When Mark Crawford started working on the recent Netflix documentary “The Social Dilemma”, he originally only worked as a sound recorder for the film. âAt first, I had no expectations of becoming the songwriter,â he tells us in our recent online chat (watch the video above). During the recording he would think about what kind of music to put with the film, sketch out some ideas and send them to Davis coombe, the film’s editor, who put them in some of the scenes that caught the director’s attention, Jeff Orlowski. âHe kind of stopped and said, ‘Who made this piece? And it always came back to me a bit and so that’s where the first initial discussions took place.
âThe Social Dilemma,â currently airing on Netflix, examines how social media platforms depend on enticing people to consume content through their products. The film delves into how this business model has had a toxic effect on society as well as the mental well-being of users of the platform. The documentary has garnered seven Emmy nominations this year, including one for Best Documentary or Documentary Special, as well as Crawford’s first career nomination for Best Documentary Music.
Crawford’s favorite part of composing the music for the film was playing with various synthesizers, starting with a modular surge synthesizer. “It’s a rudimentary synth that has a bunch of wires and buttons and it’s more about playing and typing numbers and seeing what sounds right.” Through his experimentation with electronic sounds, he was able to focus on the theme he wanted to focus on in the score. âIt was really trying to find that emitting sound of the beast from that weird electronic instrument. It was just super fun.
The film’s structure, which combines a standard documentary with a side story that explores how social media affects a family, proved difficult, at first, for Crawford to score. “What we encountered was to focus on this aspect of the dilemma where there is the narrative world against the documentary world, the humans against the computers, all these types of couples who seemed more ripe for a musical idea. . ” He achieved this by scoring the opening parts with the family in a traditional acoustic orchestration. When family members are sucked into social media, the score takes a drastic turn using synthesizers. “As the film progresses the music starts to crumble and the computers start to take over, almost as if they were occupying the pilot’s seat for the second half of the film in the scoring.”
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