Ghostbusters Director & Producer Ivan Reitman (1946-2022) – has been the creative force behind films beloved by audiences around the world – from raucous comedies like Animal House, and Stripes, to more sophisticated delights like Dave, Six Days Seven Nights, and Twins.
2019 was a busy year for Reitman when he worked closely as a producer with director and son Jason Reitman on the next chapter of the Ghostbusters franchise, Ghostbusters: Afterlife in addition to A Babysitter’s Guide To Monster-Hunting for Netflix.
The career that has brought so much laughter to us began in Canada, where Reitman’s family emigrated from Czechoslovakia when he was four-years-old. Reitman studied music at McMaster University, but soon turned his talents to film and theater, when he joined forces with the National Lampoon and brought us the groundbreaking sensation, Animal House. Following the success of that film, Reitman returned home to Canada to direct Meatballs, still considered one of the most successful films made in Canada.
His string of hits continued with Stripes and the Ghostbusters series, which teamed Bill Murray with Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis; Dave, starring Kevin Kline and Sigourney Weaver; Legal Eagles, starring Robert Redford and Debra Winger; Six Days Seven Nights, with Harrison Ford and Anne Heche; Evolution, starring David Duchovny and Julianne Moore; and a series of films that revealed an untapped comic persona for action hero Arnold Schwarzenegger: Twins, Junior, (both co-starring Danny DeVito) and Kindergarten Cop.
In 1984, Reitman was honored as Director of the Year by the National Association of Theater Owners and the next year received a Special Achievement Award at the Canadian Genie Awards. In 1979, and again in 1989, for the films Animal House and Twins, Reitman was honored with the People’s Choice Award. In November of 1994, Reitman became the third director honored by Variety magazine in a special “Billion Dollar Director” issue. At the end of 2000, Reitman’s films Animal House and Ghostbusters were honored as two of this past century’s funniest movies by the American Film Institute. Reitman led The Montecito Picture Company, a film and television production company, with partner Tom Pollock. He was married to former Quebec film actress Genevieve Robert for more than 40 years. Together, they had three children and lived in Santa Barbara, California.
In the history of film music, Elmer Bernstein (1922-2004) is among the iconic and the legendary. With a career that spanned an unparalleled 5 decades, he composed more than 150 original movie scores and nearly 80 for television, creating some of the most recognizable and memorable themes in Hollywood history and in doing so redefining how movies were scored. His score for The Man With the Golden Arm brought intense, aggressive jazz to the big screen; the rousing Western anthem of The Magnificent Seven set the standard for western scores for years to come; the lyrical and quietly moving music of To Kill a Mockingbird is simply timeless; and the jaunty, thumb-nosing march of The Great Escape is still heard 50 years later. In the ’70s and ’80s his comedy scores for National Lampoon’s Animal House and Ghostbusters changed the way comedy films have been scored ever since. Working for everyone from Cecil B. DeMille (The Ten Commandments) to Martin Scorsese (The Age of Innocence), his career connects Old Hollywood to the new. He is also the only person to be nominated for an Academy Award in every decade from the 1950s to the 2000s.
Between the Staves
Composer Elmer Bernstein’s reflections on Ghostbusters and working with Ivan Reitman, from his 1985 CinemaScore interview, “Elmer Bernstein and Ghostbusters“:
“[Ghostbusters] was probably one of the most difficult jobs I ever had to do just to, and I don’t mean this as a pun, but to find the right note. The score was not easy. It was extremely difficult. Ivan Reitman and I must have talked on the phone every single day while I was working on it, just trying to help ourselves find the right approach.”
“One of the reasons that the scores work is that I do not denigrate the film. I don’t try to do anything hokey, I don’t try to make the music funny. My theory is that if the comedy is working in the film, let the film do the comedy, and let the music get behind the emotion or the action, so as to add another element.”
