Sound of music in indie film, TV


A group of directors and music supervisors addressed the benefits and challenges of working in an independent environment, the state of the soundtrack album and the role that music plays in indie films during a panel discussion on "The Power of Indies" at The Hollywood Reporter/Billboard Film & TV Music Conference.

Angela Robinson, director of such films as "D.E.B.S." and "Herbie: Fully Loaded," noted the differences between working on indie films versus big-budgeted features during the session, held Wednesday at the Beverly Hilton.

While Robinson sometimes clashed with the Walt Disney Co. executives over their interest in using the company's own talent on the "Herbie" soundtrack, overall "they were very shockingly willing to let me shape the movie and the sounds to it," she said.

P.J. Bloom, music supervisor at Neophonic, pointed out that soundtracks are becoming more of a marketing tool, likening them to "the toy in the Happy Meal."

"Before, they were an artistic companion to the film, if you wanted to relive the experience you had watching the film. ... Now, they're basically just a marketing component -- an opportunity for the film studio or network to get more people to watch or pay attention, to get sponsors to buy commercial time or to get your butts in a movie theater seat," he said.

Director Allison Anders, whose credits include "Grace of My Heart" and "Things Behind the Sun," noted that the ideal soundtrack album would include most of the music from a film, though that is "always tricky." Also during the session, moderated by The Hollywood Reporter music editor Chris Morris, Anders said she often is surprised by the licensing fees associated with certain songs.

"There is often not a logic to it," she said. "Sometimes I'll think it costs nothing because it's a record nobody has ever heard, but it will be vastly overpriced, and something else can come in cheaply" that she expects to be pricey.

Howard Paar, music supervisor at Emoto Music, said that television has become a good place for independent artists to get their work noticed, especially during the past couple of years.

"Those kinds of (major-label) companies are paying much more attention to (television)," he said. "The fast turnaround of TV appeals to me," as opposed to waiting a lengthy amount of time to hear one's music in a film, he said.