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:

Video is no longer available:

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?

Link: Court 13 On Creating The Emotive Score For Beasts of The Southern Wild -- The Creators Project

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I downloaded the soundtrack months before I was able to see the film. If you have listened to it you know how easy it was for me to fall in love with the film even before I had watched it. Now that I have seen the film, I cannot listen to the score without returning to the emotional place I was while watching the movie. That deep connection makes sense now, knowing how involved the director was with the score and how much it affected the pacing of the film.

December 13, 2012 at 7:19PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

Carson McNeal

I haven't seen "Beasts", though I'd heard good things about it. I may see it eventually. As far as writing my own scores, I tend to use source music for non-commercial projects. In hiring a composer, I use existing music to attempt to relate what it is I need for the music. I have no music history or real theoretical training under my belt, so it's basically layman's terms for me.

December 15, 2012 at 8:19AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


brilliant score, beasts is my favorite film this year

December 16, 2012 at 11:26AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM