Music is extremely important to independent films.
If you read my article about capturing good sound (Check it out here) you’ll know that one of the worst sins in film making is having awful audio. I wanted to touch on that subject a little deeper with something that I find is often overlooked in independent films: music.
Films have been telling stories with music since the first sounds were ever played. They layer complexity, build atmosphere, create moods, make us sad or depressed, thrilled and excited, and queue us on how we are supposed to react to a particular scene. Go back to some of your most emotionally charged films (or series) and watch them without the sound. I bet you wont have the same emotional reaction as you did before.
Viewers react to the raw, visceral emotions of music in films in a highly thought out and surgical pattern. If you think about it, those moments where you were filled with joy and excitement when the hero is about to do something epic, your ears are building you up for something your eyes are craving. Every minute of a well crafted music soundtrack is designed to take you on a separate journey through the film with a different sensation.
Check out any of the great soundtracks that have been released. Take The Lord of the Rings for example. If you listen to the soundtrack on its own (after you’ve watched the films), you’ll discover that the music takes you on the same journey as Frodo and Sam. It brings you to the top of Barad-dûr to the deepest pits of Moria and queues you for both the dread and elation of the epic story by queuing your emotions and letting your brain do the rest.
So, how does this apply to independent films? Obviously we can’t really hire Howard Shore to come in and compose our films for us when we can barely afford the subway ticket to feed our minuscule crew, but we can find amazing talent out there who will work with us to get a score done.
You can do it yourself too.
Using some basic film making tools like Adobe Premiere, you can compile an entire film if you have the music available. But where do you get the music? Well, you can look to something like Soundstripe for one. They have a huge variety of music available on an unlimited license for only $10 a month. With their library, you can build your own film soundtrack and tell a compelling story from start to finish. They’re affordable, they have new music added to their libraries every week and they’re always on the look out for great sounds.
However, if you want something more custom that fits your story exactly as you dream, you’ll need to find a composer.
In the independent horror/suspense film world, there’s few other people I’d recommend to score your film than Rocky Gray. Rocky can lay sounds into your film and raise the production value of your project in ways that most low-budget indie films can only dream of. His experience in the professional music industry gives him a unique point of view on auditory storytelling that completely embodies the film he’s working on and brings a level of depth and complexity with every note.
Remember that music in film is an important part of storytelling that can make or break your production. Like bad sound, an awful soundtrack can destroy years of hard work in script writing and visuals in minutes and turn potential fans into +2 Flaming Trolls in heartbeats.