So you want to be a… music supervisor

Being a music supervisor involves much more than finding the perfect track. We spoke to Catherine Grieves – music supervisor on Killing Eve – about the demands of the job and her route into film and TV

Catherine Grieves has worked on tense TV thrillers, period dramas, comedies and award-winning feature films. Since landing a role on The Inbetweeners Movie in 2011, she has worked as a music supervisor on Killing Eve, Wolf Hall, London Spy and The Casual Vacancy, as well as Ridley Scott’s feature film The Counselor and Lynne Ramsey’s You Were Never Really Here (which features a brilliantly unsettling score by Jonny Greenwood). As part of our series on starting out, we spoke to Grieves about the process of finding music for film and TV, the challenges of the job and the skills that every music supervisor needs to have

Sandra Oh (left) as Eve and Fiona Shaw as Carolyn Martens in series 2 of Killing Eve. Image: Parisa Taghizadeh © BBC America. Lead image (top) Kim Bodnia as Konstantin (left) and Jodie Comer as Eve in series 1 of Killing Eve. Image: © BBC America
What it’s really like being a music supervisor The job of a music supervisor can encompass lots of different things, and every project is different. The music supervisor on a film or TV show is responsible for pulling the soundtrack together within budget and schedule, and finding the best way to do this creatively. This means collaborating with directors and producers to find the right songs, licensing them, co-ordinating any on-screen music and musicians, finding a score composer, putting together music personnel such as orchestrators and music editors, organising recording sessions and everything in between.

The process Each project works differently so [the process] depends what’s needed and when I’m brought on to a project. Usually the editors and directors will have temped music on to a show during the editing process, and I’ll come in and work with the director and producers, so clearing any tracks that really work and finding alternatives for tracks that don’t or that we can’t afford.

It’s always a collaborative effort. Sometimes I’ll be brought in before the shoot, so I’ll read scripts and meet with producers early on to discuss the musical direction. I’ll often make a playlist of tracks that I think could work to help creative discussions, then send folders of music to editors to work with through the edit.

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