Podcast of the Week: Soundtracking

Edith Bowman's interviews with directors about the music that accompanies their work also reveal a lot about other aspects of film-making

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In the week that Sofia Coppola became only the second woman in 70 years to win the Best Director prize at the Cannes Film Festival, Edith Bowman is very conscious of the lack of women that she has been able to feature in her very fine podcast Soundtracking, in which she talks to directors and other leading film creatives about the music that accompanies their work.

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“I really want more women to come on the show,” the long established music broadcaster – Radios 1 and 6 and now Virgin – tells me. “There are just so many more male directors, but we are working on it, and Coppola is someone we are lining up to appear in the next couple of months.”

Before that we’ll hear Alice Lowe, director of the upcoming black comedy Prevenge (about a pregnant serial killer), and Bowman has scriptwriter Abi Morgan and Hollywood director Kathryn Bigelow in her sights.

But so successful has Soundtracking been – it started last year and is now 40-plus episodes in – that it’s become a case of the film industry approaching Bowman rather than the other way round.

Bowman had a coup with her first programme by getting Jon Favreau – director of the Iron Man movies and the man behind last year’s Jungle Book re-make – and she has really built on it. 

Film music has been stirring Bowman’s soul ever since she experienced the sound of the John Williams score that accompanied Star Wars, and she also cites Maurice Jarre’s Lawrence of Arabia theme music as a defining moment. More recently, it’s Hans Zimmer’s music for Christopher Nolan’s 2014 sci-fi hit Interstellar that she’s especially grown to love, listening to it when she goes out running. 

Soundtracking started out as an occasional programme on 6Music but, says Bowman, the station “never showed any love for it” and so she took the podcast plunge. The whole thing is put together by her and an editor friend who she declines to name, and film figures she has interviewed so far include James Mangold, Danny Boyle, Ron Howard, Ang Lee and Damien Chazelle.

What’s great about Soundtracking is the way directors seem to relax and open up, and you learn so much about all aspects of film-making, not just what scoring a movie involves. And of course you get to hear clips of the music itself.

I just saw the political thriller Miss Sloane starring Jessica Chastain, and Bowman’s recent interview with its director John Madden – talking about the music that Max Richter wrote for the movie – was superb. “A composer teaches you things about your film that you didn’t know,” he told her. “In the end, much more than people ever realise, the world of the film is created by the music.”

Of all the projects Bowman has ever been involved in, this is the one she loves the most, she says. And it really shows.

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Listen to Soundtracking here