So often, film and film discussion focuses on the people in front of or at least immediately behind the camera, which makes it all the more refreshing when people turn the camera on lesser-exposed talents. The Hollywood Reporter did just that recently, when its International News Editor, Kevin Cassidy, sat down with five Hollywood composers as part of THR’s roundtable series. Hans Zimmer (“Interstellar”), John Powell (“How to Train Your Dragon 2”), Marco Beltrami (“The Homesman”), Trent Reznor (“Gone Girl”), and Danny Elfman (“Big Eyes”) gathered to talk about their year in film, as well as their respective approaches to composing scores for modern cinema. With two Oscars, another 20 Academy Award nominations, and countless other awards between them, the quintet is undeniably one of true heavyweights.
Beltrami, who might be one of the least recognizable among the group but had eight credits in 2014 alone, offers a fascinating look into his approach on the Tommy Lee Jones directed “The Homesman.” He claims that the wind plays a key role in the film—at least thematically. Thus, Beltrami used the element as his inspiration, building instruments on set that require wind to play. There’s a gorgeous (and perhaps a bit odd) shot of Beltrami and his musicians standing on the edge of a cliff, waiting for the wind to gust so they can record their music.
Elfman’s first turn speaking engenders an interesting discussion among the composers on praise, in particular that, which comes from directors. The composer, who has worked with Tim Burton on virtually every one of the director’s films, says he doesn’t expect Burton to ever heap praise upon him or his scores. Burton’s never said he’s loved any of Elfman’s music, and in fact, effusive praise would scare Elfman off. He claims such gushing is never a good thing; instead, he’s come to accept Burton’s pensive stare as approval enough.
What was it like working on “Interstellar”? What did Nine Inch Nails frontman Reznor think of his third collaboration with David Fincher? What are some of the biggest challenges a composer faces when trying to make music for a film? Watch the full 45-minute video below to find out.