Category: Blog

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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Looking Ahead – So Say We All

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.

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AVA

Ava, a sleek new, spy thriller stars Jessica Chastain, John Malkovich, Colin Farrell, Common, Joan Chen, and Geena Davis. The film, a Voltage picture, directed by Tate Taylor, hit VOD this fall. Jessica Chastain plays the title character, a remorseless assassin, who must wrestle with her own demons, and struggle with relationships she has wrecked or abandoned. The film is an ambitious combination of character study and assassin intrigue.

As a kid I immersed myself in orchestral film scores growing up, background that served me well for the last Voltage Picture I scored, The Professor and the Madman. That score’s Romantic chamber orchestra flourishes represent the total polar opposite of the musical needs of this film. Fortunately as a kid growing up in the 1990’s I also adored electronic music maturing in that era. Depeche Mode, Trent Reznor, Nine Inch Nails, and Marilyn Manson had a huge impact on my young brain and popular culture, as did the scores of composers such as Brad Fiedel (Terminator, Terminator 2, True Lies), Éric Serra (La Femme Nikita, The Fifth Element), the Dust Brothers (Fight Club), and Tom Tykwer, Johnny Klimek, and Reinhold Heil (Run Lola Run). I had always wanted to try my hand at a score written in the style pioneered by these artists. So, I was grateful to join Ava’s incredible creative team and be given the chance to compose a searing, predominantly electronic score for a spy thriller.

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Star Wars Tales From The Galaxy’s Edge

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.

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Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. – Saying Goodbye

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Saying goodbye is always bittersweet. With this week’s broadcast of the series finale of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., my seven-year journey on the show comes to a close. To commemorate this milestone, I produced a video blog that paints what I hope is an emotional picture of what it felt like to be in the room during the weekly orchestra sessions for this beloved show.

Back in 2013, I started out with ambitions of blogging and vlogging my entire experience. Over the course of a few years, I was gradually reduced to producing at most one or two videos a year. Regardless, during my time as composer for this epic show, my life changed several times over. With this blog, I will look back at just a few of the highlights that stand out in my memory. 

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