Music supervisor Steven Gizicki has the world singing—and smiling—again with his work on Damien Chazelle’s technicolor musical, La La Land. Gizicki oversaw the creation and delivery of all things musical on the film, which included the intensive rehearsal and training required for Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling. The soundtrack, which he produced, is riding high on the charts. The film’s music garnered two Academy Awards for both score and original song. Gizicki’s work on La La Land also earned him a Guild of Music Supervisor award for Best Music Supervision For Film.
He also spent five years as head of the music department at George Lucas’ dream factory, Lucasfilm, where he worked closely with his childhood hero overseeing the filmmaker’s aerial war movie Red Tails and the animated spectacle Strange Magic, as well as several television series in the expanding Star Wars universe—from Clone Wars to Rebels. (He also collaborated with the new queen of Star Wars, Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy.)
One of Gizicki’s steadiest relationships since he began music supervising nearly two decades ago has been with Walt Disney Animation, where he helped steer the ongoing adventures of several of the studio’s most beloved features, including Mulan 2, Tarzan 2, The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Beginning, and Bambi II.
The groundwork for it all was laid in Gizicki’s long, vibrant experience as an executive in the record industry. Working with legendary artists like David Bowie, Lenny Kravitz, and the Rolling Stones as a project manager for Virgin Records America, as well as managing soundtrack albums for PolyGram Records, tuned his ears and cultivated relationships that have made for killer music supervising instincts.
Gizicki grew up in San Diego, and as a kid he fell (hard) for music after his uncles introduced him to Iggy Pop on the scratch and pop of swirling vinyl. He took a job in a record store as a teenager, and the rest is history. “I’m still a music junkie and a music Wikipedia,” he says, “it’s just how my brain works.”
Of his approach to music supervision, he says: “It’s all about the story. It’s all about serving the needs of the film. It can be the best song in the world, but if it’s not right for the story, then out it goes. For me, the key is to understand the vision of the director, and to be able to put that vision up on screen.”