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Interview with Music Supervisor Frankie Pine
On The Music Beat
The Ins and Outs of Music Placement in Movies and TV Series
Featuring: Frankie Pine
Music Supervisor/Consultant – Whirly Girl Music
By Frances and Harry Date – Song Matchmakers Network
Music Supervisor Frankie Pine has been instrumental in putting together memorable arrangements on a variety of film and television projects. Among her many qualities, one could say it is her versatility that has made her a success.
During her career, she has overseen the music featured in such diverse films as “Nurse Betty,” “Kinsey,” “The Toothfairy,” and “The Santa Clause 2 & 3.” She has also had the opportunity to supervise several successful television series including “Brothers and Sisters,” “Army Wives,” “Hung,” “Body of Proof,” and “GCB.” In addition to her television background, she also served as music consultant on Steven Soderbergh’s films “Ocean’s 11, 12 and 13” as well as the Academy Award-winning “Traffic.” Recently Frankie was the Music Supervisor on the box office smash “Magic Mike.”
Pine currently works under her banner of Whirly Girl Music. With Pine as the founder and musical matriarch, Whirly Girl has earned an extensive list of acclaimed film and television credits.
Awards include a Grammy nomination for the “Traffic” soundtrack and an RIAA Certified Gold Record for “How To Be A Player.”
1. SMN: Frankie, we’d like to review your background as an introduction to your career for our readers: You grew up in a family of musicians, played piano, sang, and wanted to be the next big dance star of the ‘80s. You knew at a young age that you wanted to do something in music and promote music in some way. You got started when you were living in Orlando, working for the Mickey Mouse Club TV show, helping the music coordinator for the show, picking the bands for Music Day for the Mickey Mouse Club.
You saved your money, moved to New York, and got a job with Polygram, licensing out Polygram material for television clients. Then you were offered the chance to move to Los Angeles, by a client of yours, Dawn Soler. She had just gotten the Head of Music position at Polygram film. So you actually just transferred from Polygram Records to Polygram Film. Does that briefly summarize how it all started and how did that lead to Whirly Girl Music?
FP: Well, that’s how it all went down. The conversation with Dawn was actually very interesting because though she was one of my clients, I believe I had only met her once. She called me up, and we, of course, were talking about some kind of business thing she was working on, but then she said, “Would you want to move to Los Angeles. I said, “yeah sure, what would I be doing,” and she said, “Whatever you want.” I said, “Oh that sounds like a good job, I’ll take it.” So, low and behold, I just transferred everything from the record side to the film side. We’ve had an incredible working relationship ever since.
Whirly Girl came about when Universal Pictures ended up buying Polygram Films, and it was one of those things where everyone got laid off. Dawn went back to her roots of independent music supervision, and since I was just starting out as an independent music supervisor, it was then that I founded Whirly Girl.
2. SMN: Who assists you at Whirly Girl Music what are their duties and responsibilities?
FP: Mandi Collier is my lifesaver and right hand. She’s my music coordinator. She is responsible for pretty much all the clearances for the songs for our television shows and films. She even cleared for the soundtrack album for Magic Mike. She basically listens to songs that are submitted and then helps me pick songs for our projects. She filters songs for me, saying ,“Hey check this song out, what do you think of this,” so everything kind of filters through her and then eventually gets to me.
SMN: Boy it sounds like a gem to have somebody like that.
FP: Yeah, I mean she is. I’ve got to tell you that they’re very hard to find, and Mandi is one of the best.
SMN: She’s very pleasant to work with, I must say.
FP: Oh, good, I’m glad to hear that.
3. SMN: You are both a music consultant and a music supervisor. What are the similarities, and how do they differ in movie and TV production?
FP: A music consultant is more someone that is there to advise. A supervisor is more nuts and bolts; it’s being involved in the daily grind, on-set, and in the post-production process of the film or television project.
So consulting is more like on Oceans. I was there basically to oversee what the composer was doing and to clear all of the music, and made suggestions only if we needed to replace something. A supervisor’s job is far more involved than a music consultant.
