ASCAP Members Take the Spotlight at Variety Music for Screens Summit

November 1, 2018

The whole film and TV music community came out to learn from ASCAP screen music all-stars and industry insiders at the Variety Music for Screens Summit, held on October 30 at NeueHouse in Hollywood. ASCAP was an official partner of the inaugural event.

Major players from all corners of the screen music world opined on evolving trends in synch and music supervision, publishing and branding, soundtracks, music documentaries and more. ASCAP composer and Nine Inch Nails mastermind Trent Reznor opened the Summit, diving deep into his scoring philosophy alongside Atticus Ross, his co-composer on The Social Network, Gone Girl and the upcoming Watchmen TV series. Annie Lennox discussed her original song “Requiem for a Private War,” from the upcoming biopic A Private War about the life of war correspondent Marie Colvin.

The importance of diversity – of gender and nationality, as well as musical background and composing style – was the focus of the High-Scorers – The Composer Roundtable, presented by ASCAP. The panel brought together six high-profile screen composers, including ASCAP members Marco Beltrami, Tom Holkenborg and Pinar Toprak, to discuss their recent work and the “state of the industry” of screen composing.

Beltrami explained the challenges of scoring A Quiet Place, a horror film about a family living in silence amongst a race of malicious creatures with acute hearing. “My first thought was, since they haven’t had music for a while, they have to remember what that sounds like,” Beltrami said. “So we were thinking maybe take a piano and have it be slightly out of tune, but how do you make it be out of tune and then play with an orchestra and have it not sound like crap? We just detuned all the black notes by a quarter step...that was the first thing I worked on.”

Holkenborg, responsible for the music to Mad Max: Fury Road, Deadpool and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (co-scored with Hans Zimmer), explained how his unique background has informed his scoring work. “I became an engineer and a producer before I got into making music myself,” he said.” I’ve recorded punk bands, metal bands - I was in an industrial metal band myself...and all that...is very convenient when you work on a film score right now. Especially when directors are more and more open-minded to take the standard path of what a film score needs to be, and take it completely to the left.”

Toprak described one unexpected response to her music for the video game Fortnite: “Anything I do, to my kids, is not that cool. Flash forward a year, I’m now the coolest mom on the planet, and have the respect of my nieces and nephews.” As the first female composer to score a feature for Marvel Studios (Captain Marvel), and the first this century to score a live action superhero TV series (Krypton), Toprak understands first-hand why it’s important to see more women making screen music. “The more little kids in Turkey - or other places like that - can see me do this, they can actually start believing ‘oh, that’s possible.’ And once you start seeing that it’s possible, they’ll study, they’ll put in the work. And that’s how the world changes.”

See more coverage, and watch full panel video from High Scorers - The Composer Roundtable, at Variety.com.