The work of Yoav Goren has been featured in movie trailers for The Wolverine, Rush, 47 Ronin and Star Trek: Into Darkness among many others. On September 12, Goren gives a talk entitled Trailer Music: New Trends/ Modern Techniques at the Production Music Conference in Los Angeles.
The Emmy-winning composer and producer and co-founder of Immediate Music talks to Elbert Wyche about the formation of his company, the oft-misunderstood trailer music industry and the creative process of scoring movie trailers.
Tell me a little about your start in the industry and how it led to the formation of your company Immediate Music.
We have to go back a little over 20 years to get to the beginning of the story. I was working at a music store in Santa Monica and one of my regular clients was a composer who I got friendly with. We discovered we liked the same kind of music, which is the big orchestral soundtrack. We started working and writing together. He made a foray into writing music for trailers back in the 1980s. We just decided that we wanted to do that line of work together to use as a stepping stone to scoring for film, which is what we both wanted to do. So we wrote some pieces together and submitted them around town. In LA there’s a pretty vibrant scene of trailer houses, post-production houses. One person at one of these trailer houses liked what he heard and we got to compose a trailer for them. Over the next few years we created a catalogue of trailer music that editors and producers could just take and drop into their trailers or start cutting around them instead of having everything come from the score. So that was the beginning of our company.
How did you come up with the name?
The name Immediate Music was a reference to the idea that we could turn around music quickly for custom scoring and we could turn around and license music for a trailer even at the last moment. It kind of grew into this bigger catalogue with a lot of expense taken in creating the music. In the beginning we were doing it mostly on samplers then we graduated into doing very big, live orchestral productions.
I imagine that it’s a common misperception that the music in a trailer is always the music from the movie.
It’s a very common misperception because when you’re sitting in the theatre and watching a trailer for, let’s say, Transformers or something like that, you’re assuming what you’re seeing and hearing are the visuals and sound from the movie. That’s very, very rarely the case. The trailer is an advertising vehicle for the film. Obviously the visuals have to be from the film, but you can certainly cheat with the soundtrack. The music that’s used on these trailers is really only from the marketing perspective of what’s gonna get more attendance on that opening weekend. Even if they did want to use music from the feature, these trailers and teaser trailers come out as early as a year before the release of the film when the music hasn’t even begun to be worked on.
With whom do you work most closely – filmmakers, marketing executives or creators from the trailer house?
All of the above actually. Mostly we’re dealing directly with the producers at the trailer house who work for the marketing directors at the studio who sometimes are beholden to the directors, depending on the deal. Sometimes directors do get involved in the marketing and I’ve got to say that generally complicates the process. Again, making a trailer is very different from making a film. There are areas of expertise that people have worked their whole careers honing.
Have you composed any feature film scores?
Yes. I do take on film school projects. When I do I really look for them to be totally different from what I do in trailers. I really look for small independent films, documentaries, just because the style and music for that would be very different from what I do on the trailer side. Over the past 10 years I’ve done three or four feature films. Way below the radar. It’s mostly for artistic enjoyment, more than anything. It’s a different hat.
After wearing both hats, how does the approach differ when writing for film and writing for trailers?
The process on writing for film is a very deep collaboration between the director and the composer. A two-hour film has many moments that you’re trying to elevate or accentuate with music being either in your face or mostly as sub context. And you’ve got a lot of moving parts like story, character, subplots and more. In a trailer it’s really a two-minute film. With trailers, in the collaborative process you’re working with a different goal; you’re working to sell the movie. I’m not going to say it’s less artistic because we do have to be artistic and very creative and mask that in pursuit of a marketing agenda. The time-line in the production of trailer music is a lot shorter, as you can imagine. It’s generally one of the last things that goes on the trailer.
Your newest release Nu Epic seems to take a step beyond trailer music. Is that the direction you see this form of music taking?
The genre that started as trailer music has evolved into a broader form that I call epic music. A lot of composers are writing in the genre without really writing for trailers. It’s become popular in that it’s big, orchestral – sometimes hybrid orchestral mixing electronics and orchestra. But the main thread throughout this music is that it’s big, emotional and evokes a huge sense of drama and many facets of the human condition in the music. Even at Immediate we have different legs of our business we do the trailer stuff but we also release music commercially that is “epic music”. We enjoy not being limited to writing this kind of music for a custom trailer and just writing three or four-minute pieces of music that evoke that cinematic sense. That’s what we accomplished with Nu Epic.