Yesterday, composer Alain Mayrand over at Getting the Score posted an interesting quote from Quentin Tarantino on his use of music in his films, taken from a master class given by the filmmaker in Cannes. In response to Tarantino’s comments, Mayrand brings up some interesting issues from a composer’s point of view. As a film music fan, I had a raw, primal reaction to the quote and felt the need to share my thoughts as well.
I don’t normally use original score. I don’t trust any composer to do it… The music is so important. The idea of paying a guy and showing him your movie at the end and then he comes over it; I would never give anybody that kind of responsibility…I have one of the best soundtrack collections… That’s how I write it, that’s how I design it; I go into my soundtrack collection and I start visualizing the sequences…I cut out the composers. I work with the best composers, Ennio Morricone, Lalo Schifrin, John Berry [sic]…but I don’t deal with them.
Tarantino serves as screenwriter, director, and Grand Poobah on his films, which is entirely his right as a filmmaker. But for someone who prides himself on one of the “best” soundtrack collections, he seems to have missed the boat on how original film music can serve his films.
I don’t trust any composer to do it.
Why not? Another director trusted that composer enough to compose those tracks that are helping you to visualize your scenes. I guess that means that the cinematography, editing, art direction, and acting aren’t particularly important elements of your films, since you “trust” those individuals to do their jobs.
As for showing the film to a composer at the end, how about bringing him on at the beginning? If the music is so essential, make him part of your creative process, not another violent punctuation in your bloody tale.
I work with the best composers…but I don’t deal with them.
I bet these composers are perfectly happy not to deal with you as well. The paycheck would be sweet, but who wants to compose a score that has already been spotted and timed to the ultimate temp track? Might as well cash the scratch for the reuse fees and skip having a director hovering over every note with the distinct possibility that the score will be rejected and “cut out” anyway.
Tarantino doesn’t want a score, he wants a schizo compilation of tracks that he can mold, cut, slice and dice to his satisfaction. Sure, that collection of eccentric tracks contributes to the unique, frenetic quality of his films. But instead of an original score that fits his vision, he is content to rehash someone else’s musical vision. Apparently film music is interchangeable. It doesn’t matter who or what the music was written for. It’s all grist (or gristle) for Tarantino’s mill. I question whether or not he is capable of an original cinematic, much less musical, thought.
Tarantino can do whatever he likes on his films and continue to make all the loving homages he wants. But it’s this kind of pompous attitude from a “major” (and I use that term loosely) filmmaker that contributes to the lack of respect shown to film composers today. His attitude towards film music is arrogant and snide, and I won’t support it with my hard-earned dollars.