Score Supervisor Amanda Street
and Jim Broadbent) for Number 9 Films / FilmFour (Sony Picture Classics / Disney), Tucker’s ‘Shopgirl’ (starring Steve Martin and Claire Danes) for Hyde Park Entertainment (Disney), ‘Submerged’ (starring Steven Segal) for Nu-Image/Millenium Films, Sean Ellis’ Oscar-nominated ‘Cashback‘ for Lefturn Films and ‘Lewis’ (the spin-off to Inspector Morse) for Granada/ITV.
Amanda gives us a little peek at her work and explains the difference in score versus music for films and what it takes for a score to be excellent.
How did you become a score supervisor / composer agent?
Score Music Supervisor Amanda Street: After 7 years at FilmFour, I kind of fell back into music after I was approached by a music publisher who wanted someone with a Film & Television background to work with their clients.
My role of score supervisor really started when I set up DNA Music Ltd and started representing composers. As their agent, my role is to liaise with producers and directors, close deals for my composers and co-ordinate the production of the score. As the work started to come in my role expanded from agent to include score supervision. It was a natural progression.
Some people may not understand the difference between score and music for a film. Could you give a general explanation for the readers?
Score Music Supervisor Amanda Street: The score is the music specifically written to picture. The composer will attend what is known as a ‘spotting session’ and spot the music to picture with the director. The composer will note down adjectives to describe what the director is trying to express in each scene and will then write the score to achieve this.
Music for film can be licensed music e.g. songs, library etc – finished works. The score is written to help the viewer experience different emotions and is intended to take them on a journey with the characters in the film.
A good score marries perfectly with the images and is unique to the picture.
Were there any specific moments in your life that inspired you to become a scoring supervisor (a film, a TV show, etc.)?
Score Music Supervisor Amanda Street: I can’t think of a defining moment that inspired me to do what I do but my parents who both worked in the music business were an inspiration to me in very different ways.
My father was a recording artist in the early sixties with
Emile Ford & The Checkmates and always encouraged me to follow my dreams. He was always playing us records or playing his guitar and made me believe anything was possible.
My mother was President of Fanclubs for Jimi Hendrix, The Animals, The Dave Clark Fiveand The Osmonds and I know this is where my organisational skills come from and my sensibility to always have a back up plan if it all goes wrong!
Apart from growing up with parents in the industry, I have always been in awe of talented composers and some of the classic scores likeJohn Barry’s ‘Ipcress File’, Ennio Morricone’s‘The Good The Bad And The Ugly’, Bernard Hermann’s Psycho, John Williams’ ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind’ and a slew of memorable scores that remind me of poignant moments in my life.
Without being too nostalgic great music scores can act as markers in our past and I think it’s a remarkable talent that can create this… so I would say this is also pretty inspirational.
What are your favourite parts of your job?
Score Music Supervisor Amanda Street: I can categorically say that the absolute best part of my job is the recording sessions. To hear first class musicians playing in fantastic studios, conducted by the creator of the music and seeing it all come together to picture is magical.
It goes without saying that being a part of great projects and working with formidable talent is a major bonus!
What are the most challenging aspects of your job?
Score Music Supervisor Amanda Street: There are various aspects to my job that I find challenging but I would say that the actual pitching for movies is the hardest. The competition in the industry is fierce and it can sometimes be very frustrating when you know your composer is perfect for the project and then it goes to someone else.
You really have to be to be thick-skinned about these things and just move on to the next project. The above is obviously related to my job as an agent rather than the score supervision. With regards to the supervision aspect then it would have to be just juggling schedules and trying to keep everyone happy!
What does a typical workday for you involve?
Score Music Supervisor Amanda Street: No day is the same that’s what makes my job interesting. I do spend a lot of time having meetings with producers and pitching for projects. When I’m not doing that, I’m either in the studio on jobs, balancing up budgets, promoting my composers, putting reels together or negotiating deals etc..
What makes for an excellent score?
Score Music Supervisor Amanda Street:
When a score works seamlessly with the celluloid and is not intrusive. There’s nothing more annoying than when a score is clumsily written or is too literal. A good score should effortlessly compliment the picture and take you on the journey that is sympathetic to the storyline.
