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The Musical Strategy of Cinema with Sean Goldman

Goldman conducting

Music surrounds us everywhere; in the car on our drive, during a workout, at a gathering of friends and family. Its relationship with our experiences magnifies the emotions we feel. Composer Sean Goldman has been captivated by the power of music his entire life; so much so that he has transformed his talent into a successful career in the film industry. When we think of the most beloved films we’ve seen, there is a musical complement that is inseparable from them. Sean Goldman immediately connects with this. He’s become the favored composer of many of today’s most intriguing filmmakers due to his ability to manifest a precise mood and an artistic harmony to their imagery. Award-winning films like 8, The Accidental Prime Minister, and others give proof of the captivating scores emanating from Goldman’s imagination. As with almost every successful creative vocation in the 21st century, artists like Sean Goldman find their creations present on a global scale. It’s the signature style of this Canadian composer that makes him identifiable.

Any great director will tell you that the musical environment of a film can make or break the atmosphere they want to create. A great admirer of Goldman’s, director Gabriele Fabbro hired him to score the film 8 while he was still writing the script. The two spent the next few months together fashioning a score that would in essence become another character in the film. 8 is a film that takes place in a pool hall and is as much about skill in billiards as in relationships. The composer went as far as representing the main characters, Jack and Jessie, with their own all-male and all-female choirs with purposeful “dirtier” notes which communicate their inner turmoil. There are notable influences in the film’s musical personality ranging from Spaghetti Westerns like The Good, the bad, and the Ugly to unexpected ones such as the Slavic folk tune “Polyushko Polye.” The eclectic ingredients which Goldman combined created an intense, dramatic, bombastic, folk-y, organic, and emotional sensibility to magnify the story. In contrast to much of the music in modern films, Sean preferred real guitars, violins, and mandolins for an earthy vibe. Fabbro was so delighted by these compositions that he played the musical works-in-progress on set for the actors during filming to inspire their performances. In one exciting scene, we see Jack honing his skills, propelled by a full orchestra. The music is so powerful that the footage was actually edited to sync with the music rather than the inverse which is the status quo for the industry.

From a New Mexico pool hall to the Indian Congress is a wide spectrum of settings. Samarth Srinivasan enlisted Goldman to work on The Accidental Prime Minister; the story of finance minister Manmohan Singh who became the 13th Prime Minister of India. Producers Sunil Bohra (Filmfare Award nominee) and Dhaval Gada instructed Sean to create a vibe which was distinctly Indian but with a Western production style, enhancing the pre-existing skeletal score. The result was a traditional Hollywood orchestral sound with Indian sonic aesthetics peppered throughout the score. As early as the opening credit sequence, the audience is informed about the tone of the story and the influences in the film by the music. The result is not only enhanced drama but an inference of accessibility to viewers from different cultures for this truly relatable tale.

In the same way that you’re likely to find the most famous actors from feature films doing commercials, Sean applies his immense talent to these types of productions. From The Accidental Prime Minister to “TELUS Health celebrates Canadian physicians” advertisement, Goldman’s creations encourage the viewer’s emotional direction. In an exhibition of musical Darwinism, Sean’s music for the spot was selected by the company out of a number of submissions. Combining humour and heroism, this commercial pays tribute to the often stressful and difficult scenarios in which these healers find themselves. It was a ripe opportunity to pen an eclectic musical counterpoint to the scenes displayed in the advert.

Presently, this composer finds himself working on a production which again forces him to once again inject varied influences. Due for release next year, Quo Vadis 2020 mostly takes place in Italy. Goldman’s compositions in the first half of the film concentrate on Jazz (including swing and bossa nova) while the latter half is inspired by the great Neo-Romantic composers of the 19th and 20th centuries. In his work, we find Sean Goldman authentically creating the musical personalities of the old American West, recent India, and even modern day. He refers to personal inspirations in films that range from the Wizard of Oz to Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. His education at the famed Berklee College of Music vets him as both a serious composer and performer. Respect for the past and the musical contributions of many cultures while striving to create something exciting for today’s creations is the course of this acclaimed composer.

Composer Sean Goldman

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