Author: Bear McCreary

The Lord of the Rings: Appendices Part 1

SCORING “THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE RINGS OF POWER”
THE APPENDICES: PART 1
JOURNEY TO MIDDLE-EARTH

This blog entry is the first of a four-part series that will chronicle the personal journey that led me from reading The Hobbit as a boy to scoring The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s legendary novels and their appendices. This chapter will cover the ‘First Age’ of my career: my childhood discovery of fantasy genres and film music. Subsequent chapters will detail the challenges I faced composing, recording, and producing nine hours of music in nine months on this ambitious project.  Finally, I’ll share the thrills of performing the score publicly in the run-up to the show’s launch. For longtime readers, much of this first blog will be a recap of my early life, but I nevertheless wanted to take a few paragraphs to introduce myself to people who are probably new to this site.

(Attending the “The Rings of Power” premiere in Los Angeles, August 2022)
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Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank

This weekend marks the theatrical opening of Paramount’s animated feature Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank. Inspired by the iconic Mel Brooks’ classic Blazing Saddles, the film features an all-star cast led by Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Cera, Michelle Yeoh, Ricky Gervais, and the legendary Mel Brooks himself. I was honored to collaborate closely with the film’s producer and co-director Rob Minkoff (co-director of the original The Lion King) to compose the score and produce two songs for this hilarious family adventure film.

My journey on this film actually began six and a half years ago, which these days feels like a lifetime ago. I recall leaving the offices of Bad Robot on a crisp, windy afternoon in February of 2016, having just attended the final dub mix of 10 Cloverfield Lane, wondering where my career path would lead next. At that moment, I got a call from my agent who told me that producers of a new animated feature were looking for composers to submit demos. By the time I got home, they had sent ten minutes of footage, mostly pencil animatics with some fully produced CGI to my email inbox. Despite the rough form, the energy and comedy were palpable, and I caught myself laughing watching Samuel L. Jackson’s Samurai cat and Michael Cera’s helpless dog spar.

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This Game’s Called Murder

The right project always seems to come around at the right time. In the spring of 2020, I was in the midst of a variety of scoring projects when the Coronavirus pandemic hit.  My life and my work ground to an immediate screeching halt. Suddenly, I was stuck at home, unable to collaborate directly with filmmakers or musicians. While I had a few of my own personal projects to keep my creative flame burning, I found myself, for the first time in nearly twenty years, with relatively little professional scoring work while I waited for production to resume on series, films and games. All of sudden, along came This Game’s Called Murder.  

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Foundation

Isaac Asimov’s profoundly influential Foundation stories and novels chronicle humanity’s distant future, in which a mathematician named Hari Seldon develops psychohistory, a model that accurately predicts the behavior of large populations, and he uses it to foresee the downfall of the Galactica Empire. He and his band of exiled disciples strive to prepare humanity for the coming calamities and make possible the rebuilding of civilization. Many producers struggled to adapt the novels for the screen for decades. At last, David S. Goyer collaborated with Skydance Media to bring the saga to Apple TV+. I was thrilled to write the score for this massive outer space epic.

David S. Goyer and I have known each other for nearly a decade, having collaborated on such projects as Da Vinci’s Demons and Constantine. Years ago, he told me he was developing Asimov’s groundbreaking novels and my imagination exploded. I knew even then I wanted to write an epic hybrid score that blends a massive orchestra and choir with modern propulsive synths. I recalled from having read some of the novels in high school that the concept of mathematics featured prominently in the story. I realized that I would need to find a unique musical signature for math itself, if I were to really capture the spirit of Asimov’s Foundation in music. The ideas rolled around the back of my mind for a few years until at last, the series went into full production and I was brought on as composer.

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Masters of the Universe: Revelation

Masters of the Universe: Revelation, the new Netflix animated series from celebrated filmmaker Kevin Smith, continues the saga first popularized in the 1980’s by the Mattel toys and comic books, and the Filmation animated series He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. The series is a love letter to this classic era, designed to be nostalgic for fans like me who grew up with the characters forty years ago, and to also appeal to our children, who will enter the fictional world of Eternia for the first time. Revelation serves as a direct sequel to the classic saga by preserving the beloved character designs and occasional goofy one-liners. Simultaneously, the show expands the narrative horizons by raising the stakes, heightening emotional character arcs, and exploring darker themes. The producers reached out to me to craft a musical score that could support this ambitious show.

MEMORIES OF MOTU

I was born in 1979, near the cut off of the generation of kids who would grow up with He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. When I was a young child, He-Man and Star Wars were my first fantasy worlds. Though Star Wars was written with more narrative sophistication, I could visit Eternia every day as the Filmation series bombarded the airwaves. (This is before Netflix, kids. We watched what was on!)

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