Temp Track Thoughts II
I was talking with a director and screenwriter I know, and for whatever reason the subject turned to temp tracks, and this is what he said about it:
“Dealing with a temp track is like writing a script by cutting and pasting from other scripts.”
Well, I started to laugh out loud! Perfect! That was exactly it! That was such a great way to explain what was wrong with temp tracks from a director’s point of view!
Temp tracks are imitative and limit your options. They give the illusion of being creative when you are simply imitating.
However, let’s face it, nothing exists in a vacuum; all art grows from knowledge of other art. The key word here is “grow”, something that simply imitates loses it’s value in a big way.
With that in mind, the temp track can be a great jumping off point. Isaac Newton said it best:
“If I have seen farther it is by standing on the shoulders of giants” – Isaac Newton
Yes, temp tracks can ge be a great starting point, but most often they become a finish line.
I understand that, though, really I do. For the director, the score is the one thing that is out of his control, the one thing in production that require complete faith because it takes a while to hear the final product, expressing what you want is difficult, and it’s not like working with an actor where the feedback is instantaneous. (See previous post.)
So yes, I understand why temp tracks become finish line, but it is not the best solution for the film.
- Get your composer in early, during pre-production even. Make the music a part of the process, not an afterthought. (You don’t start writing a script 3 weeks before principal photography is scheduled to begin, do you?)
- Get the composer to write mockups while you shoot and then edit with this original music.
- Make the original music a part of the creative editing process. Write, rewrite, cut down and discuss new directions if needed.
- When the final cut is ready, then the final composition can take place with complete confidence and great speed.
This way, the composer and director can make the music a real creative element in the film’s design and not just an afterthought that is imitative and pasted on.