Reflections On Being An Indie Film Producer #15

Film Score

After we agreed on the final edit, the movie was “locked”. At this point, it was time to find a composer for the soundtrack to Blood Pledge. Of course, it was more complicated than we expected—our lawyer made it clear she would not handle contracts for music.

Legally, music licensing is a specialty because of the various agreements that must be in place. It’s based on whether it’s already copyrighted music (more on that) or an original composition for the film. Here, one has to deal with a contract with the composer.

We wanted to use the song “Digging in the Dirt” by Peter Gabriel for our end credits. We reached out to his publishing company, filled out the form, and explained we were a microbudget and probably could afford about $200. I also mentioned it was a “long shot.” Well, they responded with “A very long shot.” And that was it… I believe the licensing cost was close to $10,000.

They say Hollywood is all about relationships. And it’s true. Except for the actors we hired, everyone else who worked on Blood Pledge was someone we knew personally or professionally.

Janet has a musician friend with many original compositions, and she pitched the idea of having his music in our movie. He agreed to license two songs that worked well in Blood Pledge. You can check out Doug Walters here and here.

However, every film needs a music score for emotional depth, and we ran into our usual issue of not having the funds to hire a composer.

Gib saved the day—he had worked with Silvio Amato, a well-established composer on numerous films, and Silvio agreed to work with us within our budget. The only caveat was he worked only with Gib, and the score would be a final mix. My understanding is the director has creative input during the process, but given Silvio’s experience with film scores, we agreed.

The best part of the process and, in fact, my favorite part of post-production was having meetings with Silvio to discuss the kind of music we wanted and talk about music. It’s an awesome experience working with an experienced film composer. I’m a huge fan of classical music and scores for science fiction films, so we discussed those aspects, and he gave great feedback and appreciated the fact I wanted to go in that direction.

When Silvio delivered the score, we were simply astonished by his ability to capture the mood and enhance every scene with music. Blood Pledge was a complete film now.

On a last note, in one scene, a quirky dream state exists with a future victim. Silvio used a medieval choral-like score which was haunting and yet perfectly fit with the subtext of the scene.

You can check out the results here: Blood Pledge

And if you want to see how complicated a music license can be, see this.