Here’s something I discovered mainly through my experience as a Creative Director in advertising: Always ask the director/producer/powers that be, “do you have any intense dislikes or allergies?” It’s the same question I ask whenever I invite anyone over for one of my home-cooked meals.
In advertising, I realized that the presentation of the work is often more important than the actual execution. We may have hit the ball out of the park and yet if the client can’t get past his own personal dislike of say, the color chartreuse, then the whole idea may be canned.
It’s the same thing with music. If you as director/producer of this film say to me I just can’t stand “Hollywood strings,” then I have a clue that this may be an item that kills anything I present. I would first need to understand what you mean by that term, which in this case was a director telling me he hated the sound of sustaining violins. Maybe it was the frequency that bugged him or maybe it was indelibly intertwined with some bad B movies of the 1940’s, whatever it is, I had to tread carefully whenever I used any violins.
What I’m getting at here is clearing the lines of communication between creative departments visual and audio. If there’s a sound or instrument or color that’s interfering with “getting the picture” then it’s an obstacle. Tell your Composer up front if you just can’t stand to hear trumpets that “sound like mariachi.” I’m sure he/she will not hold it against you.