It’s hard to think of an element of filmmaking that is as simultaneously critical and hidden as music. It is the unassuming link that binds a film together from moment to moment; it is the final piece of the puzzle that makes the whole experience that much more cohesive; more emotional; more impactful. So what is the key to curating the perfect soundtrack or score? Patience? Determination? For music supervising power-duo Bruce Gilbert and Lauren Mikus, the secret to success is enjoying the work, and having the most fun as possible.
In fact, Mikus describes the perfect project as, simply: “a fun conversation,” and the approach seems to work for them: The two have overseen, both individually and as a team, music featured in an impressive catalog of films and TV shows, including, but certainly not limited to, Orange is the New Black, The Tree of Life, and Glow.
Lately, Mikus and Gilbert have tag-teamed managing music for Hulu’s cult-favorite caper Only Murders in the Building, Apple TV’s delightfully bizarre new anthology series Roar, and, of course, the breathtaking and beloved film Everything Everywhere All At Once.
A lot of Mikus and Gilbert’s job includes finding a way to build a cohesive and singular world through music. After all, a score or a soundtrack is a film or TV show’s “connective tissue,” says Mikus.
When discussing the upcoming second season of Only Murders in the Building, Gilbert emphasizes that some projects require a lot of variety, and his and Mikus’ job includes making sure that the necessary sense of cohesion is still present. “The music on [Only Murders] is everything from The Ramones to the most high-end Broadway musical to some poppier moments for Selena’s character,” he explains. He adds that because the characters are “so different from one another, we can get away with a big, brassy jazz piece here, and a gritty rock-and-roll piece here, or a cooler song here.”
If that job sounds particularly eclectic, well that’s exactly the word Gilbert would use to describe it. “For supervisors,” he says, “It’s a truly eclectic soundtrack. We get to have a lot of fun finding that stuff. Some stuff is really unexpected, and then there’s others that I think speak more to the pedigree of the show, because it feels like a show that’s so well-crafted. And the performances are so good. The directing is so good. The writing is so good. All we have to do is keep up.”