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“The Minions Do the Actual Writing”: The Ugly Truth of How Movie Scores Are Made

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Creating music in 21st-century Hollywood, as a composer for an Emmy-winning cable series put it, “feels like an underground, a real pimp situation.” He talked about long hours, low pay, and working under a martinet “lead composer”—his boss—who delegated the actual work of writing and recording. “One time he had a meltdown because the director was coming to hear what he had come up with and he didn’t have anything to play him,” the composer went on, “because my computer had all the music on it and it was on the fritz!” He laughed—c’est la guerre. But the irritation and dismay were palpable. Another Hollywood composer summed up the widespread feeling among the men and women who do the day-to-day work of bending melody, harmony, and rhythm to match pictures on a movie or television screen: “There’s no contract, there’s no union. You’re completely beholden to working with someone who’s completely unethical or not.”

“The ultimate prerequisite of a composer’s life,” said Henry Mancini, “is being able to make a living doing what you truly love to do: create music.” Mancini, who scored such films as Breakfast at Tiffany’s, The Pink Panther, and Victor/Victoria, winning four Oscars along the way, belongs to an all-time pantheon of film composers that includes Bernard Herrmann, John Williams, and, more recently, Hans Zimmer. We don’t talk about film composers much, but their work is essential to the cinematic experience. Try to imagine Psycho without Herrmann’s stabbing violins or Inception without Zimmer’s gut-rattling BRAAAM. As the director James Cameron once put it, “The score is the heart and soul of a film.”

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Illustration by Jorge Arévalo.

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Click the link below for the article:

https://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2022/02/the-ugly-truth-of-how-movie-scores-are-made?utm_source=pocket_discover

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