Eleanor McSherry takes note of Score at the Kerry Film Festival, in which Hollywood’s top composers take viewers inside the musical challenges and creative secrecy of the world’s most beloved and mysterious music genre.


St. Mary’s Church, tucked in up the road, on the corner near the Killarney Cinema, provided a very appropriate place to host the screening of the Irish premiere of the documentary Score, written and directed by Matt Schrader, who “brings Hollywood’s premier composers together to give viewers a privileged look inside the musical challenges and creative secrecy of the world’s most widely known music genre: the film score.”

St. Mary’s church has a beautiful gothic interior and features added to a cool peaceful ambience, which made it the perfect location to screen this particular film. There was a very large crowd in attendance and seating was at a premium. What was particularly heartening was that the audience was predominantly young people.  What was even more fantastic about the amount of people at the screening was that we were expecting storm Brian in the early hours of the next day and were already feeling its effects with lashing rain and strong winds.

The documentary was introduced by Maeve McGrath, Kerry Film Festival’s hardworking Artistic Director, who expressed her joy at getting the film and to being able to show it in such a great location.  She hoped we enjoyed it and off she went.

We have all left a film with some sort of emotion, be it happy, sad or mad. We have also all come out humming the theme tune of our favourite films, like Indiana Jones, Star Wars, to name the most iconic.  But how does the composer make that happen? How are the decisions made about what music goes where and who makes those decisions?  This documentary gives a small insight into that process?

Score is a very enjoyable and educational film. It is a must for anyone who wants to understand the importance of music and the music score to filmmaking.  It features the whose who of music film composers, like: Hans Zimmer, Quincy Jones, Trent Reznor, James Cameron, Randy Newman, Tom Holkenborg/junkie Xl, Howard Shore, Mark Mothersbaugh, Rachel Portman, Steve Jablonsky, Brian Tyler, Bear Mccreary, John Debney, John Powell, Mychael Danna and Garry Marshall, to name but a few.  The one thing I did note, however, is that there were very few female composers and I’m not sure why.  Maybe this is something that should be explored. For more names of composers and their profiles check here.

This documentary contains a mix of film music, interviews with prominent film music composers intertwined with the historical journey/evolution of the film music score. It was fascinating to watch and thought-provoking, as a filmmaker. It gave insight into the great lengths that the composer will go to, to get that perfect sound, to evoke the right emotion from the audience, from isolation chambers to going out to the middle of the desert to listen to the wind. As an audience we don’t realise how vitally important it is but that is as it should be. The audience should not be aware that they are being manipulated.  The music should wash over you without a thought about it.  As filmmakers, however, we should be more aware of its significance to our films and give it due respect.

The documentary highlighted the strength and importance of the collaboration between the director and the composer.  It is vital that this happens in order to get what’s in the directors mind onto the screen. He or she might not have the technical knowledge of music to articulate exactly what they want but a good composer will interpret the director’s needs and produce something, at the very least, close to what they want.

The music supports the scene, compliments the action and evokes emotion. Hans Zimmer stated, in the documentary, that the audience will ‘get drawn into the film through the music’.  The composer watches the film with the director while taking notes, watches it on their own then produces the music, then watches it again with the director.  It is a highly skilled, time-consuming and complicated process but when it works, we the audience, don’t even see it, but we do feel it.

This film is a must for any filmmaker or anyone who is thinking of becoming a film music composer. It was not only compelling but highly entertaining.  You could not hear a pin drop while the film was on and this is no mean feat in a room full, of predominantly, teenagers. I felt buzzed when I came out from it and had a new respect for the art. The audience were also very impressed and I overheard many conversations about it after the screening, which is impressive. Well done to Maeve McGrath and her team for getting this one.

Score screened on Friday, 20th October 2017 at Cinema Killarney as part of the Kerry Film Festival (19 – 22 October 2017)

Further details:   https://www.score-movie.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/scoremovie

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ScoreMovie/

Film trailer: https://youtu.be/9K6RwDM8VFE


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