Linkin Park's Mike Shinoda, Tears for Fears' Curt Smith, Ex-RHCP Cliff Martinez Talk 'Out of the Band and Onto the Screen' @ Billboard Film & TV Conf.
Linkin Park's Mike Shinoda, Tears for Fears' Curt Smith, Ex-RHCP Cliff Martinez Talk 'Out of the Band and Onto the Screen' @ Billboard Film & TV Conf.

From Stage to Screen: The "Out of the Band and Onto the Screen" panel (from left): Phil Galllo, Senior Correspondent, Billboard; Peter Himmelman, Musician; Cliff Martinez, Composer, "Drive;" J. Ralph Songwriter, Composer, Singer, Producer; Mike Shinoda, Linkin Park; Curt Smith, Co-founder, Tears For Fears; Joe Trapanese, Composer; Mervyn Warren, Composer, Producer, Songwriter, Co-Founder of Take 6; moderator Robert Kraft, President, Music, 20th Century Fox. (Photo: Arnold Turner)

HOLLYWOOD, California - Not every great actor can become a great director and not every rock star is cutout be a film composer.

Mike Shinoda (Linkin Park), Curt Smith (Tears For Fears) and Cliff Martinez (ex-Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Dickies) are a few of the musicians in possession of the unique temperament, artistic outlook and skill sets necessary to crossover from the soundtrack to the score. They were among the musicians assembled for the "Out of the Band and Onto the Screen" panel at Billboard / The Hollywood Reporter's Film and TV Music Conference on Monday at Hollywood's Renaissance Hotel, moderated by 20th Century Fox Music President Robert Kraft.

Martinez joked that it was the Red Hot Chili Peppers infamous "sock" band photo (where the members all appeared wearing nothing but socks over their private parts) that set him on his current career path. "The sock is what made me make the move from the world of rock to the world of movies," he deadpanned. "I kept trying to visualize myself at the age of 40, 50, 60, walking out on stage with the sock."

The Folly/Genius of Youth: It was the cover of the Red Hot Chili Peppers "The Abbey Road EP" from 1988 (above) that motivated Cliff Martinez (left) to get into film scoring. (Photo: Getty Images)

More specifically, Martinez was asked by a friend to do some sound design for the film "Alien Nation." The weird sounds he created were never used, however, his friend's roommate really dug what he heard and ended up asking Martinez to work on his debut feature. That fledgling filmmaker was named Stephen Soderbergh and the film was "Sex, Lies & Videotape." "He was very sharp, very articulate and his dramatic instincts were excellent," Martinez said of the acclaimed filmmaker, with whom he worked again on this year's "Contagion."

"A Walk to Remember" composer Mervyn Warren said he's had movie music in his bones for as long as he can remember. "People know me from Take 6 so they think of me as a singer, but long before I ever sang, I was at the piano. I would play along with the TV. As a kid, I said, 'I want to write for movies.' When I finally had that opportunity it was like I was able to exhale. 'Wow, I'm finally doing this for real.'"

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The panel spoke quite a bit about the differences between making records and making movies. "When you're writing songs for yourself, as all artists do, it's about 'me.' It's about what you feel and your emotions. You're trying to get something out of your system about your experiences," noted Smith, who co-wrote the score for this year's "Meth Head," starring Lukas Haas. "When you're writing for a movie, you're trying to capture the emotion of a scene. I find it a fascinating process."

Linkin Park rapper Shinoda (whose talents also include guitar, piano, keyboards and more) has been working on the score for an upcoming film called "The Raid" with fellow panelist Joe Trapanese, who recently collaborated with Daft Punk on "Tron: Legacy." The pair have been trading files back and forth, often taking each other's unfinished ideas across the finish line. "I'm really comfortable working at home," said Shinoda, who often works on ideas on the go, too. "We'll swap semi finished files, we'll swap unfinished files."

Smith said he was inspired to get into movies by Thomas Newman's score for "American Beauty" and Air's work in "The Virgin Suicides." "The music really moved me and it wasn't orchestral. That was the thing that got me into thinking, 'God, this would be so exciting to do.'"

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The band guys on the panel all seemed to agree that learning to work alongside a film director or producer isn't too dissimilar from working with other members in a rock group setting. "I went to school for illustration," Shinoda explained. "We would each put our stuff up on the board and [offer hours of criticism about each other's pieces]. Over the course of the years of doing that, you get good at it. You get really good at being able to take criticism and give criticism and leave your ego at the door and just go in and be productive."

"That's how [Linkin Park] works," he added. "We've got six guys doing that. Every Monday we get together with our records. That's the reason why it takes us over a year to make a record. We're killing ideas one after the other and building up new ones based on even if one guy in our group doesn't like it for one reason or another, we're gonna get in there and figure out what it is about it that he's not into. And we're going to respect that, even if he can't write the piece that we're talking about, his opinion is one sixth potentially of our fanbase."

Kraft was suitably impressed by Shinoda's attitude and said he foresees a long career in film composing for him as a result. "Mike just articulated 'Out of the Band and Onto the Screen': Working in a band prepares you in a way for the collaboration of filmmaking."

New Divide: Linkin Park's Mike Shinoda talks to attendees after panel discussion. (Photo: Arnold Turner)
Moderator Robert Kraft at the podium. (Photo: Arnold Turner)
From left: Curt Smith, singer-songwriter; Bunny Sigle, pop/R&B songwriter and producer; and Mike Shinoda.. (Photo: Arnold Turner)