A Chat With Twilight Music Supervisor Alexandra Patsavas
Ever wonder how to land a job in music supervision? We asked Alexandra Patsavas, whose worked on Mad Men, Grey’s Anatomy, and the massively popular Twilight series, and also runs the indie rock label Chop Shop Records (Anya Marina, The Republic Tigers).
Did you make a lot of mix tapes when you were younger?
Indeed… for every occasion. I am still at it, now just professionally.
Are you a musician yourself?
Just a hobbyist. I sang in choirs and played a bit of piano and clarinet.
How did you break into the music supervising business — what were you doing before?
I have been music supervising most of my career, initially as a coordinator at Concorde Films in 1995. Prior to that, I worked as a college promoter, specializing in alternative booking in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, an agent trainee and in the Film and Television department at BMI.
How do people break in now – is it any different?
Although a much more difficult field to get started in as A + R opportunities are on the wane, the actual “breaking in” remains the same — interning/assisting at a music supervision company, network or studio.
Do you have a mentor or someone you look up to the most in the music supervision business?
I learned so much from the first music supervisor I worked for, Paul Di Franco. He was an incredibly generous boss.
How much music listening do you in a typical month to scout for new songs?
Quite a bit. I have always been extremely interested in unsigned indie artists and I am always on the lookout for Chop Shop Records as well.
What are the qualities that makes a song appropriate for film or TV?
An interesting lyric, a memorable vocal line –- the ability to tell/sell a moment with sounds.
Have you experienced much Twilight mania first hand?
Yes, I have been to quite a few of the pre-release events over the years, especially if soundtrack artists are involved. It is a privilege to work on a project with a positive and enthusiastic fan base.
What were some of the trials and tribulations of putting the latest Twilight soundtrack together?
Only the masses of excellent (and unreleased) submissions we get at the Chop Shop offices for each film. Scores of truly memorable tracks and only 15-20 places in the movie. It was really wonderful working with Bill Condon – I am eagerly awaiting Breaking Dawn 2.
What have you learned from the success of Twilight over the years?
We tend to select a mix of established and respected alternative artists and performers that are less known but always the song that is selected is the best to tell the story. I do believe that is why these OST’s connect so strongly with the audience. They are hearing the songs for the first time, certainly and often are experiencing the bands for the first time as they watch the film. Heady stuff.
With synchronicity of music and film, such as The Wizard of Oz and Dark Side of the Moon — is it just coincidence, or cosmic coincidence?
Coincidence helped by, certain um, mind expanders so to speak.
What’s next for you?
Looking forward to films Breaking Dawn 2, Perks of Being A Wallflower and Fun Size as well as the TV I love working on.