Bobby Gumm hails from Missouri and has been obsessed with movies and movie making since he was a kid. He moved out to L.A. to work at a small trailer house, with the intent of being a film editor. Over time, this job led to his current career as vice president of music at Trailer Park, where he has supervised hundreds of trailers, including Jurassic World, Mad Max: Fury Road, Batman Begins, Interstellar, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, and many more. Bobby’s most recent movie trailer for Suicide Squad has generated a huge buzz and anticipation for the film’s slated release this August. I had the pleasure of talking to Bobby recently, and here's the reel truth!
How did you come up with the idea of using a darker cover version of "I Started a Joke" for the Suicide Squad Comic Con trailer?
The song itself, the Bee Gees version, has been a favorite song of mine for a long time. It’s always been in the back of my mind to use for the right project. When we got the footage, and saw that the Joker was in it, it was one of the first things that I thought of. The Bee Gee’s version worked with the movie, but the studio wanted something a little more serious and a little more haunting. So, we decided to have a composer we work with, John Hanson, take a crack at doing a cover version. I helped produce it, and, his sister, Becky Hanson, who is an amazing singer, sang on the song.
I think we did a couple revisions on the cue, but it finished pretty quickly really! They’re using our version of “I Started a Joke” in the movie also! I think it’s going to be on the soundtrack too.
That's awesome! I saw that your Suicide Squad trailer got 67, 000,000 hits on YouTube!
Yeah! It was pretty big! I don't think our clients were expecting that!
How long does it take to edit a trailer like that, generally speaking?
Ideally, you get two weeks to work on a trailer, but that rarely happens anymore. I think on Suicide Squad we did have two weeks, but generally we’ve maybe got a week - tops.
What is the favorite trailer that you've worked on?
Probably Mad Max or Suicide Squad. I've had other ones that I've liked a lot, but Mad Max is probably one of my favorite movies in the last ten years, so I was excited to have had an opportunity to work on the movie. When we were watching the dailies, there was one shot that made it into the film where this guy is flying 30 feet through the air, and we thought, "Holy Crap! How do you survive that?" Apparently, nobody even got hurt. George Miller, the director is awesome.
The Mad Max trailer features music from Verdi, written in 1873. That's a pretty wild choice. How did that come to be?
After we had watched the footage, we all were thinking, "that was the most insane movie I've ever seen in my life!" So, I thought, what's the most insane music ever? So I went on a hunt for the most insane, weird pieces of opera, classical and music like that. A little ways into the search I remembered Verdi's Requiem. It was a struggle to actually get editors to use that music because it was a very weird direction. I finally convinced one of the editors to cut it in, and once he could see how it worked, it went from there. They ended up using the Verdi music in the movie too, so that was nice!
It's quite rare that the music from the trailer would also make it into the movie. You're helping out the director with music on both fronts! What is your process for coming up with music for each project?
I don't usually do a music search until I've seen some footage. You're also trying to help find the "voice" of the movie in a way. With trailers, it's going to be the first piece out that anybody sees. Whatever tone you set is pretty important.
Very cool! How do you maintain a good work/life balance?
(Laughs) Well, it's tough! I mean it is. Any entertainment job really, whether it's trailers or any part of it, especially on the creative side is a lot of hours. There's a lot of money at stake, a lot of pressure, so the client expects a lot. Once you work your way up though, it pays pretty well typically.
Do you have any advice for new music supervisors on handling stress?
Yeah. It is really easy to get burned out, especially if you take the criticisms very personal. If you do that - you're not going to last very long. Usually, it’s not personal at all. Half the time, the people critiquing you have never even met you. There’s not that much you can do about it other than to just learn and move on. But, I think some people take that very personally, and then it starts to weigh on them.
Typically, you give the client three or four different options for each trailer. Do you know which one will end up in the campaign?
It’s all subjective. One may be my favorite, because the music’s cool, or the style’s cool or whatever, but they may be looking for more of the story telling and things like that. A lot of times the one that I really like won’t be the one they go for because they’re looking for something else in the campaign that I may not necessarily be thinking about. That happens all the time.
What would be your dream band to synch?
Oh man! Probably The National.
To end our interview on a warm and fuzzy note, do you own any pets?
I have two dogs. They're both pugs. I like cats too though. I had a cat, just don't have one right now.
Suicide Squad hits theaters nation wide on August 5th, 2016.
Interviewer | Paul Goldowitz
Research, Editing, Copy | Paul Goldowitz
Extending gratitude to Bobby Gumm and Trailer Park.