Supervisor Spotlight: Ciara Elwis

This month we feature an exclusive interview with Ciara Elwis, London- based Music Supervisor at Air-Edel, who shares insights into her career to date and what inspired her to pursue a career in supervision.

By Vicky Bennett / GMS Administrator

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

Ciara: Wanting to be ‘the person who chose the songs for adverts’ was a career goal for me right in between archaeologist (7, because I loved dinosaurs) and Architect (13, because I loved Sims). I learnt the Suzuki method so music was part of my life from a really young age. Ending up in the music industry was always a goal, but I didn’t have a word for the exact profession until much later on!

What were you doing before?

Ciara: Prior to this I was studying music at Edinburgh University. I went to France for a semester in my third year and the course there was much more business focussed, so that was when I started to learn about the difference between master and publishing side etc – I knew about SACEM way before I knew about PRS! In my final year, I worked as a brand manager for Spotify, doing playlists and hosting music events on campus so I suppose that was my first job in the industry technically, but I’ve been at Air-Edel since I graduated.

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

Ciara: I grew up on shows like Gossip Girl, One Tree Hill and The O.C – watching, shazamming, downloading on iTunes (sometimes Limewire-ing – sorry I know better now!) and then listening to the songs on repeat. They had such a huge effect on the artist I consumed around that time, so I always loved the idea of providing that for others in those formative years.

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

Ciara: I’d say making budgets match the vision is a big one. As a music lover I want to pay musicians well as it’s their livelihood and I want to support them, so finding the happy medium between paying people fairly and making sure we have the best music possible within the means of the production is always a challenge. Another one is definitely temp love!

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

Ciara: I’d love to work with Reese Witherspoon’s production company Hello Sunshine – she’s adapting quite a few books that I’ve devoured and obsessed over, so it would be amazing to be part of bringing them to life. Music also tends to be given a lot of room to breathe in her productions which I’m obviously a big fan of! Greta Gerwig would be top of my list of directors to work with – I just love the honesty of her story telling.

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

WAY too difficult to pick just one, but ‘Perfect Day’ in Trainspotting and ‘Heroes’ in The Perks of being a wallflower are definitely up there. My favourite score of all time is Yann Tiersen’s for Amélie.

What advice would you give someone looking to become a supervisor?

Ciara: I’d say learn as much as you can about the technical side of the role – it’s the less sexy part for sure, but it’s definitely the most important! Then I’d also recommend consuming as much music as humanely possible, and try not to be a snob about any genre or artist – you never know when that track might come in handy!

Thank you Ciara for taking the time out to speak with us here at GMS, we wish you all the luck in your future work!

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