Making My Own Movie Soundtracks

makingmoviesoundtracks
I’ve been doing movie soundtracks since I was about 10 years old–it was a natural outgrowth, for me, of watching movies. Sometimes I’d be sitting in the movie theater watching a movie, and think, “Wow, this scene would be AWESOME with [insert title of song] playing in the background.”

(Note: Before you are overly awed by my prowess, let me say that I haven’t actually dubbed any film over with my own choices of music. Rather, I have done personal movie soundtracks in an easier and much lower-tech way, detailed)

When I had long summer days to kill, I’d often spend them doing endless retakes of movie soundtracks, over and over again until I got just the right timing and just the right song. I’d lay across the bed, headphones on and CD player running, remote in hand, pausing either the music or the video to sync them together so that the climax of the song went perfectly with the action onscreen, or so the meaningful lyrics melded seamlessly with the characters’ faces and dialogue. (Several of my old VCR tapes are a little damaged from being paused in the same place over and over again…yeah, that’s how into this I got.) It was a great thrill to me to match music and visual together, to heighten the movie’s effect with cool music (that was also cool to listen to by itself). Here’s how I did it:

Tools:

  • TV
  • VCR/DVD player
  • CD Player/iPod
  • Remote control with pause button
  • Movie of your choice
  • Sense of what music goes with which scene the best

I don’t do this as often anymore due to time constraints, but over the years I’ve refined a couple of my music choices to be presentable enough to other people (LOL). Though this has been a largely solitary craft for me, people generally find my choices to be appropriate (if perhaps oddly fitting).

Some Examples from My Personal Soundtracks

  • Movie: Mary Poppins
    • Scene: Mr. Banks (David Tomlinson) walking the darkened street to the bank, where he knows he will be fired
    • Song: “Hello” – Evanescence
    • Why: The song is brooding and dark, beautiful in its sadness; the scene is lonely and just as darkly filmed. Mood and lyrics both match up well.
  • Movie: Super Mario Bros.
    • Scene: Mario (Bob Hoskins) and the missing Brooklyn girls escape King Koopa’s Goomba force by sliding down a frozen heating pipe on a mattress.
    • Song: “Wipeout” – The Surfaris
    • Why: A surfing song for a mattress-sled-ride? Why not? This is ABSOLUTELY HILARIOUS when matched up!!
  • Movie: Disney’s Cinderella
    • Scene: Cinderella is trapped in the attic room while her stepsisters try on the glass slipper, and all the mice and birds try to help her escape while her stepmother, stepsisters, and Lucifer the cat want to keep her trapped.
    • Song: “C*m On Feel The Noize” – Quiet Riot
    • Why: This is a rousing call-to-arms song (for partiers, anyway); this scene falls right before Cinderella is finally vindicated, and all her mouse and bird friends are trying to help her, so it works as a fist-pumping anthem. Not to mention that there’s a lot of noise going on as the mice and birds fight Lucifer the cat! The drum-and-voices climax of the song can match up beautifully with either Bruno (the dog) finally chasing Lucifer out, or with Cinderella finally being freed.

Summary

If you’ve never tried making your own movie soundtracks, I find it a lovely and fun pastime to try. All you need is a song you think would match up to a movie scene, a way to play both the song and the movie, and a few minutes to set it up!

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