The Cloverfield Paradox sent shockwaves throughout the entertainment industry when it debuted on Netflix mere hours after its first and only trailer during the Super Bowl. I was thrilled to return to the franchise as a member of the creative team for this ambitious entry in J.J. Abrams’ monster saga, and compose a ‘spiritual successor’ to my previous score in the series, 10 Cloverfield Lane.
LIGHT SPOILERS AHEAD: I was fortunate to be brought on board The Cloverfield Paradox early. I had opportunities to visit the set on multiple occasions, and found inspiration wandering through the elaborate and serpentine hallways. I felt an immediate sense of claustrophobia, a memory I would draw upon later while composing the music. While the film was finishing production, I experimented with tones, colors and ambiences, building up a unique sound palette.(more…)
Phillip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams is a new science fiction anthology series, making its United States debut this weekend on Amazon. The series assembled versatile writers, producers and directors (including Dick’s daughter Isa Dick Hackett), to reimagine original stories by one of the genre’s greatest authors. I was honored to join this brain trust, scoring three episodes: “Real Life,” “Impossible Planet” and “Kill All Others.”
While the series’ vision was held together by a close group of producers, each episode was treated like a stand-alone film, with unique writers, directors, and in most cases even composers. I had to reinvent my sonic and thematic palette from episode to episode, with no material carrying over from one to the next.(more…)
In the second half of Outlander‘s epic third season, our characters undertake a harrowing journey, setting sail across the Atlantic to Jamaica, in search of Young Ian. Like the show’s move to the courts of Paris in Season Two, this massive shift in geography had to be acknowledged with an equally seismic shift in the score. I cannot imagine any project other than Outlander that would allow me to set a soaring bagpipe melody over blistering congas!
A new musical language is evident immediately in the main title of the ninth episode, “The Doldrums.” Here, “The Skye Boat Song” begins, as always, with Raya Yarbrough’s haunting solo vocal, but is unexpectedly accompanied by exotic percussion!
How might one score a film primarily using floppy disc drives and an electric violin? This was the question at the core of my experience scoring Revolt, a new science fiction film starring Lee Pace.
In the film, Pace plays Bo, a soldier who awakens in an African jail cell, suffering from long-term memory loss, only to discover that humanity is in the final stages of a violent alien invasion. He teams up with a doctor named Nadia, and together they trek across the post-apocalyptic African wilderness, avoiding the robotic unmanned ‘drones,’ machines intent on killing or rounding up the last surviving members of the human species. (more…)
What would happen if you were stalked and killed on your birthday, only to awaken back in the morning on that same day, seemingly doomed to live it all over again? This Groundhog-Day-meets-Scream concept is at the heart of the new light-hearted horror comedy from Universal and Blumhouse Productions: Happy Death Day. I was thrilled to collaborate with director Christopher Landon, and to score this film that has become a surprise October hit.
After I read the enticing script, I met with Chris and editor Greg Plotkin at the Blumhouse offices last spring. I was immediately struck by their delightful and friendly personalities, and knew these were guys I wanted to spend some time with. They showed me the film, and we fell into an enthusiastic conversation about the near-infinite musical possibilities presented by a time-loop-horror-comedy set at a college. I was brought on board the film right away, and my mind raced. (more…)
Tonight, the Season Eight premiere of The Walking Dead airs on AMC, marking my 100th score for the series’ 100th episode. This season promises “all out war,” as Rick and his armies battle to free themselves from the iron-fisted rule of Negan and his Saviors. These upcoming episodes will live up to this promise, and more, as they deliver all the intense action, drama and revelations that fans have come to expect from this juggernaut worldwide hit series.
This weekend also marks an important personal milestone: the long-awaited release of my original score soundtrack album, thanks to a joint partnership from Lakeshore Records and Sparks & Shadows. The album is available digitally, on CD, and also on vinyl, with a limited run of signed CDs available from La-La Land Records (UPDATE: by the time I finished this blog entry, the signed copies sold out!). And for those of you in Los Angeles, I will be appearing at a signing at Dark Delicacies in Burbank on Saturday, October 28th. If you’ve been waiting for this album to come out for a while, there are, at last, plenty of ways to get your hands on it! (more…)
I don’t believe I’ve tackled a season of television as richly rewarding as Outlander’s Season Three. Separated by centuries in Season Two’s heart-wrenching finale, Jamie and Claire spend the first five episodes isolated in their own timelines, a narrative journey that spans two decades. This season allowed me to further develop familiar themes, and introduce new melodies, instrumentation, and nuance to the score.
A new season of Outlander would not be complete without a distinct variation of “The Skye Boat Song” for its main title. I introduced the tune in Season One, combining Scottish folk instrumentation, orchestra and the voice of Raya Yarbrough. At the start of Season Two, I rearranged it for baroque instrumentation, while Raya performed certain passages in French. That was followed up by a patriotic rendition, emphasizing Scottish snare drums and bagpipes, underscoring the build up to the Battle of Culloden. (more…)
Unrest marks my first score for a documentary feature. Scoring this film for Jennifer Brea was a completely new experience, and expanded my perspective on the vital relationship between composer and filmmaker.
A young Harvard PhD student with her whole life before her, Jennifer Brea, was suddenly struck with a fever that left her bedridden. Medical tests proved unsatisfying and inadequate. When doctors finally told her it was “all in her head,” Jennifer began documenting her experience with myalgic encephalomyelitis (M.E.). This affliction, misleadingly called “chronic fatigue syndrome,” affects millions of people around the world, disproportionally women, and yet research pertaining to it is tragically underfunded. Unrest expanded beyond Jennifer’s own experience to include stories like hers from around the globe. It heralds the growing movement to have this condition recognized and properly funded and studied. Unrest debuted at Sundance, where it won a Special Jury Prize for editing. (more…)
I was raised by a novelist. My entire childhood was accompanied by the incessant percussive tap dance of my mother’s fingers against typewriter keys. Those sounds flooded back into my mind when I first read Danny Strong’s visceral script for his directorial debut, the J.D. Salinger biopic Rebel in the Rye. I was struck by the story’s focus on the internal struggles universal to all creative people. Though I express myself with notes instead of words, I could relate to Jerry Salinger’s experience. I knew instantly I had to be involved in with this film. This week marks the end of that journey. The film has opened in New York and Los Angeles, will expand to wider markets next weekend, and the soundtrack has just been released by Sparks & Shadows.
Even before he began shooting, Danny Strong felt that one of the composers whose music was relevant to his film was Elmer Bernstein. Hearing that, my agent, Richard Kraft, enthusiastically recommended me, since I was Elmer’s last protégé and worked with him for nearly a decade. Danny was intrigued, but ironically, my own credits – predominantly science fiction, horror and fantasy television – worked against me. Even I knew I was not an obvious fit for Rebel in the Rye. Determined to convince Danny, I wrote and produced several demos, over the course of six months. These works ultimately served as the creative catalyst for the score. (more…)
This weekend, I flew to New York City for a film premiere. That, by itself, is not unusual. Just a year ago, I was in the city for the world premiere of 10 Cloverfield Lane. This time, however, I was there not in support of a film I scored, but a film in which I am featured! Score: A Film Music Documentary, directed by Matthew Schrader, is the first feature-length documentary to explore the world of film music. As one of the dozens of composers featured in the film, I attended the premiere to help spread the word about this unique film.
The weekend was fun, exhausting and surprisingly illuminating. (more…)