Spirit Music

For our latest sync review, we take a look behind the scenes of the Oscar-nominated film Dallas Buyers Club.

Anita Awbi
  • By Anita Awbi
  • 25 Mar 2014
  • min read
For our latest sync review, we take a look behind the scenes of the Oscar-nominated film Dallas Buyers Club.

The feature, directed by Jean-Marc Vallée, follows the life of Ron Woodroof, an electrician and rodeo cowboy with a devil-may-care lifestyle who is knocked sideways when he receives an HIV-positive diagnosis.

Its accompanying soundtrack features T Rex - one of the most iconic bands of the seventies - alongside more recent tracks from the likes of Cold War Kids, Tegan and Sara and My Morning Jacket.

The music is such an integral part of the overall narrative that we caught up with Peter Shane, one of the main characters involved in selecting and placing tracks, to find out how it all worked out.

Below, Peter, who is currently senior vice president of creative services at Spirit Music, explains how the T Rex tracks (Life Is Strange, Main Man and Ballrooms of Mars) came to define the voice of the film’s leading stars...

'We were lucky enough to be involved in this project very early on. From the beginning the filmmakers explained to us they were capturing Oscar performances and you could tell there was something really special going on.

'In the case of T Rex, we’re fortunate enough to be working with the publishing as well as the masters for the catalogue from The Slider record going forward. It makes licensing very easy, especially for independent film. I find that independent filmmakers like to take a risk and dig deeper into catalogues.

'Sometimes they know they can’t get 20th Century Boy or Children of the Revolution, but they really want the Marc Bolan sound. That’s when we dig in and help find songs that get across whatever emotion or dialogue they are trying to enhance. That’s pretty much what happened in this case.

'Knowing the story and the film, it all made perfect sense to use T Rex. We got specific scene information and went back and forth a few times but the whole process was pretty simple – it’s great when you work with directors and filmmakers who know what they want.

'If you listen to Life Is Strange, Main Man and Ballrooms of Mars, they are all cut very similar in terms of sonics and overall vibe. Lyrically they were on point so they slotted seamlessly into the picture.

'Marc inspired so many people. He had a huge influence on music and people in general – he encouraged them to be themselves and to shine. This attitude chimed with the Dallas Buyers Club main character who needed to express himself in the way he did. Like Marc, he threw caution to the wind and was always larger than life. I think there’s a parallel in the state of mind.

'We hoped the film would be massive and it is. We knew the performances and direction were thrilling. The message of the story was so important to get out there and when art can tell a story in such a way that so many people take notice, it’s a win for everyone.

'There are certain projects that you get involved in and you just get that feeling. You know instantly when it’s something special – and that’s why we were so eager and anxious and excited to be even a little part of this project. For us it was kismet.'