Music of ‘The Mars Generation’

Whether we’re working with a brush stroke, a chord strum or a video timeline edit, creativity is the driving force for artists; I speak from experience, having been a video producer/editor and musician for the last several decades. I’ve always been curious about the collaborative process musicians go through with film producers to create soundtracks that drive the emotion of the story, especially that of a space-related movie.

That’s why it was fascinating to talk with music composer Tyler Strickland, who recently scored the documentary “The Mars Generation,” about a group of youngsters attending NASA’s Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama. The movie will be available on Netflix sometime in 2017. In the past, Strickland has composed music for award-winning documentaries “Hot Girls Wanted” and “Audrie & Daisy.” In our email interview, I asked Strickland about his foray into the space-film genre. [Space Movies to Watch in 2017] As a musician myself, I have an understanding of the songwriting process and how it differs from person to person, and genre to genre. For people who have never been part of the process, can you briefly explain how you go about composing music for a movie.

Tyler Strickland: The first thing I do is meet with the director and editor of the film and we watch a rough cut of the film. We then talk about their dreams for the music and what they want to see come from the score. After that, we talk more about instrumentation, and I give suggestions maybe they haven’t thought of before.

Sometimes the films are edited using temp music, which I have to replace. Sometimes that’s a good direction for the music in the film, but other times it’s a bad direction. We go back and forth about where the music should be and where it shouldn’t be until we have a good skeleton of what the music will end up looking like in the film. Then I go from there and go back to my studio and write for a week or two and come back with some music. From that point, we go back and forth on the tone of the music and if we have to make any adjustments on the instrumentation. Overall, it’s a very collaborative effort.

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