“It’s basically a very original film – I don’t think anybody’s ever seen a film quite like it! – and it walks a very, very fine line. Part of it is comedy, and yet you have to take the ghost business quite seriously. You have to believe, along with these guys, that the ghosts really do exist. Therefore the score also had to work a very fine line.”– Elmer Bernstein, 1985
Orchestrator and conductor Peter M. Bernstein’s reflections on collaborating with his father for Ghostbusters:
By the time Ghostbusters arrived I had been working for my father as an orchestrator for a decade and as a composer in my own right for three years. I was just a few months away from my first real success with LucasFilm’s Ewok television movies (Ewoks: Caravan of Courage and a year later Ewoks: The Battle for Endor) and we were both aware that our years of working closely together were drawing to a graceful close. We had a great time in those days and I was able to learn much about his craft while being continuously amazed at his ability to enhance the movies he scored. Ghostbusters was no exception as he walked a fine line between composing for a comedy on the one hand but one where the ghostly storyline had to be believed on the other. We had the mechanics of doing this down to a science. He trusted me as an orchestrator with his most minimal sketches when time pressures demanded it, and I trusted him as conductor and leader of the recording to deal with of all the additions, suggestions, and musical asides that I could come up with. In short, both of us felt free to experiment and confident in the outcome. Ghostbusters was a pressure-packed project: a major summer release full of special effects with a short schedule. My job at the recordings was to sit between the director, Ivan Reitman, and make sure his suggestions were being heard, and the recording engineer to make sure all the instruments were being heard. Even though there was pressure and hard work and long hours, there was also a lot of fun and an awareness of what a special and unique time Ghostbusters was for both of us.– Peter M. Bernstein, February 2018
Who Ya Gonna Call?
Every member of Schirmer Theatrical’s creative team feels like an honorary Ghostbuster. It’s a continuing honor to produce the film with live orchestra version of Director and Producer Ivan Reitman’s film, and to read the themes that Composer Elmer Bernstein wrote to accompany each ectoplasmic encounter in the libraries, hotel ballrooms, and streets of New York City.
Since early 2018, we’ve been collaborating with Sony Pictures and GhostCorps to shape each live audiences’ experience with the film that began as a summer blockbuster when first released on June 8th, 1984. We worked closely with Peter M. Bernstein, son of the composer, to reconstruct and prepare the film score for live performance. We even worked with Dan Aykroyd, Dr. Raymond Stanz himself, to film exclusive concert content on the Sony Pictures lot.
Since October of 2018, with our debut performances by Orchestra Kentucky, the Greenville Symphony, and the Utah Symphony, we’ve been presenting orchestras with The Venkman Prize as Ghostbusters in Concert is performed in cities around the world, including in Melbourne, Liverpool, Dublin, Calgary, and Toronto.
For each Ghostbusters in Concert performance, Schirmer Theatrical strives to connect each orchestra with Ghostbusters fan clubs in their region, many of which are registered charities who annually fundraise for hospitals and non-profits in their community. Before and after the concert, you might catch members of your local Ghostbusters club waiting to greet you in the lobby with their proton packs, ghost traps, and Ectomobiles!
Visit Schirmer Theatrical’s fan club directory to view more pictures and find clubs near you!
FILM WITH LIVE ORCHESTRA
AN IVAN REITMAN FILM
MUSIC BY ELMER BERNSTEIN
A SCHIRMER THEATRICAL PRODUCTION
COLUMBIA PICTURES Presents
An IVAN REITMAN Film
A BLACK RHINO/BERNIE BRILLSTEIN Production
Starring BILL MURRAY · DAN AYKROYD
and SIGOURNEY WEAVER
Also Starring HAROLD RAMIS · RICK MORANIS
Music by ELMER BERNSTEIN
Executive Producer BERNIE BRILLSTEIN
Written by DAN AYKROYD and HAROLD RAMIS
Produced and Directed by IVAN REITMAN
GHOSTBUSTERS © 1984 Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. All rights reserved.
Robert Thompson, President & Creative Producer
Alyssa Foster, Producer
Peter M. Bernstein, Score Arranger & Consultant
Black Ink Presents, Technical Consulting
Marc Mann of Music Production Services, Inc., Synth Designer & Score Consultant
Jeff Sugg of Handmade Media, LLC, Production Designer
Ronen Shai, Production Editor & Senior Multimedia Editor
Schirmer Theatrical is a concert production company specializing in the creation of symphonic experiences, film with live orchestra concerts, and theatrical productions.