A ‘Film Music Documentary’ with Gravitas

bear mccready plays his hurdy-gurdy

Composer Bear McCreary appears with his hurdy-gurdy in Score: A Film Music Documentary, coming to theaters in May. (Photo: Courtesy Epicleff Media)

Film music is ready for its close-up, thanks to Matt Schrader and Gravitas Ventures, which has acquired North American rights to Score: A Film Music Documentary. Schrader, a three-time Emmy-winning, writer, editor and news producer, directed this labor of love. Sixteen months, two crowdfunding campaigns and 50 interviews later, Gravitas has swooped in to give the project a theatrical release May 29.

Schrader, a graduate of the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts whose work has heretofore focused on consumer issues —  resulting in “changed lives, laws and in millions of dollars returned to consumers and communities” —  spent time in the news departments of CBS and NBC affiliates in California.

For this, his first feature-length documentary, he chased down interviews over 16 months, during which time he raised funds using Kickstarter and Indiegogo pages. His stated goal, to do something that “had never been done”: a definitive look at film score composing.

“We all react so strongly to film music,” Schrader says, noting “a mystery there I personally wanted to explore.” He developed an outline, and the lure of the project — a combination of his personal interest, plus the fact that it was a story as yet untold — prompted him to exit his job as a TV news producer in September 2014. Three days later, he was doing his initial interviews for Score.

Among those contributing their insight are Alexandre Desplat, Danny Elfman, Jerry Goldsmith, Quincy Jones, Randy Newman, Rachel Portman, Trent Reznor, Howard Shore, John Williams and Hans Zimmer. Schrader also includes archival footage of greats Bernard Hermann,  Elmer Bernstein, Alfred Newman and, a more recently doused light, James Horner.

Directors James Cameron and Garry Marshall also shared their views, along with a gallery of experts and agents. Thoroughness is apparently a Schrader forte. In addition to creative avenues, the inquisitive storyteller travels down paths both practical (universal dislike of temp scores) to business (keeping the dispora of film composition from killing off the industry at home in Hollywood).

“Some of the world’s greatest living composers entrusted us to tell their story,” says producer Jonathan Willbanks, who attended USC with Schrader. “That’s a lot of pressure, but the incredible support we received allowed us to make the film that fans and the subject itself deserve. We’re very proud of Score, and can’t wait to share its story of film music with the world.”

Willbanks said the project exceeded its funding goals, with more than 1,600 backers from 40 countries pitching in. “Half of our support came from international investors, which we found very gratifying, that level of global interest.” Stateside enthusiasm is strong, too. The film won the Audience Choice Award at the 2016 Tacoma Film Festival and received a glowing review from The Hollywood Reporter.

“When you think about it, the concept is silly – it is music played alongside a completely made up story,” Schrader told yeoman scribe Marc Ciafardini in an indepth interview about the project (that includes such scoops as: it’s John Debney’s  head on the poster!) “It doesn’t impact us at all really except for the two hours that we’re watching something. So the fact it can have  an impact on us is really interesting. I think it’s part of the reason we were so inspired to put this together. We’re hoping to break that down a little bit for the fans of film scores out there…as well as ourselves.”

Among the film’s producers is Robert Kraft, the venerable longtime head of music for Twentieth Century Fox (now emeritus), who now heads Kraftbox Entertainment.

Score also has its own composer, Ryan Taubert, who has his work cut out for him, holding  his own against the biggest legends in the field. Willbanks doesn’t know how many minutes of Taubert’s work will end up in the finished film, but says viewers can look forward to a “big moment” at the end. “He contributed a very emotional flourish as we bring the story to a close. It was definitely a challenge to deliver the end note, but Ryan was brilliant, and he deserves a shout-out too.”

Learn more about Schrader’s filmmaking at Epicleff Media.

Hans Zimmer gets lit for Score, a behind-the-scenes look at movie music magic. (Photo: Courtesy of Epicleff Media)

Hans Zimmer gets lit for Score, a behind-the-scenes look at movie music magic. (Photo: Courtesy of Epicleff Media)


2 Responses to "A ‘Film Music Documentary’ with Gravitas"

  1. Pingback: Ludwig Scores NFL Touchdown | MaxTheTrax

  2. gideon  May 5, 2017 at 9:29 pm

    Is this film being showed in montreal, or will it in the future?

    How can I get tickets?



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