Richard Glasser is the Film & Television Music Executive for The Weinstein Company (current credits in interview below). He was previously at The Yari Group.
Glasser has served as music supervisor for major motion pictures including the film Crash, which received the Academy Award for Best Picture. His supervision credits also include Hostage, starring Bruce Willis; Painted Veil, starring Naomi Watts; The Illusionist; Kickin’ It Old Skool, starring Jamie Kennedy; First Snow, starring Guy Pearce; Gray Matters, starring Heather Graham; Find Me Guilty, starring Vin Diesel; and Even Money, starring Danny DeVito. A former Motown recording artist, Glasser has also enjoyed a successful career as a composer and songwriter. He has scored several films, including, Poolhall Junkies. His songs have been recorded by some of the music industry’s top artists.
JR: First of all, congratulations on your position at the Weinstein Company. How long have you been there now?
RG: I’ve actually been with the company a little over a year.
JR: What are the latest credits and projects that you are working on now?
RG: We did “The Kings Speech”, “Scream 4”, “Hoodwinked 2”, “Submarine”, we’re getting ready to release a film called “Sarah’s Key.” We’re going to release another film in August called “Dirty Girl”, “Spy Kids 4”, also in August. Then “Our Idiot Brother,” “Apollo 18”, “I Don’t Know How She Does It” (which is a Sarah Jessica Parker film) and much more.
JR: That’s fantastic. What has been the overall challenge working over at the Weinstein Company?
RG: I’ve been trying to build a music library from their existing material, and organizing it so that we can license out to third parties. We have some songs — but the majority is score.
JR: So the Weinstein is actually creating it’s own library?
RG: We have created the Weinstein Music Library and it has the full library of films where we control master and sync. We’ve been doing fairly well with licensing it for commercials, trailers, and other movies. Some of our cues from films have been in some other movies. It’s been fairly successful.
JR: That’s great Richard, I had no idea the company was doing that. What inspired the company to take this direction?
RG: Well, when I first approached the company I wanted to build them a library because they knew in my past jobs at other companies I had built libraries that had been successful and made money. So, they were really interested in taking stuff that has been sitting and collecting dust and turn it into revenue.
JR: That makes sense, another income stream that a production company could be taking advantage of.
JR: But you still are obviously going out to other sources when needed?
RG: Yes, we’re using our library a lot for our DVDs and menus. We continue using other companies and other submissions for all our films.
JR: As a music supervisor are you finding that there is a greater appreciation for what the music contributes to the overall success of the show?
RG: Absolutely. I think music is an essential part of any film. I think it drives the film, I think lyrically, when you put in music for a montage, or an opening or closing title that’s written for the particular film, it adds greatly to building the impact of that film.
JR: I think because of how much music has started driving television, a lot of Hollywood filmmakers are thinking “let’s feature music a bit more” — make it more of a character in the film and perhaps even draw another revenue stream through the soundtrack.
RG: Absolutely, and you look at TV programs like “Glee” and “The Voice” and those kind of shows that are finding fresh new talent and also driving sales and Youtube and iTunes. Everyone is making money off of that.
JR: What is your favorite moment in the process of supervising? Is it the spotting, the editing phase, the licensing, or even the premiere when it’s all done and you’re sitting there watching how the music works with the film?
RG: The most exciting time for me is when I first meet the directors and producers. We see the raw footage that we’re going to take, and then watch it grow into something that becomes beautiful and artistic. When you see the finished product you realize: “Wow, it started here and went to there.”
JR: How do you deal with the situation when you have a limited budget for music, and the director really wants some very big copyrights that aren’t cheap. How do you work that with a lower budget?
RG: You have the initial budget, and then I think it’s a matter of compromise. A lot of times the director wants a piece and the studio says no, they’re paying too much money or they’re over budget. So the director gets this particular piece in, but then you get three other cues that are really good that he likes but aren’t as big. So it’s always a negotiation — it’s just working it out. That’s one of the big issues — it would be great if we could just spend whatever we wanted to, but it doesn’t work that way.
JR: So, have you been using step deals as a solution?
RG: We don’t normally like to do step deals because it gets complicated, and we try to shy away from that. Since I’ve been here with the Weinstein Company, I haven’t seen one step deal yet.
JR: How about soundtrack album release. Is that more common or less common? How often does that come up now?
RG: I’m very lucky that I have really good relationships with the presidents of soundtrack labels. So we’ve been getting soundtrack releases and really promoting physical product when everything is going digital.
JR: Can you give me a quick wrap up on how you got into this business? How did Richard Glasser become a music supervisor working on great movies?
RG: Well, I started off as a Motown recording artist, so I think I came up the ranks a little different than most executives. I was a songwriter, composer, so I understood the recording artist — I knew that line of work. Then I became a composer for films and television, and did supervision as well. Then I started going into companies as an executive and started building catalogs. So it’s been an interesting career for me because I really understand how to talk to a songwriter and a composer. I think that really helps because I was in their position and I know what they’re going through.
JR: You can speak to them in real terms about what’s happening in the studio, what you’re looking for vocally and track wise.
RG: Yes, or putting the musicians together, guiding what kind of instrumentation they’re going to use. It’s just a really great thing to see that, especially when you get a young composer who’s kind of new. He goes into a spotting session and I’m there to guide him. I’ve done that in a couple of movies already.
JR: I see. If you had any advice for someone who is interested in becoming a music supervisor or working as a music executive at a film/tv company, what would that be?
RG: When I speak at seminars or when I speak at film conferences, or festivals, I always tell any kind of new supervisor — go to film festivals and meet those directors and producers who are going to be the directors and producers of the future. Hang out, tell them what you do. Go in there and find a film they’re working on that’s a short film. Get in there and work with them clearing the music, showing them what you can do — because if that person is going to become big – they’re gonna take you along with them.
JR: It really is about establishing those relationships where you worked successfully even on a lower, no budget film and as their career moved, your career will move as well.
RG: Yes. If you look back at a lot of filmmakers, you’ll see they started as either music video editors, or music video directors — and all of a sudden they started doing big films. So I guarantee whoever helped them at that lower level — I bet you they’re still working with them.
JR: Definitely. Is there anything else you would like to add about what you’re doing now that you would like people to know?
RG: We’re working on finishing the “Project Runway” music library from all eight years. We own that show on television, and so I developed a library featuring electronic music. I put selections together that are going out for licensing on other projects.
JR: That’s fantastic. Well that’s great Richard, I really appreciate it. We just did a really nice interview with Chris Mollere, so this will be up soon.
RG: Chris is a great guy
JR: Yeah, he’s one of the brightest young stars in the world of music supervisors.
RG: I agree!
JR: Alright well thank you Richard!