It should also allow the movie to breathe so should not be wall-to-wall, although you are sometimes asked for this when the movie is in trouble! A good score to me is like a symphony, you travel with it as it develops with the characters and storyline until it takes you to its final conclusion.
Is there any advice you could give to writers interesting in becoming scoring composers?
Score Music Supervisor Amanda Street: Find your ‘voice’. What I mean by this is focus on what makes you different and concentrate on your strengths. This does not mean you cannot experiment but there is a lot of competition out there and you need to find out what makes you distinctive amongst a sea of composers.
Be prepared to do your time. Jump at opportunities to work with talented first-time directors because if they go far, then you’re likely to go with them. Nurture these relationships even if it means working for 5p sometimes!
Don’t be too pushy with producers or you can become an irritant and other than that let your creative juices run wild!
Are there any scores you have worked on that you are particularly proud?
Score Music Supervisor Amanda Street: That’s easy it would have to be ‘Shopgirl’ (starring Steve Martin andClaire Danes). It was my first film with Disney and the first film I put through my company DNA. Barrington Pheloung composed the beautiful score for our great friend and director Anand Tucker. It was a special film for us and I was very proud to be a part of it. (Available on I-Tunes!)
How do you go about communicating with a director or a production team for a particular project?
Score Music Supervisor Amanda Street: Well, my background working at FilmFour enabled me to work with Producers and Directors on productions we were selling internationally so a lot of my contacts have been made over the years.
When I’m pitching for work I trawl the trades and dailies and prioritise my pitching for productions where I know someone working on it! For productions that I’m cold calling, I will just call them, email them and send out our company information and composer profiles and then follow-up.
I represent some high-profile composers which obviously helps as producers will have heard of them or know their work.
There is also repeat business with long-running director-composer relationships so we know we’ll be working on the director’s next project. This is both good and bad.
From a positive point of view we continue to work with directors on all their films and the team becomes like a family.
From a negative point of view when I’m pitching for jobs, some of the great projects are already taken because you know the director will always use the same composer. It’s the nature of the beast and works both ways.
What about score supervising would surprise most songwriters or composers?
Score Music Supervisor Amanda Street: How long the process is from start to finish.
Who were your favorite artists growing up?
Score Music Supervisor Amanda Street: Pink Floyd, The Stranglers, Alice Cooper, The Who, Mozart and early U2.
Are there new opportunities in the world of scoring?
Score Music Supervisor Amanda Street: I’m sure there are… you just need to find them! For writers wanting to get into composing, I would advise they work with as many composers as they can to gain some experience and learn about the process. Composers always need engineers, interns and assistants and once you’ve got some hands-on experience shadowing a composer it will be a natural transition to becoming a composer.
How has technology (i.e. the Internet, Pro Tools, etc.) changed scoring supervision?
Score Music Supervisor Amanda Street: This is really one for my composers but from my point of view technology has helped immensely. A composer can now replicate his entire studio on a laptop and then upload his music onto an FTP site / server for downloading by the client. It’s basically sped the whole process up.
Are there any common “mistakes” you find in film or movie scores (cliches, etc.)?
Score Music Supervisor Amanda Street: When a score is ‘over-cooked’. When it’s so obvious it’s telling you what you’re supposed to be feeling and setting up the action before it needs to. Sometimes less is more and sometimes being too literal is insulting to the viewer and cheapens the film.
Another annoying problem is when the production company has skimped on the budget and unfortunately the electronic score is sticking out like a sore thumb. Don’t get me wrong there are some incredible samples out there now but it’s when you hear a film score and the composer hasn’t got them! This is intensified in the cinema when the score isn’t meant to be heard in 5.1 and the samples sound terrible.
What are your favorite five film scores (not your own)?
Score Music Supervisor Amanda Street: I don’t have five particular favorites but off the top of my head and these will come as no surprise: American Beauty, Out of Africa, Ipcress File, Jungle Book (for personal reasons), Superman and most scores by John Williams, Vertigo, The Day The Earth Stood Still, The Shawshank Redemption and too many to mention…
Who are your favorite composers that you have worked with?
Score Music Supervisor Amanda Street: That’s easy all of the composers I represent! I’ve been working a great deal with Barrington Pheloung recently and he’s always lovely to work with. All my composers are very different to each other and have their own qualities and strengths so I am very lucky to have the opportunity to work with all of them.
