Finding the Perfect Song // An Interview with Joe Simon


We recently featured the short film "Budapest" from our friend Joe Simon. Over the course of a day, he filmed a captivating portrait of a beautiful, historic city. Check out the vignette HERE.

One of the striking and successful elements in Simon's film is the use of music and how it moves the images on screen. The sparseethereal song "Dusk" helped create an vivid atmosphere of reflection and perfectly glided with the sweeping landscapes on screen. We caught up with Joe Simon and chatted with him about how he arrived to find the perfect soundtrack.

M: What was the process of finding the right music for "Budapest"?

JS: I wanted to find a song that was a little mysterious, started off slow and built up to a really nice climax. I love searching for music on Marmoset because of the "Arc" search, it makes my life a lot easier that I can find music specifically to hit the high points I've planned for the edit. I had a quick deadline editing this film, I wanted to edit this in Budapest within 12 hours so I had to limit my music search to 1 hour and I happened on this song about 45 mins into my search. As soon as I heard it I knew it was the one. 


M: What led you to decide to choose "Dusk" out of so many songs? What was it about that song?

JS: There was a few things that made this song perfect. 

1. Started off very slow, almost ambient. This allowed me to open with the right shots to create anticipation

2. A solid build throughout the song

3. Built to a great sounding climax.

4. The instruments had the right sound to fit the vibe I pictured in my head. 


M: How important do you find music to be in your projects?

JS: Music is huge, it's a large part of our storytelling process. The music sets the tone of our films as well it enhances the emotional content. Different music will make your viewer feel different things about the same footage/story, it's so powerful. 

Continuing along with Simon's point about how music can set the tone of a film, here are 2 examples of "Budapest" with a different soundtrack to showcase how completely different the mood can be by changing the music.

In this version of the film, we used the song "Silverleaf" by Glass Wands. This piano-led ambient piece starts off sparse and ultimately ascends into a beautiful crescendo with strings and synthesizer.

In the second of two examples, we took a more energetic approach with the song "Bright Beginning" by D.V.S. This music evokes a sense of hope and moves at a quicker pace with an elevated pulse from the drum machine.