Music Supervisors for 'A Star Is Born,' 'Black Panther' and 'Roma' Discuss Challenges of Creating Their Soundtracks

Clay Enos/Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc
Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper in 'A Star Is Born'

THR's editorial director Matthew Belloni moderated the panel at A2IM SynchUp.

Kendrick Lamar was originally expected to contribute just one song to the Black Panther soundtrack, but the rapper ended up producing the entire album.

"We had one meeting with Kendrick and we knew in that meeting that he understood what we were trying to do," said Dave Jordan, the music supervisor for the film. "He and [director] Ryan Coogler were having a completely different connection than you normally get in those kinds of meetings. They understood each other on a different level."

Jordan joined Lynn Fainchtein, music supervisor for Roma, and Julianne Jordan and Julia Michels, music supervisors for A Star Is Born, for a panel — moderated by The Hollywood Reporter's Matthew Belloni — about music in award-nominated films, presented by The Hollywood Reporter.

The poolside panel took place Thursday morning at the American Association of Independent Music (A2IM) SynchUp event at the Annenberg Community Beach House in Santa Monica.

The panelists began by discussing how they set the atmosphere for their films through the soundtracks. For Alfonso Cuarón's Roma, which takes place in Mexico City during 1970 and 1971, Fainchtein spent a year and a half researching the songs that played over the radio during that time period.

"There was a magazine called Notitas Musicales, and Notitas Musicales used to release a weekly magazine of what was airing with the schedule for the TV and for the radio," Fainchtein said. "So the show that is airing on the TV when the family is together, it's the same show that was airing at 8 p.m. on that channel, and we got the images."

Michels said that the first order of business for assembling the music for A Star Is Born was determining the sound of Bradley Cooper's character, Jackson Maine.

"It's the fourth incarnation of A Star Is Born ... [his sound] had to be contemporary, but it still had to be like an aging rock star that could possibly have a hit today," she said.

Later in the morning, the panelists spoke about some of the challenges of negotiating with artists and being able to afford to use their tracks. Dave Jordan said he has lost relationships with filmmakers over songs that have been pitched to him but were ultimately withdrawn because the music rights couldn't be cleared.

"The other thing that we've run into is sometimes artists are just precious, and I've been in experiences with Julianne and by myself where we've had directors write letters to the artists and they still say no," Michels said.

Of the songs that are the hardest to clear, Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven" is the most impossible, Jordan said. He added that other difficult artists to clear include Kanye West, Jay-Z and Beyonce.

The panel ended by fielding questions from the audience, which comprised representatives from indie record labels and industry members. Throughout the day, A2IM SynchUp hosted other panels for indie and Latin music as well as indoor workshops.