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Music Supervisor: Tracy McKnight

Music Supervisor: Tracy McKnight (photo)

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Tracy McKnight was not aware of the job of music supervisor when she set out to find her way in the world. She thought she’d eventually work in fashion or cosmetics, perhaps something she dreamed of at 30,000 feet while working as flight attendant. Instead, she landed a job at a NY recording studio as the night manager during college and it set her on a career path in the music industry. The thrill is still evident in her voice when she talks about it.

(Left: Lisa P. first struts on screen to the Rolling Stones in “Adventureland,” Miramax films)

Then in ’91 she saw “The Commitments,” and realized there was a person responsible for selecting and licensing music for films; the music supervisor. It all clicked. So with determination, a move to LA, and some friendly mentors along the way, she became one. Now 11 years in she has a roster of over 80 films and is responsible for the impeccable “Adventureland” soundtrack.

Some directors call the shots with a soundtrack and “Adventureland” writer/director Greg Mottola is certainly one of them. But regardless of who drives the creative choices, putting it all together is a colossal job. What astounded me most upon seeing the film was, given what must have been a very modest budget, how Mottola and McKnight pulled off all those musical gems. I found out they created a special category, internally speaking, for the songs that were integral to Mottola’s script called “Tracy walks on glass.” Songs like “Tops” by the Stones, the VU songs “Satellite of Love” and “Pale Blue Eyes” were on the list. Yeah, Falco’s “Rock Me Amadeus” too. So by any means necessary, McKnight got them. They weren’t all easy sells and some were at first declined. I won’t attempt to detail the means with which she ultimately obtained them, but I’m so happy she did. No animals were hurt in the process.

Clearing songs, convincing bands, making big things happen on small budgets along with all the different pieces brought to the table by composers, directors, producers – McKnight adorably describes it all “like a puzzle,” that she has to put together.

Some of her favorite work, or at least what she could rattle off on the spot, includes, The Ramones documentary “End of the Century” and the Wilco doc “I Am Trying to Break Your Heart.” An early turning point for her was the 1998 film “High Art,” the first time she had a band (“Shudder To Think”) compose the score and write original songs for a film. It wouldn’t be the last time. 2007’s “Dedication” featured a soundtrack by indefinable indie favorites Deerhoof, merged with a score by composer Ed Shearmur (“Charlie’s Angel’s”), a strange pairing to say the least. She said it exemplified that “road of discovery, creating something that is truly unique” experience, something that clearly spins her records.

McKnight now works for Lionsgate, as their VP of film music. She isn’t just very passionate about being at the crossroads of music and film; it’s like a revelation for her. She’s an adviser to the Sundance Composers Lab and the producers conference helping filmmakers “think about and budget for music” in films. She also programs a night at Sundance, called Music Meets Film, going on 8 years now. It highlights and celebrates the music in the films that are playing that year with live bands. “Mos Def covering Fats Waller songs with Michel Gondry” on drums, included. So she knows how to throw a party too.


Hacked In

Funny or Die Is Taking Over

FOD TV comes to IFC every Saturday night.

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We’ve been fans of Funny or Die since we first met The Landlord. That enduring love makes it more than logical, then, that IFC is totally cool with FOD hijacking the airwaves every Saturday night. Yes, that’s happening.

The appropriately titled FOD TV looks like something pulled from public access television in the nineties. Like lo-fi broken-antenna reception and warped VHS tapes. Equal parts WTF and UHF.

Get ready for characters including The Shirtless Painter, Long-Haired Businessmen, and Pigeon Man. They’re aptly named, but for a better sense of what’s in store, here’s a taste of ASMR with Kelly Whispers:

Watch FOD TV every Saturday night during IFC’s regularly scheduled movies.


Wicked Good

See More Evil

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is on Hulu.

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GIFs via Giphy

Okay, so you missed the entire first season of Stan Against Evil. There’s no shame in that, per se. But here’s the thing: Season 2 is just around the corner and you don’t want to lag behind. After all, Season 1 had some critical character development, not to mention countless plot twists, and a breathless finale cliffhanger that’s been begging for resolution since last fall. It also had this:


The good news is that you can catch up right now on Hulu. Phew. But if you aren’t streaming yet, here’s a basic primer…

Willards Mill Is Evil

Stan spent his whole career as sheriff oblivious to the fact that his town has a nasty curse. Mostly because his recently-deceased wife was secretly killing demons and keeping Stan alive.

Demons Really Want To Kill Stan

The curse on Willards Mill stipulates that damned souls must hunt and kill each and every town sheriff, or “constable.” Oh, and these demons are shockingly creative.


They Also Want To Kill Evie

Why? Because Evie’s a sheriff too, and the curse on Willard’s Mill doesn’t have a “one at a time” clause. Bummer, Evie.

Stan and Evie Must Work Together

Beating the curse will take two, baby, but that’s easier said than done because Stan doesn’t always seem to give a damn. Damn!


Beware of Goats

It goes without saying for anyone who’s seen the show: If you know that ancient evil wants to kill you, be wary of anything that has cloven feet.


Season 2 Is Lurking

Scary new things are slouching towards Willards Mill. An impending darkness descending on Stan, Evie and their cohort – eviler evil, more demony demons, and whatnot. And if Stan wants to survive, he’ll have to get even Stanlier.

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is now streaming right now on Hulu.



Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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GIFs via Giphy

Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”


IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?

Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!

Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.

Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 


IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.