You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Format: From supes to nuts

Music for Screens: Fall 2011

Unless they are on staff at a studio or network, music supervisors are a fairly independent bunch, working on a project-by-project basis, not unlike a lot of freelancers and below-the-liners who rely on relationships and their own hard-earned reps. But at Format Entertainment, a cadre of in-demand supervisors have banded together as a collective, sharing knowledge and resources to help fulfill the company’s mandate as a full-service, one-stop-shop music operation for films and TV.

The roster includes company founder Dave Jordan (“Captain America,” “Transformers”), Julie Michels (“The Blind Side,” “Devil Wears Prada”), Julianne Jordan (“Mr. & Mrs. Smith,” “Alvin & the Chipmunks”) and Anastasia Brown (the upcoming “Footloose,” “Road to Nowhere”) — making it the largest collection of music supervisors in the business.

The highly specialized, super competitive music supervision industry is much smaller than you might imagine — there are around 30 active working supervisors in LA for film and primetime television. Format, predominantly a film theatrical supervisions company, has four of the top supervisors in the biz, sharing everything from administrative back office services to knowledge on which person to call to clear which song.

“People say “Format…what is it that, how come there are so many people over there?” says Julie Michels, an independent music supervisor who joined the Format family in 2005. “We share. Instead of being down in the trenches all the time and working on your own, you get to be to be part of a bigger picture and have support.” Michels was a music executive at MGM until they closed their production doors and “let us all go. I thought ‘what am I going to do? I am an in-house person.’ I did not want to be an independent music supervisor. Then Dave called and said ‘why don’t you come join me?'” Michels and her assistant teamed up with Jordan and his assistant in a one-bedroom apartment in Hollywood, Format’s first offices. Jordan brought more and more players under the Format umbrella, opened publishing and management arms, expanding his vision on what a music supervision company should look like in the 21st century.

“Most supervisors basically work out of their garage or their guest bedroom,” says Dave Jordan. “It can become very isolated. I thought it would be great to put people in a room together where they could share ideas and have communal space.” Jordan, who music supervises all of Marvel’s films, has worked on eight movies this year alone. His wife and fellow Format member Julianne Jordan has worked on five, and is currently co-music supervising a project, Pitch Perfect, with Julie Michels (it’s rare for two music supervisors to work on the same project together). “Working together helps ease the load–if we are looking for a particular type of vocalist, it’s easy to walk around the office and say does anyone know a vocalist that sings in this style?” she says. “Music supervisors don’t have a guild or anything like that. What we do have, at Format is a good group of people that you can bounce ideas off of.”

Because of the shrinking infrastructure at the studios and because of the growth of self-financed production companies, Dave Jordan is positioning Format as a one-stop music solution for smaller production companies, as well as providing all the services that a traditional studio department would handle. Marvel, for example, does not have a music department at all, outsourcing all their needs to Dave Jordan, who has supervised about a dozen Marvel movies, providing everything from business affairs knowledge to on-camera music supervision services. “I approach my moves as a customer service job,” says Jordan. “There are a lot of people with great music taste, out there. But if you can’t deliver great music, on budget, you’re just another song picker with a good iPod.”

Music for Screens: Fall 2011

WME composer arm changes dynamics | Morris leaps from TV to immortality | Pop icons plys pic trade | Licensing switches from the cart to the horse | Rock royalty acts as one-man band | ‘Dawn’ LP aims to get back on ‘Twilight’ track | Format: From supes to nuts | ‘Anarchy’ keeps humming with eclectic cues | Alt-rock hep cats make ‘Portlandia’ sing | Movie musicmakers

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Ad Astra Box Office

    Box Office Battle: 'Ad Astra' Takes on 'Rambo: Last Blood' and 'Downton Abbey'

    “Hustlers” and “Good Boys” proved that even in the age of Marvel dominance and remake mania, movies that don’t exist within an established franchise can still be box office draws. Can “Ad Astra” continue that trend? The space drama — starring Brad Pitt and directed by James Gray — arrives on the big screen this [...]

  • Harvey Weinstein Accuser Lucia Evans Breaks

    Harvey Weinstein Accuser Lucia Evans Breaks Silence After D.A. Dropped Charge

    Lucia Evans gave a wrenching account on Tuesday of her efforts to hold Harvey Weinstein responsible for sexual assault, saying she felt betrayed after the Manhattan D.A.’s office dropped her allegations last year. Evans spoke to Variety after giving a speech at a conference on influencer fraud in Manhattan, making her first public comments on [...]

  • Ad Astra

    How 'Ad Astra' Production Crew Created Authentic Look for Brad Pitt Space Drama

    In “Ad Astra,” Brad Pitt’s astronaut Roy McBride crosses the solar system to find and confront his long-lost father, requiring the movie crew to create an authentic-looking future that conveys the theme of traveling long distances to learn the lesson that it’s where you started from that has the most value. “Visually, the aim was [...]

  • Nahnatchka Khan'Always Be My Maybe' film

    'Fresh Off the Boat' Creator Nahnatchka Khan Signs First-Look Deal With Netflix

    Netflix has signed “Fresh Off the Boat” creator and executive producer Nahnatchka Khan to an exclusive multi-year first look deal for feature films. Khan made her feature film directorial debut with “Always Be My Maybe” starring Ali Wong and Randall Park. The romantic comedy premiered on Netflix in May and was seen by 32 million [...]

  • The Mover

    Latvia, Kyrgyzstan, Montenegro, Costa Rica Announce Oscar Contenders

    Latvia, Kyrgyzstan, Montenegro and Costa Rica are the latest countries to announce their entries for the newly rebranded International Feature Film award at the 92nd Academy Awards. All four countries are seeking their first Oscar nomination in what was formerly known as the foreign-language film category. Latvia has selected Holocaust drama “The Mover” (pictured) as [...]

  • The Sky Is Pink

    Toronto Film Review: 'The Sky is Pink'

    Shonali Bose’s much-laureled 2014 “Margarita with a Straw” was a film whose presentation of a cerebral palsy-afflicted heroine sidestepped all the usual hand-wringing inspirational clichés of disability portrayal, making her story all the more enlightening and affecting. It is particularly disappointing, then, that the director’s followup should approach another tale of genetic infirmity with all [...]

  • Jodie Turner-SmithVariety Studio Comic-Con, Day 1,

    'Queen and Slim' Star Jodie Turner-Smith Joins Michael B. Jordan in 'Without Remorse' (EXCLUSIVE)

    After she plays the Bonnie to Daniel Kaluuya’s Clyde in Universal’s romantic thriller “Queen and Slim,” actress Jodie Turner-Smith will join Michael B. Jordan in Paramount’s adaptation of Tom Clancy’s “Without Remorse.” Turner-Smith will play Karen Greer in the movie. As recently announced, Jamie Bell will also co-star as Robert Ritter, the deputy director of [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content