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Thoughts on Music for Filmmakers

written by Lydia Hurlbut

By Po Chan, Director of The Ticket and The Last 3 Minutes, and Lydia Hurlbut

Po Chan:
Plato said, “Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.” I agree with Plato wholeheartedly because music is a very important element, or I should say “nutrient,” in my life and my work. A perfect example of this is the music that I chose for The Ticket.

While I was writing the script, I was repeatedly confronted with a dilemma. How could the meaning of my story, all the theories and feelings that I wanted to express, be conveyed only in physical movement and dialogue? That was not enough. I needed more room, another dimension. It was then that I realized that a song with well-written lyrics is what I needed.

So after I finished the script, I turned to my dear friend, The Fishermen Three, an amazing singer and songwriter. He has a very similar take on the feeling of love. I presented him with the script to see if the story would make his heart sing.

A few weeks later, he came back to me singing “Those Kisses.” I cried because I knew that this song would “give a soul to my story, wings to the characters’ minds, flight to my imagination and life to The Ticket.”

It was like a fairytale come true that The Fishermen Three had created this perfect puzzle piece to complete The Ticket.

As a filmmaker, I understand that sometimes it may not be possible to have someone create original music for our films. There are still many ways to find the right music for our work. For example, in my first short film The Last 3 Minutes, I fell in love with a song called “Oh Shenandoah,” which is public domain. I had a remarkable musician, Tim Godwin, perform a brand new version of the song for me.


The Ticket


Lydia Hurlbut:
As a child, I had the privilege to be raised by two parents who were musicians with classical music always playing in the background (Wagner, Beethoven, Bach, Mozart etc.). I rebelled as a teenager by listening to 1980’s heavy metal, which irritated my Dad to no end! (AC/DC, Metallica, BonJovi, Zepplin, Rush, Ozzie, etc.) Now my taste in music has shifted and broadened. I love everything from Linkin Park to Sarah McLachlan. Po is absolutely correct in her belief that music pervades both life and work. Whatever the genre, it is a refuge during difficult times and something that we use as a memory marker. A song always brings you back to a certain point in your life. For filmmakers, music is a critical choice that will be with that work of art forever. It is important to do research and make a wise decision.

What if you are on a strict budget or maybe a composed score isn’t exactly what you need? Here is another great option for music. Hurlbut Visuals recently discovered a music licensing resource, The Music Bed. (They are also one of our newest sponsors for 2013.) Shane met the guys behind The Music Bed while speaking at Masters In Motion this year in Austin, Texas. The two founders are filmmakers themselves, and they developed the company from their passion for seeing filmmakers’ productions go to the next level by providing high quality music. There is a fee for each song and you must obtain a license from them, but it is another alternative to Royalty Free Sites. Their music library is full of diverse music: scores, composed cinematic pieces, indie rock, singer/songwriter, etc.

The following is a short playlist of some of Shane’s favorites on the site that you can listen to. If this is of value, they have offered a 20% off coupon code on your first order. Coupon code = shanehurlbut  (This offer expires April 15, 2013)

1. Please Help Me. Band: A.M. Architect

2. Unspoken. Band: A.M. Architect

3. The Autumn Took Its Forest Bride. Band: Aural Method

4. Better Now. Band: Bombay

5. Syncopy. Band: Bombay

6. Dutch Music. Band: Bradford Nyght


As a filmmaker, your story and budget will ultimately dictate the musical choice. How have you chosen the music for your work?


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Daniel Carettoni February 28, 2013 at 2:36 PM

Absolutely true. Music is half of the film experience.

Shane March 2, 2013 at 9:44 AM

Daniel Cerettoni. Thanks for the comment and support.

black parrot March 1, 2013 at 1:37 PM

Definitely! music is indeed a source of inspiration that informs a great deal our work; and the mystery with which we feel alive.

Charles March 2, 2013 at 5:43 AM

Right! Especially Dutch music.
Greetings from the Netherlands!

Shane March 2, 2013 at 2:04 PM

Charles. Thanks for the comment and support.

abhishek krishnkant March 5, 2013 at 10:56 AM

Superb article.thanks for sharing.

Shane March 7, 2013 at 6:47 AM

Abhishek Krishnkant. Thank you for the comment and support.

zhouzhou March 12, 2013 at 6:26 PM

if your shots are no good, music won’t help. Music with verse are no good for film. Music is abstract, the verse turns it into something concrete


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