BMI music will present the Music & Film roundtable at Sundance |

BMI music will present the Music & Film roundtable at Sundance

One of the most powerful tools a filmmaker can use is music.

Music sets the tone of a scene and even the lack of music can be as striking as a full orchestral overture.

The trick is finding ways to use music correctly.

That’s one of the reasons why the Sundance Film Festival partners with BMI music to present "Music & Film: The Creative Process," an annual roundtable panel discussion that brings together many filmmakers and composers whose works are included in the festival’s screenings.

This year’s panel will be held on Tuesday, Jan. 27, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., at the Filmmaker Lodge, 550 Main Street, second floor.

The discussion will be moderated by Doreen Ringer-Ross, BMI’s vice president of film/TV relations, and will focus on the role music plays in film.

Recommended Stories For You

Composer Mark Orton will be one of the panelists this year.

Orton scored Jim Strouse’s "People, Places, Things," a comedy drama starring Jemaine Clement of "Flight of the Conchords" fame.

"I think it’s an interesting panel," Orton said during a phone call to The Park Record from his home studio in Portland, Oregon, earlier this week. "You get a real-world view, whether you come at it from the technical side, or you’re a musician and composer or a director, or just interested in the process of making a film yourself."

This year’s panelists include composer H. Scott Salinas and director Matthew Heineman of "Cartel Land;" composer Ilan Eshkeri and Jared Hess of "Don Verdean;" composer Bryan Senti and director Michael Almereyda of "Experimenter;" composer Miriam Cutler and director Kirby Dick of "The Hunting Ground" and composer Peter Golub and director Chloé Zhao of "Songs My Brother Taught Me," to name a few.

"I think it’s always interesting to hear how others do their thing," he said. "I think composers strive to be individual voices and somewhat singular in our processes."

Orton, who is also known as the founder of the Bay Area instrumental band Tin Hat, should know. He participated in the panel last year.

"I was there with a Sundance film called ‘Drunktown’s Finest’ that was directed by Sydney Freeland," Orton said. "That film originated in the Sundance Institute and I had met the director while I was a composer fellow and we were paired together. I scored parts of the film. After she left the Institute to finish the film she hired me on to finish the film."

Orton enjoys listening to the other composers and filmmakers who are on the panel.

"The variety of people and the variety of their processes in making a film and scoring it can give you a good picture of what it is to be a film-score composer and a director," he said. "As a composer, in some ways, you have the most creative control of any of the collaborators of the film. This can be to the film or director’s detriment if it goes the wrong direction.

"The wrong music in the film can undermine a director’s vision and the right music can do the reverse," Orton said. "Not that all the other collaborations are not important, but music can complete a film."

When Orton teaches a film course, he will play a scene from Peter Jackson’s "Lord of the Rings" and show a one-minute clip of a couple of hobbits walking through the woods.

"I will show them what that scene is like without music and then I will show it with the wrong music," he said. "Then I’ll show it with the right music."

Working on "People, Places, Things" was a great experience, Orton said.

"I can say, out of all the films I have worked on over the years, it’s my wife’s favorite of any of those projects," he said with a laugh. "I’m not allowed to choose favorites, but it is [near] the top.

"It’s a great film and I can’t say too much about it," Orton said. "The writing is wonderful and Jemaine is absolutely awesome."

Orton will finally meet Strouse face to face for the first time at the festival.

"We did everything remotely and had some great discussions on the phone or via Skype," Orton said. "I had a great time working with him. It was an easy relationship. We saw eye-to-eye on the film. He is a director with a very clear vision and it comes across in this film. I’m looking forward to participating in the panel and meeting Jim."

The Sundance Film Festival and BMI will present "Music & Film: The Creative Process," on Tuesday, Jan. 27, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., at the Filmmaker Lodge, 550 Main Street, second floor. The event is open to Sundance Film Festival credential holders as space allows. For more information, visit .