Musicians Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross have scored a number of live-action films, but the experience of scoring Pixar's Soul proved to bring with it some unexpected changes, which includes key components of the story being drastically changed while they were crafting music for those scenes, as they revealed that they wrote enough music for the project that it would have been enough for six different films. With a live-action film, however, you rarely get the opportunity to entirely overhaul scenes after you've shot them, while animated endeavors can see entire characters cut or added, yet this process is all done in service of telling the best story possible.
"There's a childlike enthusiasm and positivity and openness, where quite frequently during the process, we would start working with very rough animated storylines that do a surprisingly good job of conveying watching the film, with temp voice acting and temp music, and you get a real sense of what the picture's going to be like," Reznor shared with Consequence of Sound. "And they'll show an animatic to the entire team, and I mean hundreds of people and [writer/director] Pete Docter would sit for three hours and listen to every comment. 'Did you like this? Did you like that? That makes sense. Fill up this part.' And two months later, there's a movie that might have a radically different ending or middle or new character that comes into the meeting. And that's kind of the fluid process that there might not be later on if you were filming actors on a set."
He added, "What that meant for us was, we scored about six different movies. As we started early on, it's like, 'I can't wait to see this character' … that doesn't exist because he's not even in the film anymore. Or this expansive moment where you're watching a beautiful scene for a minute and a half, which is now three seconds, because a joke popped up, and now it's a different thing. So, I think we started a lot earlier last time than we would in the future. But it was fascinating to see the process. And I remember as we were getting into it, they could say, 'Let's see. Trust the process. We've come up with a way to do this.' And I don't mean a factory assembly line, but a strategy of openness and collaboration between not just two or three or four or five people but possibly lots of people."
With nearly 250 reviews, Soul sits at 95% positive on aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes, with the film being praised for a number of components. Given that Reznor and Ross have crafted scores for films with more mature subject matter, a number of reviews have specifically noted how much their music elevates the experience to make it all the more effective.
Whether audiences will ever see any of the scenes or sequences that didn't make the final cut, it might be too early to tell.
Soul is currently streaming on Disney+.
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