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Hollywood Confessional Podcast: Film Score Ghostwriting

Hollywood Confessional is a podcast with anonymous film industry workers telling their stories about terrible treatment and bad behavior—my kinda thing! (The exposing, not the bad behavior.)

Their newest installment features, in its second half, a composer talking about “The Machine”: the set-up of largely unheralded, underpaid and overworked assistants who do the lion’s share of the scoring work for numerous projects under the auspices of big-name composers. Not to mention, they also do everything (over 20-hour workdays) from take their bosses to the dentist and procure their fresh coconut water.

I don’t know who this is—but I believe her. Modern technology and practices have enabled a handful of composers to rake in tons of money while supervising teams of assistants and ghostwriters—and pretty much everybody within the business knows and accepts this. (Here’s a recent Vanity Fair piece.) It’s especially widespread in television.

And this is, aesthetically, why so much film and TV music today is utterly forgettable: it’s just futzed around in the computer, a la sound design, by anonymous interns.

Also, you have ludicrous situations like the head composers having to be briefed by their assistants, who actually did the work, in order to explain what they “wrote” to journalists!


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One of the reasons that explains my lack of interest for today's film or tv scoring...for our generation, developping a passion for film music based on the esthetic output of today seems odd, after having been musically "educated" by Korngold, Waxman, Tiomkin, Rozsa, Herrmann, North, Bernstein, Rosenman, Goldsmith, Williams, up the 80s generation like Elfman, Newman, Horner, Newton Howard, Goldenthal, Shore, etc, etc, ... musical éducation and practice in classical, jazz, popular, is not needed with tools that are made to dress movies up with the same bank of data, samples, pre-recorded generic sound design, I mean, what is the interest ?

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