<I>Masters of the Air</I>: Music supervisor Deva Anderson
Marc Loftus
March 27, 2024

Masters of the Air: Music supervisor Deva Anderson

Deva Anderson is an award-winning music supervisor and executive, whose career spans more than 40 feature films and 30 original television series for television. She got her start in the music industry representing artists before being hired by Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman as the music supervisor on the musical That Thing You Do!, starring Hanks, Charlize Theron and Liv Tyler. She was then brought in-house by Hanks and Goetzman to serve as the head of music when they launched their production company Playtone, and has been involved in nearly every Playtone project over the past 25 years, including Band of Brothers and Greyhound. Here, she shares insight into her most recent work on Apple TV+’s Masters of the Air.

Deva, for those not familiar with Playtone, maybe you could detail that part of the business? 

“In 1996, I worked as music supervisor on Tom Hanks’ directorial debut, That Thing You Do!. Following the film in 1998, Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman started their own film/TV production company, Playtone. At the start of the company, I was brought in-house to oversee the music department, and have been a part of the team since then. I have music supervised the majority of the projects produced in-house, including Game Change, Olive Kittridge, John Adams, Band of Brothers, The Pacific and Masters of the Air.

“I also have my own music supervision company and music supervise projects outside of Playtone, including films such as Because of Winn Dixie, Blade Runner 2049 and the upcoming Netflix feature The Piano Lesson, which I co-supervised with Rachel Lautzenheiser on my team. Because of my experience both in-house at Playtone and simultaneously working independently as music supervisor, I have been brought on to music consult for outside production companies and studios, such as Netflix.”

Can you tell us what your role as a music supervisor on Masters of the Air entails? 

“As the show’s music supervisors, my colleague and co-supervisor Rachel Lautzenheiser and I, worked on all aspects of music in the series. We worked with the directors and producers from the script phase through the release of the project. This started with the creation of a musical timeline of the era corresponding with the script, as well as creative conversations with the filmmakers. This is one of the most fulfilling parts of music supervision, as it often unveils music ideas to shape the story. 

“Since this show is a trilogy, I had the advantage of having worked on the previous projects of the trilogy (Band of Brothers  and The Pacific). There was already a musical language understood between us and the filmmakers going into our third installment. To stay true to every detail in the series, it was important for period accuracy with the songs. 

“My co-supervisor Rachel and I, worked on all aspects of music in the series. This includes the creative conversations and suggestions, securing legal clearance and song rights, and coordinating with production for the on-camera song (from pre-records, to on-set playback, to providing material for the actors). In post production, we worked through the entire editing process through the final mix, in addition to the release of the series and soundtrack.” 

When it comes to the original score, do you work with the composer on ideas? 

“For the majority of the films that I music supervise, I work with the director, producers and composer throughout the score process. For Masters of the Air, we had the pleasure of having Blake Neely as our composer. Blake has scored several of our projects over the years at Playtone, including The Pacific. Having already had a long history of creative projects together, producer Gary Goetzman worked directly with Blake on all aspects of the musical score for Masters of the Air. The large orchestral moving score is the musical star of the series!”

Was there licensed music as well? And perhaps you could comment on the on-screen band performances and how you filled those needs too?

“Between the nine episodes, there were more than 20 on-camera performances and 35-plus licensed songs (some used multiple times in the series). For example, the Artie Shaw song ‘The Chant’ was used various times and is interwoven with our character Rosie’s story. The real life Rosie Rosenthal was a fan of Jazz music. We knew that we wanted to highlight his love for various Jazz artists, like Duke Ellington and Ella Fitzgerald with a special reoccurring use of Artie Shaw’s ‘The Chant’

“The licensed songs helped ground the series in its time period and hint at emotions under the surface. Many of the on-camera scenes offer a reprieve from the horrors of war, taking place in scenes where there is bonding and celebration within the series. Since this was filmed in England during the height of COVID, we hired local music coordinators and on-set music supervisors to oversee the on-camera music and tag teamed on many of the details for on set pre-record and playback.”