Music for Film: Finding Music for Tribeca Film, Clementine

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When making a movie, music inspiration can arrive at any stage imaginable — maybe it’s when using temp music while editing. Or maybe it’s getting hooked by a timeless vintage love ballad and upholding the song as the film’s inspirational axis.

In the case of Tribeca film, Clementine music inspiration struck early, Writer & Director Lara Jean Gallagher working closely with Marmoset’s Film & TV Music Licensing Team early on to find music for her independent film.

While Clementine was still being filmed, Marmoset’s Jackie Westfall stepped in as the movie’s Music Supervisor. In the midst of production, earnestness fueled the music searching process, Gallagher’s clear vision for the film’s narrative—and how it would sound via its musical components—the compass for Jackie’s music supervision.

Clementine being Gallagher’s first feature film, the writer/director is no novice in grasping how music’s presence (or lack thereof) can shape a scene — her past work includes a slew of music videos she’s directed, showcasing at SXSW and published on Pitchfork. One look through Gallagher’s portfolio is telling of her recognition of both art forms, a usage of compelling visuals and music/sound to tell a unified story.

”Gallagher had a very distinct vision for the film, how she wanted it to sound and look like,” says Jackie. “One of the interesting things is she wanted music to only play in scenes organically. So if you saw a radio or if you were in the car or somewhere you knew that music could play out of — that was an original idea that she had.”

Like any creative project, there’s an unlimited number of ways production details can go awry. Getting music rights for a film doesn’t have to live in the same vein. Jackie at the music supervising helm and Marmoset’s Jamie McMullen offering support as music coordinator, the collaboration kicked off with an in-depth spotting session. It’s the kind of channel for getting filmmaker and music supervisor on the same page, to dig deep into the philosophy behind music placement in film.

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“There’s nothing like sitting in the room with the creator, writer, director to really get a peek behind the curtain of what would you like to say?” says Jackie. “It’s a lot of exploring what the characters are thinking in a scene or asking what do you want the audience to know and then making suggestions through music.”

Forging ahead for licensing the right music for the film, Jackie applied her previous film supervision experience (a music coordinator for two Noah Baumbach films) to deliver the best undiscovered music songs for commercial use to Gallagher. There’s a harmonious balance within this kind of creative exchange, Jackie mindfully inquisitive within her communication style, leading in her music expertise but never imposing on the filmmaker’s vision.

This kind intentionality and awareness in upholding creative integrity is what any filmmaker can expect when collaborating with Marmoset’s music team. There’s an active understanding between art forms, visuals and music mutually integral to one another.

With Clementine and other notable films, music supervision can punctuate the story without losing sight of what’s unfolding visually. Experts like Jackie note the importance in knowing how to exercise music as a tool in aiding any narrative.

“It’s about elevating the art that’s already there,” says Jackie. “You don’t want your film or project to sound like a music video. It shouldn’t be that the story is in service to the music, it should be the other way around.”


Clementine premiers at the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival on April 24th and is being showcased through May 5th. Learn more about festival times and the film here.