What projects are you currently working on?
Score Music Supervisor Amanda Street: I’ve just finished working on the second series of Lewis (the spin-off drama from Inspector Morse) for ITV / Granada. There are four films in each series all of which are 90mins so they’re treated exactly like feature film scores. The composer is Barrington Pheloung who created the iconic Morse theme and we’re releasing his first Lewis album with EMI this month. We currently have various projects in different stages of production and some of which I can’t mention yet.
However, some recent DNA productions include Guy Ritchie’s Rock’n’Rolla (Dark Castle Ents / Warner Bros), Oliver Parker and Barnaby Thompson’s St Trinian’s (Fragile Films / Entertainment Film Distributors) Stephen Surjik’s ‘I Want Candy’, Julien Temple’s ‘Joe Strummer: The Future Is Unwritten’ and and Anand Tucker’s ‘And When Did You Last See Your Father?’ (BVI / Sony Picture Classics).
What do you see yourself working on in five years from now?
Score Music Supervisor Amanda Street: A tan! …no but seriously, I have no idea. I hope to be working with talented directors on interesting films and creating some great scores. If I’m doing this in five years time then I’ll be happy.
Aside from my work with DNA, I’m working with a couple of writers and producers raising finance for their projects, together with developing film projects with my partner Darran Bennett under Mandaz Productions so in answer to your question – it would be great to be doing the music for one of these films by then.
About Amanda Street & DNA Music
Amanda Street obtained her honours degree at Middlesex University where she specialised in Photography. During this time she received the Thames Television Photography Award, The Hunters Armley Print Award and her photography and art direction contributed to winning the Champagne Mumm Admirals Cup Award.
On leaving Middlesex, Amanda joined 4D Films, a production company specialising in music videos and commercials and worked on videos for artists including Blur, Take That, Lulu & Bobby Womack, Frank Zappa, Iron Maiden and Eric Clapton.
While working at 4D, she experimented with Super 8mm and 16mm film and shot and edited a few short films. Her award-winning short Oliver was included in Twenty Twenty’s documentary The Real Oliver Reed for Channel 4.
After two years with 4D, Amanda joined MTV Europe and worked in Studio Management rostering crews for their live show “Most Wanted”, the studios and transmission suites. Following, Amanda joined Channel 4 Television / FilmFour Ltd where she worked for 7 years.
After 2 years in documentaries she moved over to FilmFour International to the position of Film Sales Executive where she was involved in the sales and marketing of feature films at all the major film festivals & markets.
Films included: Danny Boyle’s Trainspotting, Mark Herman’s Brassed Off!, Michael Winterbottom’s Welcome To Sarajevo, Damien O’Donnell’s East is East, Jonathan Glazer’s Sexy Beast, Joel Hopkins’ Jump Tomorrow, Julien Temple’s The Filth & The Fury, Allison Anders’ Sugar Town, Tim Roth’s The War Zone, Paul McGuigan’s Gangster No.1, Peter Cattaneo’s Lucky Break, Werner Herzog’s Invincible, John McKay’s Crush, Gillian Armstrong’s Charlotte Gray, Marc Mundan’s Miranda, Alan Taylor’s The Emperor’s New Clothes and Asif Kapardia’s The Warrior.
Amanda then went on to work as a Music Consultant in the Film & Television sector. Some of the films and programmes she has been involved with include: Mike Barker’s To Kill A King, Jane Campion’s In The Cut and Porchlight’s animation series Tutenstein. Some of her key film and television clients have included Pathe Pictures and Endemol Entertainment.
In 2003, Amanda set up DNA Music Ltd. and has since completed the score music supervision on Anand Tucker’s ‘And When Did You Last See Your Father?’ (starring Colin Firth and Jim Broadbent) for Number 9 Films / FilmFour (Sony Picture Classics / Disney), Tucker’s ‘Shopgirl’ (starringSteve Martin and Claire Danes) for Hyde Park Entertainment (Disney), ‘Submerged’ (starring Steven Segal) for Nu-Image/Millenium Films, Sean Ellis’ Oscar-nominated ‘Cashback‘ for Lefturn Films and ‘Lewis’ (the spin-off to Inspector Morse) for Granada/ITV. Also check out www.dna-music.com.