Molding Magical Soundscapes: Movie Music Supervisor Anna San Juan

Music supervisor Anna San Juan
Music supervisor Anna San Juan shot by Reymark Palcon

 

In the glamorous world of movie making, one aspect of the film production process is often overlooked and vastly underrated. This refers to the musical soundscapes that help mold the film into the magical art form that we have all come to know and love. Without the extensive efforts of a film’s music supervisor, in this case the talented Anna San Juan, all of the relevant audio featured in the film, including any and all music would be nothing but an illusion.

Born and raised in Manila, Anna San Juan has proven herself to be very talented when it comes to recognizing what sound best compliments a project she is working on. Many people don’t realize that being a music supervisor is much more difficult than just picking songs for a film. The job often entails not just the creative aspect of music but the business end as well including such tasks as dealing with numerous legal aspects of clearing song licenses’, extensive research to find the right’s holders, and most importantly reaching out to labels and artists about using their music in the first place.

San Juan realized early on in life that she had a deep passion for music and film so she figured why not try to involve both in her ideal career.

“It all started when a group of incredibly talented American Film Institute fellows took a chance on me bringing me on-board their films as the music supervisor. After two years of also learning alongside them, the opportunity for a feature film [Actors Anonymous] unexpectedly came along, ” recalls San Juan.

Actors Anonymous, the film in question, was a difficult project to take on, but San Juan’s music supervision endowed the upcoming feature with captivating soundscapes that take on a life of their own. It involved the collaboration of 12 directors and featured the esteemed actor, writer and director James Franco (127 hours, The Interview) in a starring role, who also happened to be the author of the adapted novel.

At times the role of music supervisor is a grueling job with little to no recognition for doing something that truly adds an inordinate amount of substance to the finished project. Nevertheless, San Juan certainly understands the importance of what she does for everyone involved with the production.

“My all-time favorite moments are always the unexpected. Something clicks in between song and picture, and suddenly the lines are blurred.  At least this is how unique ideas blow me away. A great, innovative pick in my experience can transform and elevate the scene into more than it is.  I wouldn’t say better, just different in an amazing creative way, ” adds San Juan.

Prior to her work on Franco’s  Actors Anonymous, San Juan proved the diversity of her skill as the music supervisor on a variety of other films including Starman (2014), This Way Up (2014), Slut (2014), Young Americans (2014) and Martian American (2014). The latter two films went on to be featured at dozens of film festivals worldwide, won numerous awards, and both were presented with a prestigious Student Emmy Award in their respective categories.

Currently San Juan is working on a number of projects most notably The Chase and Pursuit, a comedy about a couple out on the run over a parking ticket, and the more serious City Limits, a crime drama that focuses on a man’s obsession with his father’s untimely death and the risk he and his friends take to uncover the dangerous truth about what really happened.

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