Continued: SyncLove Q&A on the Music of "Lost in Translation"

SyncLove.com is a new channel from sync licensing and music discovery platform SyncFloor, which invites production professionals to dive into their favorite moments in films and share the scenes that changed the way they think about music for picture. With in-depth interviews, SyncLove offers good reads and intriguing insights about what works in sync, and how powerful the combination of music and picture can be.


The SyncLove guest contributor for this post is Ben Dorenfeld. Ben has worked as a music supervisor in advertising for six years. Currently, he oversees all aspects of original production and supervision as senior music producer at Anomaly. Prior to Anomaly, he produced and supervised music at Grey New York on campaigns for Volvo, Pantene, Ketel One, and more including Cannes award-winning work for both Volvo and Pantene.

Ben has chosen Lost in Translation as the film and soundtrack for discussion. He highlights the role film, TV, and games can play in music discovery and the interplay between the immersive contexts they provide and the emotional impact of music. His passion for independent, unique musical voices inspires his work.

Before we dive specifically into Lost in Translation, tell us about what pairings of music and film shaped and inspired you in your personal and professional life.

Speaking to film in particular, being a music guy, I’ve been most attracted to the music I discovered in films, and particularly films about music. I found that for me, it’s not about your traditional moment when it really impacts the scene, but about the emotional tone of the film itself. The musical films of the 90s and 2000s stand out, films like Singles, High Fidelity, Empire Records, or Almost Famous. I learned about new artists and genres through those films. But another one that stands out was The Sandlot, the soundtrack was from that era and had bands like Booker T and the M.G.s. I wasn’t listening to that era of music on my own but I got more interested in learning about it through the context of that movie. Today, Waves is going to be the movie I look back on 20 years later. Everything from the soundtrack featuring Frank Ocean, A$AP Rocky, and H.E.R. to the score by Trent Reznor/Atticus Ross, I was blown away. Everyone should see it. There are two other areas of music and sync I want to mention.

The first is TV. Growing up in the 2000s, The OC was really impactful, as it was for a good deal of my generation. More up-and-coming artists were featured in that show. There’s a really famous scene where Marissa kills Trey, Ryan’s brother. That Imogen Heap song “Hide and Seek” played in the background and I recall everyone talking about that song after the second season wrapped! Today, Insecure has that same impact on me. I want to know every song played in that show. I think its music choice is unwaveringly superb and I love listening to the soundtrack.

The second is video games, which are bigger now than ever. I played Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater in middle school and familiarized myself with all of the bands through the game, even built friendships out of shared musical interests in it. There was also Grand Theft Auto, which had radio stations in the cars and I think that was so smart. It provided a level of customization and you could expose yourself to so much music. These different contexts provide greater power for the music and vice versa.

 If you had to explain to someone from another world what Lost in Translation was about in 5 minutes, how would you?

It’s about two unsuspecting people meeting and building a bond together in a place that is foreign to both of them. What’s so amazing about it is the simplicity. It also comes with this ordinary occurrence that can happen to people. You meet someone in a new place. That’s where it brings this wonder. When I saw this movie, it’s this really natural, relatable connection, but you’re in this amazing place. It made me want to travel to Japan.

Lost in Translation might have been the moment when I decided there was a meaningful connection between music and film.

Tell us about a scene in the film where the use of music truly moved you

One that really stood out is the simple moment when Scarlett Johansson is staring out of the hotel bedroom window while the song “Tommib” by Squarepusher plays in the background. She’s staring out at a cityscape but I think the effect that this song had on that moment is profound. It’s an ordinary moment, but paired with that song, it has such emotional impact. You get the sense that she’s feeling lost and not just because she’s in a foreign country. I wanted to find out all about Squarepusher after watching the film.

Besides that, the whole movie has great music everywhere. Death in Vegas’ song “Girls” brings you into the environment and sets the stage during the opening sequence when Bill Murray is being driven into the city. And of course there’s a great cab scene that uses My Bloody Valentine’s “Sometimes”, which I learned about through that movie and is a song I love to this day.

If you could add music to the film’s soundtrack, what would you add?

20 years later, in hindsight, it’s easier to think about what might be fun to add to the soundtrack. I saw the film when I was young and at the time, I would never have thought about something being missing.

As I think about it now, I would love to hear some newer artists that can stylistically fit in with the film’s soundtrack like Yves Tumor, Elysia Crampton, and Teebs as well as Hirorshi Yoshimura whose 1986 album Green was recently reissued.

What’s something fun you’re working on now?

I can’t talk about it all, unfortunately, but we began work with a new client I’m really excited about. It’s amazing to see how people can produce great work together and continue to come up with ideas that cut through, and challenge what it means to be an ad. For a recent project, we ran creative ourselves, shot footage ourselves on our phones and stitched it together ourselves while adding the music. I’ve been excited by that. It’s fun to see people maintaining positivity and keeping their heads on their shoulders so that they can be collaborative and get work done through this.

I would never say, yes, this situation and moment in time is great! It’s challenging and I miss seeing coworkers daily. We’re not going out to shoot large-scale productions, though we’re doing our first two shoots in the next couple weeks. It’s promising and exciting to know progress is being made. It has been amazing to see, though, what's come out of this.

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