4. SMN: Your list of credits is very impressive. How do you get your clients as an independent music supervisor and/or music consultant?
FP: Everything happens by word of mouth and because of relationships. I have a relationship with one producer, he knows somebody - it’s all about recommendations. I also have an agent that puts my credits in front of people for pictures where I might not already have a relationship with someone. So really, it’s a big song and dance, just like everything else is.
5. SMN: Who participates in the decisions on which scenes should have music in them, and what part do you play in that decision?
FP: I’m very involved in that. On the TV shows that I’m working on, I can go through a script and say, “here is where I think we’re going to need a song.” Then once you actually visually see how the scenes are cut together, those initial ideas may change, but then you sit down and have a “spotting session” with the producers, the composer, and the music supervisor to make final choices. You watch the show together, and one person will say “it would be a really great idea if we try a song here” or “maybe we try to write a song here.” All of that is determined in a spotting session.
6. SMN: How is the decision made on what genre, vibe, instrumental or vocal is needed in a scene?
FP: I kind of feel like that starts from the first time I read the script. When I first read the script for Brothers and Sisters, I knew that the general feel would be more of a songwriter vein and not a lot of pop or pop/rock music. It just didn’t have the feel for that genre.
I did one movie for HBO, and once I read the script, I had a meeting with the director. It was called Normal. When I first read it, I very much wanted to incorporate a fifties kind of take on the music, even though it was set in present day. I really wanted to believe that the people involved in this incredible life’s story were very innocent and that everything was kind of a new experience for them. I liked that kind of Patty Page vibe - very easy and innocent. We wanted the songs to project that feel of their world.
7. SMN: Can you generalize about what particular attributes of a song make it useful for a film or TV show?
FP: I think every film and TV show is different, and they do call for different things. If I’m working on, let’s say Body of Proof, which is a procedural crime show, I’m not going to use a lot of country music, unless by chance, we have a tailored episode that takes place in the south, for example. I think every show kind of has its own type of signature sound, and it’s not often that you get to mix a lot of different things. If it’s a hip-hop movie, guess what, it’s probably going to have hip-hop music. If it’s Rock of Ages, it’s probably going to be more of a rock thing. Magic Mike turned out to have an indie rock kind of feel. As soon as you read a script, you start to get an idea of what the story is really about and the kind of songs it will need.
8. SMN: What subjects and moods recur in TV episodes and movies more often than others; for example, party scenes, bar scenes, and breakup scenes. Can you generalize on the shows you are working on, on what might come up more often?
FP: In Army Wives, there is always a montage of the soldiers leaving as they are being sent over for tour. The songs are always very poignant and heartfelt and have themes about family, home, and/or love. Basically, our goal is to make the audience cry when they see the cast members going to Afghanistan, etc.
Brothers and Sisters worked with the same kind of idea. It had a lot of montages where we could create a musical melody that allowed us to be a little bit more creative in coming up with something that was more pertinent to the story.
9. SMN: Many times we see listings for a movie or TV show that will say something like “temp song to replace Black Eyed Peas ‘I Got a Feelin.’” Would you say they are looking for the same vibe and lyric content? Should the vocal also be the same gender as the temp song?
No, I don’t think so; I think if someone is sending out a request like that, they just want a song that is maybe a feel good song, something with a similar message and feel. When you’re trying to replace a temp song, the alt doesn’t need to have the same pattern; it just needs to be or kind of have that same vibe as the song that they are trying to replace.
10. SMN: How do you find music for shows and movies? Do you send out a song search for the scene you’re working on to known sources? If yes, how would someone get on that list?
I actually do not send out any kind of lists or anything like that. I have certain music publisher people that I reach out to, but typically it’s just going through the things that I’ve received - just things I have and things that I like.
At the beginning of every season, I always create a compilation of brand new, groovy songs that I’ve been liking - ones that I think would work for the project. I send out the compilation when a show is coming up, or even when they are just writing the episodes - before we’ve even shot anything.
