Interview with Music Supervisor Rupert Hollier

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We sat down with Rupert Hollier of RedFive Creative to learn more about his role as a music supervisor, the opportunities for independent music within sync and the stand out projects from his career so far.

What is the role of music supervisor?

The role of a music supervisor can actually vary a lot more than people may think. In terms of film & TV, which is the main area I work in, a supervisor will generally take the role of Head of Department on the production. This will mainly encompass working with the director(s) and producer(s) in order to source, negotiate and clear songs for particular cues/scenes within the film or show.

This can be as simple as obtaining quotes for tracks the director/producers already want in the scene, or that have been written into the script. It can also mean doing a potentially wide ranging creative search to find the right track to fit the scene, be that in terms of tempo, lyrics, or energy etc, whilst always managing the budget that the production has allocated or secured across the music department.

We also get involved in composer creative and negotiation, orchestral sessions, and score funding and union fees as well as final delivery to the production of all paperwork in relation to all of the above.

How did you get into music supervision?

I started working in music publishing, which sometimes encompassed pitching songs for use in TV shows, films and advertising. Although the landscape was quite different when I started to what it is today. I was always obsessed with music used with moving images, and so naturally gravitated towards that end of our work. From there I had various stints working freelance and within large companies, almost always involved in both publishing and song pitching, and things progressed from there.

What are the challenges you face when trying to find that perfect song?

It is probably the opinions of the production crew and budget – and it is a rare occasion when all those particular stars align! Ultimately if it doesn’t work in the scene for the director, and in terms of the budget for the production, you can start to go down creative alleys you may not have thought of, which can yield some amazing results creatively.

Are there opportunities for independent artists to get their music synced?

Yes absolutely – across every kind of production globally. I would just always state the obvious – make sure it is all mixed and mastered, and make sure you are researching productions, music agencies and supervisors, what their niches are and what they are working on.

What’s your favourite project that you’ve worked on so far?

There are a few – I really enjoyed working on “McQueen” a couple of years ago, it’s a beautiful film. Also as a fan, the new series of “The Trip (to Greece)”. We also have a couple coming out (when the world opens again), which have been really fantastic to work on – watch this space!

What’s the worst thing that an artist has done to get your attention?

Erm…no one has done anything especially “bad”, although sometimes people can bombard you, and can get quite angry and stressed if you aren’t giving them in-depth feedback and opportunities for their work. A supervisor is only as good as the creative they have on at the time (on that front).

Do you look at an artist’s social media or streaming stats when you’re looking to license their music?

I don’t personally – it won’t affect any choices I personally make – although sometimes it can come into consideration depending on the production, their released schedule and marketing plans. But it is rare, unless it is a big studio picture.

You also sit on the Board of the UK & European chapter of the Guild of Music Supervisors. What work are they doing within the industry?

The GMS is actively engaged in protecting and elevating the craft of Music Supervision in the UK & Europe. We initially worked very closely with the US Guild, and whilst we do of course stay actively in touch with them, our territories have their own set of problems and issues to deal with.

We put on master classes, where supervisors will either chair panels, host Q & A’s or also facilitate workshops on everything from how to start in music supervision to what the nature of the job entails and the pitfalls therein. We also engage extensively with the rights holders and unions about how to improve the licensing process and relationships across the board.

Lastly, if you could give one piece of advice to songwriters looking to get their music in front of music supervisors, what would that be?

Network heavily, make sure your material is in a state that can be easily accessed and dropped into a production if necessary. Research what people are working on them – and as ever, be patient, yet proactive.

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