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.(more…)
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.(more…)
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.(more…)
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!)(more…)
I will never forget the summer of 2009, when my unique band, The BSG Orchestra, rocked out on a crowded stage in San Diego during Comic Con, performing my score for Battlestar Galactica, just months after the epic series finale aired. The venue was bursting with my brilliant musicians, many of the cast, crew, writers, producers, and executives, as well as fans from around the world. Together, we experienced a collective euphoria, because we all loved the show with the same intense passion. After the last encore, the crowd erupted into an unprompted chant of “So Say We All,” a moment that remains one of the most magical and memorable of my life. As the house lights came up and the crowd dissipated, I collapsed into a sweat-soaked heap on the couch in the greenroom and realized that, for the first in my life, I had no new cues for the show to write. Battlestar Galactica had been the most significant part of my life for six years, and now, with this concert complete, it was over.(more…)
When I was a kid, Star Wars was one of my essential gateways into fiction, into visual storytelling, into film, and into music. I grew up so immersed in the Star Wars universe that I might have spent more time there in my imagination than I did living in the real world!
At age seven, I designed and built LEGO versions of dozens of vehicles, spanning my entire basement floor. I also constructed a Millennium Falcon out of paper plates and VHS cassette boxes (resulting in a model that has survived over thirty years in the closet at my mom’s house). At eight, I stitched together brown strips of fabric and scrap metal to create a Tusken Raider halloween costume. I also hand-wrote my own novelizations of each film, meticulously describing every edit and line of dialog, filling three spiral notebooks, hundreds of pages pressed with of thousands of scribbled lines. At nine, I made a word-search of alien words and names from the books and films that covered twenty pages of graph paper taped together. At ten, I transcribed for piano nearly every cue John Williams wrote for the entire saga, memorizing hours-long piano performances of the scores. I carried this passion with me into my young adulthood, where I waited in line for hours outside Mann’s Chinese Theater in Los Angeles, with my newfound college friends, to have our minds collectively blown by The Phantom Menace on the big screen.(more…)