Supervisor Spotlight: Carmen Montanez-Callan

This month we feature an exclusive interview with Music Supervisor Carmen Montanez-Callan who shares her insights into her career to date and what inspired her to pursue a career in supervision. Read the full interview below.

By The GMS Team

This month we feature an exclusive interview with Music Supervisor Carmen Montanez-Callan who shares her insights into her career to date and what inspired her to pursue a career in supervision. Read the full interview below.

How long have you been working in supervision?

Coming up to five years in supervision and previously another 10 years in other areas of music and moving image.

When did you first learn about supervision and decide it was something you wanted to pursue?

I have always been a massive music and film fan. It was a real obsession as a teen and I never grew out of it! When I wasn’t listening to music in my bedroom, I was sneaking into the living room after everyone had gone to bed to watch late night films. I remember being told “if you learn maths the way you learn song lyrics, you’ll go a long way.” Well, I’m still terrible at maths, but I have made a career out of music!

I grew up in Oxford, which had a strong music scene, and I had a friend who knew Dilly Gent, a superstar Music Video Commissioner at Parlophone. She got me work experience and when I moved to London for university, I did running jobs on music videos during the holidays. My first proper job in the industry was as an assistant to another Music Video Commissioner. I then went on to head up the music video department of Academy Films, followed by becoming Music Video Commissioner at Island Records. But as I grew older, I wanted to specialise in film and TV drama, so I went about it a bit of a weird way and got into TV via music entertainment shows like ‘The Voice’ and ‘Got to Dance’, working in that area for four years trying to work out where I fitted. I met Corinne Eady and Jon Tester while on ‘Got To Dance.’ I wanted to know more about sync and music supervision. Corinne took me under her wing and Jon introduced me to Iain Cooke. I then left Entertainment TV and moved into Drama and Documentary. Iain trained me up and gave me my first break and it changed my life! Before that, I didn’t even know Music Supervision was a thing, let alone my dream job!

Was there a particular ad/film that inspired you to explore supervision?

Not really one thing. I wanted to flip from putting images to music and put music to images instead. I loved the way music was used in Misfits around that time, but there wasn’t one particular thing that inspired me, more just a life time of loving the two mediums combined and wanting to find my niche.

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced in the job?

Working on a commercial music-heavy drama series with a director who didn’t understand the point of using commercial music! He told me the last time he’d used it, was when he worked on Disney films 20 years ago, so I had a job on my hands convincing him to try it. He ended up getting really into it, experimenting and having fun and now we’ve become good friends!

What’s your dream project? Are there any particular directors, brands, artists or composers you’d like to work with?

My favorite genre is dark, psychological drama, like ‘Sharp Objects’ and ‘Big Little Lies.’ I’m in awe of Susan Jacobs and her incredible work, she is a Queen! I’d love to get my teeth stuck into a music-heavy dark drama like that and work with a director like Jean-Marc Vallée.

What’s the best/your favorite use of music in a film or advertising?

There are so many! Too many to have a definitive favorite. One of my all-time favourites is the opening sequence of ‘Apocalypse Now’ with The End by The Doors. The lyrics are perfect, and it’s used so beautifully in combination with the powerful yet dream-like visuals and sound design. 

What advice would you give to those looking to become supervisors? 

Don’t underestimate the admin side! Enjoy the creative but learn the rules, the legal side and understand the responsibility of due diligence.

We would like to thank Carmen for the interview and insights. Check out our blog for more exclusive news, interviews and membership offers.

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