Music in film and how it got there: Mark Mothersbaugh, Randall Poster and Richard Linklater

March 14, 2012

Tuesday at SXSW is crossover day, when Interactive and Film are winding down and Music is just revving up. As a result there are a number of sessions that don't neatly fall into any one category. Anthony Bourdain did a session on social media, Pitchfork threw a party for the Interactive conference and Mark Mothersbaugh of Devo talked about composing for television and film.

In a discussion with BMI VP Doreen Ringer-Ross, Mothersbaugh traced his career trajectory from Ohio to Pee-Wee's Playhouse to Wes Anderson's films to Yo Gabba Gabba. Though Mothersbaugh was candid and affable, the session had very little direction from Ringer-Ross, started late and included an extended reel of Mothersbaugh's film credits made in 2004 leaving little time for actual content. Still, Mothersbaugh managed to share details about his career that even some industry veterans in the room hadn't heard before. He cited his shock and outrage over the Kent State National Guard shootings in 1970 as the inspiration for the idea of "devolution."

Later Tuesday afternoon, the team behind School of Rock– director Richard Linklater and music supervisor Randall Poster– reunited for a casual conversation. The two seemed to have done almost no prep for session, but after Linklater's last minute cancellation on a similar session with Poster at SXSW 2011 it seemed organizers were just happy to get them both in the same room. To be sure, they're both very busy guys: Poster worked on Oscar favorite Hugo and recently won a Grammy for his work on Boardwalk Empire. Linklater's new film, Bernie, was awarded the Louis Black "Lone Star" Award at the SXSW Film awards on Tuesday night.

Like the Mothersbaugh session, a seasoned interviewer would have been a godsend, but the pair were charming and unpretentious, if unprepared. A few interesting points did come to light, though. They spoke a bit about their first collaboration, Suburbia, and getting an original score done by Sonic Youth. Besides the technological hassles of sharing music in the late nineties, they also said the band was difficult to wrangle.

Linklater also talked about his difficultly getting soundtracks released by record labels, even with the Dazed and Confused soundtrack going double platinum. He called music "the main character" in that film and talked about Aerosmith and Led Zepplin songs he wanted in the film, but couldn't negotiate rights for. Poster reminded him of the awkward spot Linklater's harsh words for Zepplin's management put him in when they went back to them for School of Rock a decade later.

Today the attention turns fully to music, and I'll be filming a day in the life of Jim DeRogatis at SXSW. Check out our full coverage here later in the week for that.

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