Film Director's Top 5 Tips for Science Fiction Film Music Production
From Budgeting to Licensing, What Every Pro Knows
|All Your Music Are Belong To Us|
Amateur or Professional Film Director, these insider tips will save you serious dough when putting together the music soundtrack for your science fiction film.CONTENT: Creating a science fiction film music score today involves more than simply taking your nearest theremin emulator and creating some whacked out sine waves or editing in Zowie's "Broken Machine".
While writing science fiction film music might seem pretty simple,
a good film score always keeps the story and main characters in mind,
whether the music represents killer ants from outer space, Transformers, or zombie grandmothers from the planet Mars.
Follow these professional film music tips to get the most out of your science fiction film music score.
1. When is the science fiction film set?
Whether you direct the latest possible Hollywood blockbuster or a film school indie project, you need to keep location in mind when determining the music for your film score.
Music has a specific time stamp depending on the style and instruments used.
If the audience hears the whining of a theremin and analog synthesizer accompanied by nothing else but dialogue, immediately the mind jumps to the earliest black and white science fiction classics like Forbidden Planet. On the other hand, throw in processed digital drum loops and a voice processed with a vocoder and autotune, and you have a score that could take place today. Do you want a purely orchestral score, or even a science fiction hybrid of live percussion and digital modular synthesizers? What would music of the future sound like fifty years from now or a millennium from now? Would instruments advance technologically, or will the people of the future choose more evolved acoustic musical instruments? Ask yourself these types of questions.
2. Where is the science fiction film?
Location can help determine what type of music you need for your science fiction film. Does your film take place in a far-off desert land that only has access to hybrid cacti? Maybe you and some friends can experiment with sounds made from the fictional future by incorporating rainsticks, cactus shakers, log drums, and other various instrument creations made from the cactus. Does the film take place in a laboratory or in an alien royal court? What real society most closely represents the society in your science fiction film? Check out websites like National Geographic World Music to get some ideas.
3. Who are the main film characters?
Does the hero play a futuristic electric guitar when he's down? Does the heroine jam on drums made of dead Martian elk and alien rosewood? Create a musical association with each character, and the audience will understand your science fiction film at a much deeper level.
4. What is your film budget?
As you consider what you plan to do for your film score, keep your budget in mind. Can you afford to hire a professional film composer? Maybe you can ask a student film composer to create a science fiction film score for a reduced rate. You might decide to create the music yourself. Many great directors have opted to come up with their own film music score. If you have a background in music, get an easy program like Garageband to start the ideas flowing for your own film. Who knows? You might come up with an unforgettable theme like director John Carpenter's unforgettable theme for Halloween.
5. A note about music licensing.
If you are working on an independent or student film project and decide to use preexisting science fiction music, be sure to secure the rights for your project. The United States has very strict copyright protections regarding the use of music in film. While student projects for classroom use only have more freedom in using preexisting music, any serious director who hopes to achieve even an iota of fame through public screenings at festivals and theaters has to secure the rights of any music they use. An indie film director can end up blowing his or her entire film budget on licensing a Lady Gaga song for the opening credits.
Award-winning composer Sabrina Peña Young writes mind-numbing electroacoustic music and soundtracks heard throughout the world. Libertaria: The Virtual Opera is her latest work, an exciting animated sci-fi opera about a teen rebel Libertaria who escapes from the GenTech Factory and teams up with her addict father to lead a cyborg army. Young is a sought after composer and speaker on music technology and electroacoustic composition, and a big Sci-Fi Nerd.