Merchants of Doubt, the documentary inspired by Naomi Oreskes and Eric Conway’s book about pundits-for-hire who speak as scientific authorities on toxic chemicals, pharmaceuticals and climate change. Merchants of Doubt is produced and directed by Academy® award nominee Robert Kenner. Adler has scored every documentary Kenner has directed over the last 20 years. Merchants of Doubt wass world premiering at the Telluride Film Festival, and received its Canadian premiere at the Toronto Film Festival September 9, 2014. Adler and Kenner last collaborated on Food, Inc., a documentary that revealed the shocking truths about what we eat and how it’s produced.
A look at the controversial scientific evidence surrounding some of the world’s most galvanizing, hot button issues, Merchants of Doubt brings a satirical, comedic eye to the world of carefully crafted messages that scientists are paid to push, disseminating conflicting information on public threats that have been well-studied. Adler comments, “My relationship with Robbie [Robert Kenner] began in 1993 when we worked together on the National Geographic Explorer’s The Lost Fleet of Guadalcanal. Since then we’ve developed our collaborative relationship with each other to where we have absolute honesty with each other. His direction to me on Merchants of Doubt was to think of it as a ‘comedy about the end of the world,’ a phrase which I wrote on a Post-It note and looked at while I was writing the score for the film. Though the film isn’t exactly that, it did help me create an atmosphere of irony in the score, where these scientists, these ‘Merchants of Doubt,’ went about their task of confusing the public. Then at times the score would move into a darker, more serious tone, portraying the profoundness of these issues that threaten our world.” Depending on the tone of the score at any given moment, Adler would favor certain instrumentation, utilizing marimba and celeste for the more playful main theme, then turning toward piano and woodwinds for a darker, more twisted tone.
Mark Adler has scored numerous film and TV projects in all genres including documentaries: Free To Play, Otter 501, Happy, and Race to Nowhere. Adler scored the HBO mini-series The Rat Pack, for which he won an Emmy award for Outstanding Musical Direction. Adler created original music for PBS’s The Blues episode “The Road to Memphis,” a show that had episodes produced by Robert Kenner and directed by Martin Scorsese and Clint Eastwood. His feature films include Nobel Son, Saving Lincoln, and Bottle Shock. Additionally, Adler wrote and produced source music for Philip Kaufman’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being and Henry and June. Mark Adler recently scored the documentary The Killing Fields of Dr. Haing S. Ngor.