Score: A Film Music Documentary, directed by Matt Schrader, played to 60 people on Saturday morning at the Music Box Theater in Chicago. When I screened the movie on Friday afternoon, it immediately jumped to the top of my shortlist for best documentary film in 2017.

Financed in part through a Kickstarter campaign, the documentary is amazing but it could be so much more. It’s only 93 minutes but with a better budget, it could easily be two hours or more. I’d be interested in what was left on the cutting room floor–it should be noted that the movie will have a two-disc DVD released with six hours of raw footage.

There’s a great selection of film composers but the great John Williams is only seen through archive footage. It would have added to the film if we had been treated with new interview footage. There’s a lot that can be said about Williams and his work definitely speaks for itself.

It’s amazing to see these brilliant film composers taking us behind the scenes of what they do and the challenges that may come as they bring music to a film. They have one of the hardest jobs in writing the music that complements a movie. Can you imagine films like Star Wars or Indiana Jones without their iconic theme songs by John Williams?

The interviewees include Hans Zimmer, James Cameron, Danny Elfman, John Williams, Quincy Jones, Trent Reznor, Howard Shore, Rachel Portman, Thomas Newman, Randy Newman, Leonard Maltin, Robert Kraft (a former president of Fox Music, who also produces), and the late James Horner and Garry Marshall. During the credits, Cameron remembers James Horner.

During the documentary, Brian Tyler is seen walking into a screening of Avengers 2: Age of Ultron just to see how the audience reacts to the score. He tries to avoid people watching him as he watches them.

Schrader, a three­‐time Emmy Award-‐winning news producer, left CBS in 2014 to pursue this movie, one of the most popular crowdfunding campaigns that year. This is his first feature-length documentary and it really doesn’t get much better than this. He makes the documentary that many film nerds, myself included, have been wanting to see for years. Does it fall short of expectations? No. Could it be better? Definitely–but I’m satisfied by what’s on screen.

Following the Chicago Critics Film Festival, Score will play the festival circuit for the next month prior to Gravitas Ventures releasing the documentary on June 16, 2017. The book, SCORE: A Film Music Documentary — The Interviews, is available on Amazon now.


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