Actress Shanon Purser, screenwriter Lindsey Beer and songwriter Leland talk about the standout musical moment of Netflix"s new teen rom-com, "Sierra Burgess Is a Loser."

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The four of them looked through the script together andexpanded on Beer’s lyrics khổng lồ compose “Sunflower” — và then they wrote two more songs, “The Other Side” and “Kid Wonder,” to boot. Leland even made artwork for the demos before submitting them. Once Watkins told him that everyone at the film’s production company, đen Label Media, was listening to lớn “Sunflower” on repeat in tears, he nominated himself and Inscore to lớn score the film.

There are two versions of “Sunflower” on the film’s soundtrack, the first release from Leland’s label, Good Pop. Purser’s —which marked her first time in a recording studio —is all stripped-down emotion. “What I love about it so much is that you can hear her acting in it, especially toward the end. I didn’t want this to lớn be a perfect studio version, I wanted it to be the same performance as the movie,” Leland says. “I really think we captured something special.”


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When Purser filmed Sierra’s keyboard-backed performance on set, there wasn’t a dry eye, Beer says. “The entire crew was in tears, men and women included,” she recalls.“There were definitely some ugly crying faces. I was on mix every day, but it was super special because my sister, who’s an exec producer on the filmand read và gave me notes on every draft, happened lớn be there that day. & one of our best friends và agents, who set up the film with black Label, was there that day, too. So it was just one of those days where we were surrounded by people we loved, and it was a really special scene that was filmed.”

Purser was too nervous và focused to lớn register the sobfest on phối — “Maybe that’s a good thing,” she says, “because I feel lượt thích I would have gotten emotional, too” —but she understands why the song touches people:“It felt lượt thích something I probably would have written in high school, too. Just this idea of not fitting in and being overlooked because I feel like I don’t look lượt thích all the other girls or I feel out of place … There’s just something about that that really resonated with me, so it really didn’t take a lot of extra work to lớn make that real for me.”

The second, full version of “Sunflower” is Allie X’s synthesizer-soaked track that plays over the end credits. “I wanted it lớn feel nostalgicbut also cater to lớn the lyric, and the lyric is not necessarily a happy lyric — it’s a sad, emotional lyric,” Leland says. “But thankfully, as the movie plays out, the tuy nhiên almost takes on a different meaning toward the end, when you recognize that Jamey does see Sierra for who she really is and not for someone she has khổng lồ pretend khổng lồ be.”


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That happy ending explains why Leland & Inscore had to scrap their original plan lớn use Allie X’sversion of “Sunflower” during the movie’s final scene, when Jamey takes Sierra to lớn the homecoming dance after showing up at her house lớn tell her that Veronica played him her song — & that, for the record, he thinks “roses are more lượt thích the bitchy supermodels of flowers.”

As Jamey kisses pink-polka-dot-wearing Sierra in the headlights of his parked car, intentional homages to lớn John Hughes’ Pretty in Pink, Leland’s tuy nhiên “Middle of Love,”a duet withsinger VINCINT, kicks in instead. “Allie’s ‘Sunflower’ didn’t feel final. It didn’t have this joyous ending that the director & Lindsey wanted. So we said, ‘Let’s go back and try to write an uptempo ‘80s-like anthem,’” Leland says. “This wasn’t like, ‘Let’s just throw something together.’ I tried five different verse ideas, five different chorus ideas, and finally came around to lớn the version of ‘Middle of Love’ that’s in the final scene.”

Once again, he pulled inspiration from the movie’s plot. “The opening lyric is, ‘I only write love letters to you now.’ I wanted everything lớn be authentic now, và for Sierra to lớn feel confident in who she is,” Leland says. “The pre-chorus is, ‘So let’s ride this right into the sunset, tell me are we there yet, I don’t even care/ It’s like I saw you in the distance, now I’ve got you kissing me in the night air.’ & the chorus is, ‘Baby, don’t you know? Don’t you know? Don’t you know where we are? We’re in the middle of love.’”

Because Sierra Burgess is the first film Leland has scored, there were plenty of other new challenges for him: writing lyrics that evoke the theme of a scene but don’t distract from it, penning an original song that could play on the radio in the background và then transition into actual score. Yet Leland, who also contributed music lớn the upcoming gay-conversion drama Boy Erased, was quickly hooked on the process. He thinks back khổng lồ the first scene he and Inscore scored — when Jamey closes his eyes and unknowingly kisses Sierra in the parking lot after his date with Veronica. “It was really emotional for me because Bram & I were sitting in his studio surrounded by like 20 synthesizers, a grand piano, all these instruments. That was intimidating and overwhelming thinking, ‘Okay, so we can create anything in this moment. Where vì chưng we begin?’” he says. “That was the moment where I realized this is what I want lớn be doing more of.”