Scooby Doo’s Film Music Insight
Actually, the insight comes from my four year old watching Scooby Doo, but first here’s the question.
How important is music to a film? How intrinsic is it to the experience you take home with you?
First, let me just say that I have never thought that music was as important to others as it was to me. I mean, I have loved film music since I was 4 and always paid attention to it, but others did not.Â I could not be objective about the subject.
So up until now, I always thought people didn’t pay much attention to the score, but then I started noticing how my two young boys responded to movies. You can learn a lot about the psychology of the audience by looking at how children react to things. Their responses are pure and untainted.
Here’s the story: I rented the movie “Scooby-Doo, Pirates ahoy!”, a direct to DVD release for my two sons, 8 and 4 years old. I didn’t expect much, but what the hell, for $1.24 I wasn’t losing much!
The animation was run of the mill, the standard for such films, the story was fine and worked well enough. But what most surprised me was the quality of the music.
From the start the instrumental melody of the main title sticks in your brain and sets up a great mood for the show. The songs are also very good (with a few exceptions.) My sons liked it right away and loved the music.
Now, here’s the kicker. This really surprised me and opened my eyes.
Lucas, who is four years old, started asking for the movie by singing the music. He wanted to see it again and he didn’t remember the name of it, so in order to ask me to buy it, he sang some of the music!
“Dad, buy me that movie … mmm …. I can’t remember the name … (starts to sing).”
Of course, my first response was “wow, that’s amazing! My son’s a genius!”
But after I got over my parental pride attack, I started to realize how important the music was to his experience in watching this film. How those melodies stayed with him and were part of his positive feelings for the film.
I thought about this for a while, about what this meant. I was reminded of films like “Laura”, “Doctor Zhivago”, “The Magnificent Seven”, “Lawrence of Arabia”, “Love Story”, “The Pink Panther”, “James Bond”, “Star Wars”, “Indiana Jones”, “Harry Potter” and all these great films with great melodies that stick with us, and I began to realize that, perhaps, these melodies were more important to everyone’s film going experience than I had first thought.
So, what conclusions can we reach from this? I am sure you can think of many. Here are some of mine.
People take home the melodies and it reminds them of the film the same way songs remind you of a person, an event or a place. It’s natural, human nature, make use of it.
A great melody that people like will make people like the film better. So do not be afraid of melody. too many film makers ask for “texture only, please”, afraid that a melody will detract from the actions or dialogue on screen. Trust me, it’s not true.
Memorable melodies are important! And trust me, writing a great tune like Mancini did and to do it on demand requires talent and training. Choose you composers wisely. Gear does not the composer make.
No temp tracks. Let the story, actingÂ and images inspire the music and don’t lock it into being an imitation of music from another film. This is your film, right? A temp track can hinder the music from finding its own voice, its own flow.
And my last thought: if a picture is worth a thousand words, then make it a moving image and add some music, and then words can’t describe it! That is the magic of film! So leave room for those moments.
So thank you Lucas and Scooby Doo for this little insight on the psychology of the audience.