Advice for film makers

Why is it that when you watch a short film there’s a pretty good chance it will have plinky minimalist xylophone music running through it?

You know – it can’t quite decide whether it’s comic or tense, so just sort of picks its way along going “plink – plinky plink plink – plink plink” with a slightly artificial sound and a lot of reverb.

Perhaps there’s just a lot of royalty-free minimalist xylophone music out there. Perhaps half the people composing for films secretly wish they were Philip Glass. Perhaps it’s meant to be alienating. Either way, I wonder if it is one of the key reasons why short films are not taken more seriously.

Apart from anything else it means they all feel exactly the same. You hear the plinky xylophone music begin and think, “ah, it’s an arty short film” – and unless you’re very patient, you turn it off.

I love short films, and even I sometimes turn them off when the plinky xylophone music begins.

If I were to add to the millions of websites giving advice about “making your short” (which I have no intention of doing), my first point would be “don’t use plinky minimalist xylophone music, you might ruin an otherwise excellent piece of film”.

That said, if I were giving advice to Hollywood film makers I’d have similar things to say about Howard Shore and James Horner, but I don’t suppose anybody would take any notice of me.

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