11. SMN: How do you like to work with publishers, writers, artists, and bands, and how do you like to receive submissions? Are you a CD person or a digital person?
I’ll take both; I’ll tell you, I still love a CD. I still love reading the J-card information - where it was recorded and who produced it, things like that. I find all of that stuff really interesting. When I was growing up, I was definitely the girl laying in my bedroom on my bean bag chair for hours, reading all the liner notes from start to finish.
SMN: (laughter) You must be up very late doing all of that.
FP: Now I’ve got the hang of it.
12. SMN: Song Clearance is extremely important. What steps should someone take to pre-clear a song before even submitting it to you.
FP: I think they need to know the writers and know if it is a demo or a master. I think just making sure you have as much information as you can possibly send is best, and most importantly, putting all of that in the metadata. When you are burning the CD, make sure that it says “master-owner” and “publishing is owned by so-and-so”. If that info is included, it makes it easy for me to find who I need to quickly. I may have heard something six months ago and find that I want to use it now, and I can’t remember if it was a demo or if it was a CD, or where it came from. If there is no info in the metadata, then guess what, I can’t use it.
13. SMN: How do you categorize music in your database so you can easily find what you want?
FP: That’s one of my favorite things to do. I am a period person. I have an entire wall of CDs still, and my categorizing is by decade - thirties, forties, fifties, etc. I also have subcategories within that decade. I have like 80’s funk, I have 80’s R&B, I have 80’s new wave, I have 80’s hair bands. I have 70’s pop, whatever. I love older music and Ii’s interesting having all those CDs.. For newer music that is submitted, I organize by creating playlists for each show and then even go further by making playlists for each episode or character or scene. I start dragging songs into those playlists in my iTunes, and then they get uploaded to my producers.
14. SMN: The 2012 Fall season for the new TV lineup is available on the TV networks’ websites. How would someone find out who the Music Supervisors are for an existing or new show?
Just make some calls. Call the production offices and get whatever information you can get out of the Hollywood Reporter. It comes out on Wednesdays, and they list all of the films and television shows that are in production. They also list the telephone numbers for the production office.
I think if you are an artist, songwriter, or a publisher, you’ve got to do your homework and dig to get the right information. It’s readily available to you just by making a few phone calls. Pursue, pursue! IMDb lists the production companies. It is a good site to use, and it can be pretty inexpensive to get the Pro version of it.
15. SMN: When a song is played in the background, for a bar scene for example, do you look for that song in a music library or do you take that from your CDs or your regular sources?
FP: Depends on the budget, and it depends on how important that song use is for that particular scene. For example, if it is just a background song in a bar that you are barely going to hear, I’m not going to spend high dollar for it. I kind of call it wallpaper music; it helps to fill the moment. I’m going to budget less for that and will probably go to a music library for those ideas. I’m going to spend more money on a feature use or a montage instead.
16. SMN: We’ve heard it said by music supervisors that one should not pitch “on the nose,” meaning if you’re pitching for a wedding scene, don’t pitch a wedding song. If you were placing a song in this scene, what music /subject would you look for?
FP: I would pitch a song about love, but not necessarily about marriage or a wedding day specifically. We go through that all the time on Army Wives. The show is really more about the wives of soldiers and what they go through when their husbands or wives leave for their tour of duty. I am careful to not pitch songs about leaving or more specifically war, but rather ones about friendships and love.
17. SMN: You were the Music Supervisor on Steven Soderbergh’s box office hit Magic Mike. One reviewer said this about the sound track from the movie: “Music supervisor Frankie Pine, who's worked previously with Steven Soderbergh on Traffic & Ocean's 11, 12 & 13 had the pleasure of getting to select the perfect tracks for an all male revue while balancing it with music that will help move forward the romantic story line and character arc for Channing Tatum's character.
