Why do songs play such an important role in film storytelling? What’s your all-time favorite movie song? When you started out as a songwriter, what do you wish you had known about the ups and downs of songwriting for movies that you know now?
These are some of the questions seven world-renowned songwriters answered when they joined Gold Derby’s special “Meet the Experts” Q&A event with the 2022 Oscar nominees. Watch our panel discussion complete above with Ron Mael and Russell Mael (for the song “So May We Start” from “Annette”), Idina Menzel and Laura Velz (for the song “Dream Girl” from “Cinderella”), Nicholas Baxter (for the song “Beyond the Shore” from “CODA”), Diana Warren (for the song “Somehow You Do” from “Four Good Days”) and Jamie hartmann (for the song “Here I Am (Singing My Way Home)” from “Respect”.) Click on each name above to see each person’s individual interview.
SEE Gold Derby interviews with the 2022 Oscar nominees
“A song in a movie will take it to another level,” Warren says of the value of a good song written specifically for a movie. “It’s either going to tie it up emotionally or in the movie and take you somewhere that nothing can take, because nothing can take you there like music. When you have that combination of song and visual and it’s used perfectly, it’s like nothing else,” she says.
For Ron and Russell Mael, a good song is essential to the overall emotional tone of the film. “They set the tone for what the film is about, the sensibility of the tone and the sensibility of the story,” Russell says, while brother Ron agrees, adding that “when the dialogue can’t fully express a emotional tone, music can sometimes do that in a way that even the most amazing dialogue and the most amazing acting can’t.
Baxter agrees that the songs can be more powerful when heard in the context of the film itself. “What surrounds the song and its placement in the film can also contribute to that,” he explains. “It can become incredibly powerful by putting it in the right place in the right context.”
“There’s a timelessness to them,” says Veltz. “The song that came to mind was ‘America’ from ‘West Side Story,'” she notes. “It’s amazing to me that it was written so long ago and then we hear the modern version and not only has it sadly not changed, but it’s still fun, it’s still funny and it’s is always true. And I don’t know, that kind of stuff really sticks with me. Menzel agrees that the songs can take an audience to another level. “There’s something intangible about them,” she says , describing how “music seeps into us and into our souls, connects with an audience, and you don’t need words”.
“Songs perform basic emotional functions. If they’re awesome, you know, they make you want to cry, they make me want to dance,” Hartman suggests. “They make you want to get angry or they make you smile when you need them most, you know? And so those emotions are brought together in such a candid and brilliant way that if you really pair that with the right dialogue and the right scene, you get the story of the movie.
TO PREDICT the 2022 Oscar nominees until February 8
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