1) ANGIE, YOU ARE AN ESTABLISHED MUSIC EDITOR WITH OVER 45 FEATURE FILM CREDITS INCLUDING ‘SEVEN’ AND ‘PITCH PERFECT’. CAN YOU DESCRIBE SOME OF YOUR RESPONSIBILITIES WHILE BEING INVOLVED IN SUCH DIVERSE JOBS?
First of all I‘m honoured to be contributing to 5 Questions. I’ve learned so much from reading many of the interviews.
I’ll take the opportunity, using question #1, to talk about what a music editor does.
Like everything else, music editing has changed with technology. Some things are easier (I never worked with film) and some more difficult (expectations, shorter schedules). That being said, I’ve had the opportunity to work on films from the assembly stage until final delivery, some just the temp score, some only working on songs, some just the tail end (perhaps replacing a score), some being an extra pair of hands. In my opinion, the type of film and filmmakers can dictate what role we play therefore what “we do”. On something like Seven, it was VERY early in my career and I was working on songs/source only. Back then I believe I even did “timing notes” for the composer, Howard Shore. A job I don’t wish on anyone, where you map out the film practically frame by frame. And on the other end of the spectrum, something like Pitch Perfect, I was deeply involved in every tiny detail, every note, every toe tap, finger snap, hand clap and of course every sound that came out of each actor’s mouth. PP was truly one of my faves. Challenging but extremely creative. Though a big portion was thought out and recorded before shooting, much of it was shaped and created and finessed during post. As with a film called Take The Lead back in 2005, on PP I also got to participate in the mash ups (layering songs on top of each other). For obvious reasons, musicals are more involved. Those are my favourite. A recent one, I SAW THE LIGHT, the story of Hank Williams, we even got down to microphones, recording techniques, musical foley (amp noise, string noise, instrument tuning, noodling between songs, etc…). We had a whole session dedicated to this AND a week of music pre-dubs where we experimented with concert hall sounds in the 50s. I could literally talk about the different things we do from show to show for hours…So if anyone has any specific questions, please let me know and I’d be happy to answer!
2) YOU ACTUALLY WORKED AS A STAFF SONGWRITER BEFORE BECOMING A MUSIC EDITOR. HOW DID THE CAREER CHANGE COME ABOUT?
I’m grateful to have had a staff songwriting gig for years as it helped my appreciation for great songs and music in general. Simply I couldn’t make a living at it sad to say. So on the weekend of my 30th birthday I was given the opportunity to assist a music editor—-I said a big loud YES and never looked back. All the years before, playing bass, writing, recording, and producing, helped me fall comfortably into the role as a music editor. You never know how your past experiences will come in handy!
3) THERE IS A DEBATE GOING ON ABOUT THE IMPACT OF TEMP SCORES? HAVE WE REACHED THE POINT WHERE WE ARE JUST RECYCLING MUSIC OVER AND OVER?
I used to think that answer was yes. But I’ve since changed my mind. It feels to me like in the last 10 years the variety of films has increased. Sure there will always be super hero films and romantic comedies and sci-fi and thrillers…but I believe many of the new composers are shaking things up a bit musically. More risks are being taken. The traditional score has taken a back seat to cooler sounds and instruments and arrangements and spotting. As I write this I think we were on the verge of one big SUPER SCORE and we caught it in the nick of time. Hopefully some creative music editors played a role in shaking that up too.
4) WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO A COMPOSER WHO GETS TO SCORE HER/HIS FIRST MAJOR STUDIO FEATURE FILM? WHAT ARE SOME COMMON PITFALLS?
I want to answer this as honestly as possible. In my opinion, personality is everything. Look, you wouldn’t be offered a major studio film if you weren’t incredibly talented. So being gracious, easy-to-work-with, flexible, fun, willing, ego-less, and did I say flexible is a huge part of getting the gig AND keeping the gig these days. No one wants to work with a stubborn ass. Actors do multiple takes. Writers do multiple drafts. Editors have multiple versions. Composers should expect the same. Rarely is there a 1m1 v1. So why not have a sense of humour about it. Make it fun. Be flexible. That’s not to say don’t stick up for something you believe in…but perhaps do it with a smile, a genuine smile.
5) THEY SAY THAT AT SPOTTING SESSIONS, A MUSIC EDITOR IS BOTH A MUSIC ADVOCATE AND A SECRETARY! WHAT ARE SOME CRITICAL QUESTIONS YOU ASK DURING A SPOTTING SESSION?
Who doesn’t love a great spotting session. This can be a truly creative part of the process. I love including the sound editors as well if it’s appropriate.
Music and sound can and should work together to compliment each other. It’s good to know who’s doing what where. Our role can be as big or as small as we make it. Again, it depends on the film, the crew, the mx editor. Nowadays, this (spotting session) doesn’t always happen first. For example, on the final ’50 Shades’ film of the trilogy, I started the temp on week 3 of the editor’s assembly/director’s cut. I spotted and temped as I was given reels. My relationship with the film, the characters, the tone and of course the director, allowed me to dive in way before the “official” spotting session was even on the calendar. I kept in mind everyone involved. While temping I considered Danny Elfman, the composer, Bill Abbott, the brilliant co-music editor, the music super, Dana Sano, the studio/soundtrack, Universal. I was an advocate for “the entire film”. And when it actually came time for the spotting session, the whole room chimed in on everything from A to Z. All of us keeping the “big picture” in mind. So all that to say, I think the spotting session is much more than advocating or note taking…