Crafting The Perfect Soundtrack: An Exclusive Interview With Music Supervisor On “Gone With The Night” And The AAG Commercial “Better Lives: Mail”

Anna San Juan has established herself as a distinguished music supervisor in the film and advertising industry, known for her ability to seamlessly integrate music into visual storytelling. Her recent work on the feature film “Gone With The Night” exemplifies her talent and dedication. Anna’s journey with this project began through her long-standing collaboration with producer Chris Abernathy.

Her expertise and insight were crucial in curating a soundtrack that enhances the film’s thriller narrative. Additionally, Anna’s versatility is evident from her successful supervision of music for high-profile commercials, such as the American Advisors Group TV spot featuring Tom Selleck.

Her ability to navigate complex licensing negotiations and creative collaboration with directors and artists showcases her as a pivotal figure in the music supervision landscape.

Anna San Juan Interview Soundtrack Article Image


We’re thrilled to have Anna with us today to answer our questions and share her experiences and insights.

As the music supervisor for the feature film “Gone With The Night,” can you tell us how you became involved with this project?

I had been working closely with producer Chris Abernathy on several projects prior to “Gone With The Night.” Then, when the film was on the table, he brought me on board as Music Supervisor to helm the film’s music department.

“Gone With The Night” features a notable cast and crew, including director Eli Horowitz and actors Winona Ryder and Dermot Mulroney. How did you collaborate with the director and team to ensure the music fit their vision for the film?

Eli eloquently communicates his ideas in terms of songs featured in the film. On an initial video call, we spoke about the tones he wanted for the film, specifically ones by artist Karen Dalton.

Immediately, I went deep into research, found the rights owners, and eventually got in touch via email. Negotiations were involved while keeping the film’s music budget in mind, which I believe both our party, the record label, and the publishing company are happy with. It took plenty of back-and-forth communication, but terms were agreed upon at the end of the day.

How did you approach the music selection for “Gone With The Night”? Were there specific themes or moods you aimed to capture through the soundtrack as the music supervisor?

Yes, our director wanted Karen Dalton songs or in the lane of. Thankfully, we could license the exact tracks he wanted, highlighting the film’s thriller nature. The picks matched the scenes perfectly, as was featured in the opening and end credits, making them super important to nail down.

Dalton’s music, in particular, is an artistic contrast to the film’s theme, a horror/thriller. Whereas Karen’s songs were more contemporary, giving the sense of an enigma of a film. We don’t know what’s happening next, which I feel was the aim all along.

The film premiered at South By Southwest (SXSW) 2022. How did it feel to see the project receive such recognition, and what was the response to your music supervision work?

It was a big deal premiering the film at the esteemed SXSW, where many great movies have also premiered and gone on to box office success. First, it’s a film I’m very proud of and grateful to be involved in. We had a great team working together for the sake of storytelling. Second, the response is nothing but rewarding.

It’s hard to explain, but it’s that moment when the stars finally align, and the songs are first introduced to the public’s ears. It is always a special moment on the big screen or on-demand online platforms.

You also worked on the American Advisors Group TV commercial “Better Lives: Mail.” How did you get involved as the music supervisor for this commercial featuring Tom Selleck?

Bear in The Hall (NY-based advertising agency) and I have been working together for years now, since late 2017, I believe. We started with advertising spots for ADT, the security company, and have achieved success via millions of YouTube views and national cable TV features. It was a no-brainer to resume working together per usual when American Advisors Group knocked on our doors.

 Working with a high-profile team, including actor Tom Selleck and director Peter Chelsom, how did you collaborate with the team to ensure the music aligned with the commercial’s message and tone?

“Better Lives: Mail” was a tricky ad spot to fulfill. Among the challenges we had was licensing “Please Mister Postman” by The Marvelettes, which plays right into the spot’s message and scenes. Since licensing the original recording was financially outside the realm of possibility, some creativity was needed applying.

I found and reached out to Alecia Renee on YouTube, who had uploaded a cover song of “Please Mister Postman.” The rest of the team liked her rendition, so I discussed with Alecia the tones Peter Chelsom, and the team requested, a mix of the original with a modern, upbeat touch. So, for this spot, we had a unique, exclusive cover song licensed particularly for AAG’s use, which I initiated and saw through til the end.

What was your process for selecting the music for this commercial? Were there specific elements or emotions you aimed to evoke to complement the advertising message?

Several songs were considered from the outset, all vast and expensive songs. The first step is constantly consulting with the team’s key creatives alongside myself.

We first wanted “Please Mister Postman” for its relevance to the music industry. Second, its lyrics point to Tom Selleck’s character in the advertising spot, reading letters from AAG customers. I think the song we landed with ultimately was the perfect fit, and Alecia Renee couldn’t have done better capturing that sense of recognizability and newness simultaneously.

The commercial received national TV airtime, a significant achievement. How did it feel to see your work reach such a broad audience, and what feedback did you receive regarding the music’s impact on the commercial?

That always makes me proud of the team and myself, creating a creation for the masses to witness, not only in the US but worldwide, thanks to the internet. Many online were inquiring where to find the song, who the artist is, etc. — it garnered plenty of attention with its mystery factor. Also, since it’s a bespoke cover explicitly created for “Better Lives: Mail,” people are generally interested in new.

What advice would you give those aspiring to follow in your footsteps and become successful music supervisors?

I love and have a passion for music above all. Respect artists’ work by paying accordingly and fairly. Be quick on your feet, as production situations and creative ideas redirect occasionally. Accommodate inconvenience when it comes to deadlines since the job can be fast-paced. And stay on top of timelines and deadlines.

Become a team player. It is impossible to become a Music Supervisor and work in isolation. Offer your ideas to the team and stay confident that your uniqueness as a person and Music Supervisor will shine through.

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