They’re the perfect song choices with Win Win asking "Can't somebody tell me how did I become a victim of society?" Frankie, how were the decisions made to choose those songs and others in the film?
FP: Who quoted that, where was that? From Variety? Oh wow, hey, that’s nice.
I knew when I first started working on the film that the songs for the dance numbers not only needed to be fun, but also ones that could have a visual content to them. As for the other songs in the film, I knew that because there was not going to be a composer, somehow the music had to help tell the story. Some of the songs had to have that underlying, I want to say emotion, but I’m not sure that is the right word. When I started sending music for the film, I just put together playlists of my favorite indie songs that are fun, interesting, and different. Steven then did a phenomenal job in putting them in the right places.
18. SMN: It must have been fun to be on the set while shooting with actors like Channing Tatum, Matthew McConaughey, Matt Bomer, Joe Manganiello and Alex Pettyfer. Do you have a favorite story that you want to share about that?
Obviously it was amazing being on-set because they were naked. (laughter on both sides) I mean, there’s nothing wrong looking at that. (laughter on both sides) I think my favorite story is this: Matthew McConaughey wanted to sing to the ladies. That was so appealing to me, so I said, “Alright, how do you want to do this? What are you thinking about doing?” He said, “I want to come out with a guitar and I have this idea of doing a song with an emotional kind of thing. Then I want to smash the guitar and then go into the dance.” So I was like, “okay.” (laughter on both sides) And he said, “So is Steven cool with that? Do what you got to do, Frankie.”
So I go to Matthew McConaughey’s hotel room, and, of course, I’m very excited . I’m getting to meet Matthew McConaughey for the first time. We sit down in this little courtyard area, I bring my guitar coach with me, and the three of us wrote his song together. It was just an amazing experience. We recorded him in a studio and used that. It ended up on the soundtrack album.
SMN: Oh fantastic, that’s great. We plan on seeing that movie this weekend. What song is it so we know to look for it.
FP: Oh you can’t miss it. As it starts, you only hear Matthew’s vocal, then you visually see him. After he’s finished singing his song, his dance number kicks in and you see him dancing to “Calling Dr. Love” by KISS. He does a fire breathing thing and then smashes the guitar, then it goes right into the KISS song. It’s pretty amazing. I think they have part of that on the trailer.
19. SMN: What other projects will you be working on this year?
I’m starting on Body of Proof, which is coming back for its third season. We are just finishing up Army Wives right now, and I have heard that we will be coming back for another season, I think. We are starting the new show Nashville, which has been a very busy project for me.
SMN: I’ll tell you, our town is very excited about it; there is so much chattering going around about Nashville coming to town. .
FP: Yes this is going to be a big one, we’re very excited about it. Everybody’s been great to work with, trying to find the music and stuff. I’m so thrilled that everybody’s been so agreeable.
20. This article will be appear on the websites of AIMP (Association of Independent Music Publishers, NSAI (Nashville Songwriters Association International) and our Song Matchmakers website. If you could sum it up in a few words, what advice would you give to publishers and songwriters/artists who want to place their songs in movies and T.V.?
FP: I would say do your homework about their work and current projects, and then try to form real relationships with the people you’re sending music to.
21. SMN: How can we make your job easier?
Obviously, just send as much information as you can about the songs you pitch. The clearance process is the single most important part of the job, and making that process easier for us by getting back to us quickly is a huge help. Things like that – being frank and saying, “yes, you can have it for this, but no you can’t have it for that”. Quick, honest answers make our job a lot easier.
22. SMN: Is there a question we should have asked but didn’t?
I think you’ve covered it. To sum it up, I think this business is mainly about relationships. Establish good relationships with people. That’s really the most important thing.
SMN: Thank you Frankie for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk with us.
Frances and Harry Date are Song Matchmakers Network – a boutique one stop music publisher, music licensing, and production company. Have a question you’d like us to ask or a person you’d like us to interview? Send them to SongMatchmakersquestions@gmail.com.
For more information about us, see our website SongMatchmakersNetwork.com.