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Can Independent Film Makers Afford High Quality Scores

Composed by Shunda Wallace Orchestrator/Arranger/Composer

 

I was at a film festival a few years back and there was a panel discussion on this very topic. Quincy Jones’ son who is a film maker, made the statement when I asked him the question, why are most of the low-budget independent films of today aren’t using higher quality scores with authentic orchestral textures rather than sound track’s and synthesized scores,  his response was. “We can’t afford ya’ll” His father Q, is that type of composer and he stated that he and his father have had those discussions. There is a clear difference in the sound design for the films of today and the films of yesterday. Independent Films of today, due to budgetary concerns cannot afford the large orchestral film-scoring format because this particular format is such a specialized area that requires extensive musical knowledge and also requires the ability to subcontract at least 50 musicians or more in addition to studio costs with a qualified person to conduct the session. This level of sound design, however involved and specialized, enhances the story line and subsequently raises the quality of the film tremendously. In current day low-budget films, the soundtrack format has become a more popular substitute for the high quality film-scoring format of yester-year.

Tranformations film score session conducted by Shunda Wallace
Tranformations film score session conducted by Shunda Wallace
Tranformations film score session conducted by Shunda Wallace
Tranformations film score session conducted by Shunda Wallace
Tranformations film score session conducted by Shunda Wallace
Tranformations film score session conducted by Shunda Wallace

58th Street Entertainment is dedicated to the low-budget independent film community. Our Mission in film scoring is to bring back the orchestral format to low-budget films that cannot otherwise afford the more elaborate process of film scoring where conductor’s arrangers and qualified musicians are an integral part of the creative process. In the hollywood film scores today, there is an entire staff devoted just to the music for the film, ie; 5 orchestrators. 3 subcontractor’s, librarian, lawyers, agents, and the list goes on. Were talking a million or more just for the music. This same effect can be done for film budgets under a million, with the same quality musicians and composers. Most film makers are just not aware, understandably so. I’d be interested in your comments, especially the film makers out there strugglin to do it with a small budget.

Ms. Wallace joined the faculty at Michigan State University as Guest Lecturer in 2004-2005 while being considered for the Doctorate of Musical Arts in Western Composition Program (later learning there was no Doctoral Program in Jazz Composition).  Ms. Wallace holds a Bachelors of Music in Music Management from William Paterson University a Masters Degree in Jazz Arranging and Orchestration from William Paterson University in addition to an Advanced Level Board Certification in Music Therapy from Montclair State University.