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“Twilight” music supervisor Alexandra Patsavas discusses the art of the soundtrack

“Twilight” music supervisor Alexandra Patsavas discusses the art of the soundtrack (photo)

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Finding the perfect song to fit a poignant scene in a film can often take months to a year to select. With the right placement, the entire mood of a movie can shift, making all that hard work pay off.

Remember Rocky’s warm-up routine to “Gonna Fly Now” and that pinnacle stair scene? How about when John Cusack’s character in “Say Anything” held up his boombox blasting Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes”? These scenes are easily distinguished as landmark moments in Hollywood and it’s impossible to imagine any other song being played.

IFC chatted with music supervisor Alexandra Patsavas, known for her work in the “Twilight” series, to find out just how she selects the perfect track for each scene and the steps she takes from start to finish.

“Once a music supervisor gets hired, we sit down with the director and talk about the musical feel and vibe of the songs and the movie. That starts the musical conversation that might include CDs going back and forth or listening to tracks together,” Patsavas said. “Sometimes we start pitching tracks while the movie is being shot. And, of course once the movie is assembled and edited a supervisor pitches songs to picture.”

A self-described “new music lifer,” Patsavas said while she typically has several songs in mind for each scene, often one song will become the obvious best fit.

“I think it’s always important to have options. Sometimes a song seems so astonishingly right that those options are additional, lesser ideas. There are all kinds of ways to interpret a scene and it’s really about taking the emotional temperature of what the director is hoping for.”

Not an exact science, the song selection process has varied timelines.

“It could take a year if we start looking at the script before the movie is shot. It typically takes about a year for a movie to go from script to screen or it could take the very first time. It’s not a scientific process. It’s more of a creative process so there’s really no rule,” she said.

Patsavas went on to explain that being a music supervisor is like any creative job; you have to have a point of view.

“Music is incredibly subjective and the real magic comes when the producer or the director and the supervisor are in sync on what that musical personality is,” she said.

For those hoping to learn more about the art of song selection, Patsavas stressed the significant role music supervisors have within the film industry.

“I think it’s important to remember that music supervision is not just about a fantastic record collection or knowledge of music, although that certainly helps for aspiring music supervisors. It’s a collaborative process and it’s a partnership with the creative’s on the project,” she said. “The music supervisor is hired to help to create that musical signature, but it’s not in a vacuum and it’s not like putting together a mix tape, although we often get accused of that.”

Do you have any favorite uses of songs in a movie? Let us know in the comments below, or on Facebook or Twitter.

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

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Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

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Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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