guardians of the galaxy

In filmmaking, the score is almost always one of the last pieces of the puzzle. By the time a composer completes and records their score, the movie is almost always in the can. It just needs a tweak here or there before it’s done. That’s the usual order of things. For James Gunn‘s Guardians of the Galaxy though, things moved in a different order.

Gunn worked with composer Tyler Bates (300, Watchmen, Super) very early in the process so the actors could listen to the film’s eventual score during the creation of the movie’s most emotional moments and action scenes. The hope was hearing the film’s score so early in the process would let them better understand the film’s tone. Read the full quote below.

In a news release, Gunn said the following about the Guardians of the Galaxy score:

I worked very hard early on with Tyler Bates, our composer, whom I’ve done three other movies with, to write part of the score ahead of time so that I’m able to use it on set for big emotional sequences and big action sequences. We can actually play the music on set and the actors can really understand where we’re going with it tonally. Our actors have a much better idea of what this film is because of the music that we use, both score and soundtrack.

Was the final score what the actors heard? Almost certainly not. Bates had months to complete the score, and in that time he almost certainly added or expanded to it. But even the idea of trying to give the actors this kind of aid is interesting.

UPDATE: Gunn addressed this on Twitter, in that he was inspired by some of the greats:

Think of some of your favorite movies with iconic scores: Psycho, Jaws, Chariots of Fire. Now think of those movies without music. The vision and performances would be there, even the visual effects. But the emotion, the scope, it’s gone without the music. To have that while you are on set making the movie, instead of first hearing it on a recording stage, is an invaluable tool. Directors will use temp music or other sounds on set to achieve a similar effect, but it’s rare for actors to hear the actual score of the film they’re working on.

The question now is, did it work? We’ll find out very soon as James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy, starring Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista and others open August 1.

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