Cutting Edge Expands Film Score Business Model With Bright Eyes Members (Exclusive)

The soundtrack to “Stuck in Love,” a film that had its premiere at September’s Toronto International Film Festival, will be the first to go through the Cutting Edge Group’s new model for film music that includes score, songs and soundtrack.

Varese Sarabande, the label Cutting Edge acquired after a cash infusion from Wood Creek Capital Management, will release the soundtrack near the film’s release date of June 14. Mike Mogis and Nate Walcott of Bright Eyes wrote the score and three new songs; Bright Eyes leader Conor Oberst also contributed a new song.

Varese will release different versions of the soundtrack on vinyl, CD and digital. The vinyl edition will include the original songs, score, Bright Eyes’ “The Calendar Hung Itself,” Elliott Smith’s “Between the Bars,” and tracks by Bill Ricchini, Like Pioneers and Wallpaper Airplanes. 

The film, formerly titled “Writers,” is the directorial debut of Josh Boone, whose original script was dotted with references to Bright Eyes songs. When Cutting Edge came on board the project to finance the score, they suggested reaching out to Bright Eyes members to contribute score and song. Oberst passed, Mogis and Walcott said yes and after they got started, Oberst contributed a song.

“A lot more people are looking to break into a new artistic form,” says Cutting Edge chief executive Philip Moross, explaining the company’s strategy of reaching out to more pop and rock musicians to bring them into the film fold. “If you can give them a chance to write a score, you have a much better chance of getting them to write a song.”

The Cutting Edge model, used on more than 70 films, among them “The King’s Speech” and “Drive,” is based on the company bringing cash to the table to finance a score. In most cases, Cutting Edge attempts to double the budget allotted for music on a film. In turn, they own the master recordings and administer the publisher’s side of the copyright for secondary uses.

To date, Cutting Edge has strictly financed scores such as David Buckley’s music for Taylor Hackford’s recent “Parker.”  Cutting Edge has also financed the score for Catherine Hardwicke’s upcoming “Plush,” bringing in Nick Launay, a producer who has worked with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Gang of Four and Midnight Oil, to make his scoring debut.

“I’m really into trying to get more bands to do films,” Cutting Edge head of music Andy Ross says. “The big, sweeping John Williams score thing, which works fine for certain movies, is not really the future of these independent films.

“When the director knows the musical vision it’s so much easier to try to find him or her what they want. Producers often comment ‘what if they don’t hit the marks?’ Then I’ll bring in a composer to sit with them.”

The Boone and Mogis/Walcott experience worked well enough that Cutting Edge has already begun preliminary work on Boone’s next project, “The Pretenders.” That script is filled with Sun Kil Moon references and they have already reached out to the band’s mastermind, Mark Kozelek.

Cutting Edge’s first step into financing songs came with Diane Warren’s “Unfinished Songs,” which Celine Dion sings over the end credits of the Weinstein Co.’s “Song for Marion.” It is targeted for a June 21 release.

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