• March 2013

Composer Joel Goodman, on Scoring "MAKERS: Women Who Make America"

By Joel Goodman

One of my favorite things about composing music for motion pictures—aside from writing the music of course—is the opportunity to establish a unique emotional connection with the subject matter.

Documentary films in particular can provide a very tangible cause for sympathetic reaction—the “human element,” if you will—and often the reality of these stories serves to inspire me on a more personal level.

With the added benefit of context and insight from the filmmakers themselves, who have often spent years working alongside their subjects before I enter the picture, I am trusted with a unique set of tools to convey the emotions and inspirations behind these realities through music.

This process is both a joy and privilege.

Most recently, I had the pleasure of writing music for PBS’s MAKERS: Women Who Make America.

It made its debut on Tuesday, Feb. 26 on PBS. Produced by filmmakers Dyllan McGee, Betsy West, and Peter Kunhardt, and developed by AOL, the documentary showcases hundreds of compelling stories from such notable women as Oprah Winfrey, Erin Brokovitch, Alice Walker, Dr. Ruth Westheimer, Rita Mae Brown, and more. Learn more on MAKERS.com.

This film tells the story of the women’s movement through personal accounts of the leaders, opponents, and trailblazers who created a new America in the last half-century, and is part of a historic video initiative from AOL and PBS.

As a father of all girls, a supporter of social justice, and someone who remembers many of these events firsthand, the film certainly speaks to me on several levels. So when director Barak Goodman came to me with the project, saying “yes” was a no-brainer.

Aside from wanting to work with Barak again (we have collaborated on several films together), I knew this project had the potential to make a positive impact on many generations of people, not only by documenting so many of the important social milestones that occurred for those who remember, but also by inspiring younger generations to carry on in the same tradition.

Musically speaking, the score really serves to support two overarching themes—the movement’s triumphs, and its struggles.

Given the large-scale scope of the subject matter, many of the stories and events speak for themselves, making the music more about enhancing the circumstances being portrayed rather than leading the viewer to desired emotional conclusions.

By establishing a handful of musical themes and associating them with their corresponding and recurring narrative themes, it was my goal to supplement, not dictate, the movement’s reactions to the series of events that took place, and I think the end result does a nice job of finding this balance.

It’s very inspiring to be a part of any project with social significance, especially those that showcase the positive evolution of people and culture. I am honored and very proud to be a part of the incredible project that is MAKERS, and hope you enjoy both the music and the film.

Listen to the music from MAKERS here.

About Joel Goodman

Joel Goodman is an Emmy-winning composer who has written music for more than 100 films. His work has appeared at every major film festival in the world and collaborated with an impressive array of distinguished directors and producers including Wong Kar-wei, Kevin Spacey, and Albert Maysles.

His recent projects include: “Being Elmo,” the heartfelt and crowd-pleasing film about the man behind the muppet; “Clinton,” a four-hour documentary about the 42nd president; the main theme for the long-running and critically acclaimed PBS series “American Experience”; and “Which Way is the Front Line from Here? The Life and Time of Tim Hetherington,” Sebastian Junger’s follow up to the Oscar-nominated film “Restrepo,” premiering at the Sundance Film Festival in 2013.

Prior to scoring films, Goodman composed music for advertising and produced records. He currently conducts university master classes in the United States and Europe, is a regular panelist for such organizations as ASCAP, IFP, AFI, and SCL, and he currently serves on the board of the Production Music Association, where he chairs the Technology Committee.

Click here to read our interview with Goodman about founding MusicBox.

To learn more about his work, visit his website, www.joelgoodman.com.