.Join today’s top music managers, touring agents, record label executives,publishers and artists who will reveal their digital outlook as well as leading technology innovators who will discuss the contentious and symbiotic relationship between these two industries.
The 7th Annual Billboard Music & Money Symposium
March 6, 2008 — The St. Regis Hotel, NYC
This one-day event brings together the best minds from the music, legal, financial and Wall Street communities for an in-depth examination of the financial realities with which the music industry is contending. Don’t miss the premier event for the music industry decision-makers, entrepreneurs and companies interested in providing funding for entertainment ventures.
Billboard Mobile Entertainment Live Spring- 2008 (formerly MECCA)
March 31, 2008 — Las Vegas Convention Center, Las Vegas, Nevada
Billboard’s Mobile Entertainment Live! — the only official pre-CTIA mobile entertainment conference produced in partnership with CTIA, has a brand new name and a brand new look. But what hasn’t changed is the quality programming and speakers that have made this the must-attend entertainment event of the year, regularly drawing more than 1,000 VIPs from the mobile, entertainment, technology and digital content industries.
More event information: www.billboardevents.com
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