The Score of 'Beasts of the Southern Wild' with Dan Romer and Director Benh Zeitlin
It’s a fairly uncommon thing for a director to score his own films — examples come to mind, to be sure, but it’s always interesting to see what comes out of such an arrangement. The director, of course, has a deep understanding of a film’s emotional texture. This makes the prospects of what a director-composer may bring to a film truly unique. Beasts of the Southern Wild is one such case, in which co-composer Dan Romer and director Benh Zeitlin worked together to create a simple but emotively articulate score.
In case you need a bit of a memory-jogger, here’s the trailer of Beasts of the Southern Wild:
Recently, the The Creators Project interviewed Benh and Dan on their scoring process for the film:
Here’s the Creators Project on Beasts‘s score:
…Like the film’s heroine, the score is equal parts heart-wrenching and triumphant, filling the theater with thick, Cajun-style accordion melodies and folksy string arrangements.
We caught up with Benh Zeitlin and co-composer Dan Romer in the video above to discuss the score and Romer’s “scientific ability” to match sound to what Zeitlin showed him onscreen. The symbiotic relationship also works because as Zeitlin films, he is conscious of leaving out dialogue in moments “so the music can fill it in.”
I think that last bit is also fascinating — instead of simply shooting, blocking, and pacing a scene and worrying about where the score will fit in (or what it may do simply ‘on top’ of everything), the scene is actually designed to be emotionally complemented by the score. Definitely one of the unique benefits that may come with such a director-composer dual role, as well as collaborating with another composer who complements the director’s musical process as well.
We’ve already shared the other making-of clips produced by the Creators Project, but in case you missed them, here they are:
Have you as directors also taken a key role in the writing or production of a film’s score? How do you non-musician directors out there generally approach your collaborations with composers for your films?
- Benh Zeitlin and Lucy Alibar Describe the Script's Evolution for Beasts of the Southern Wild
- 'Beasts of the Southern Wild' Making of Demonstrates the Benefits of Collective Filmmaking
- Screenplays for 'Beasts of the Southern Wild,' 'The Sessions,' and More Now Online