Category: Films

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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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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Pick One / Child’s Play Videos

In addition to writing music, I spent last spring writing, producing, and directing videos to help get that music out into the world. Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of my three recent shorts: “Pick One,” “Theme from Child’s Play (Official Music Video)” and “Child’s Play Announcement.”

PICK ONE

“Pick One” is the most cinematically and narratively ambitious short film I’ve tackled in a while. The film originated from a conversation with my friend and agent Richard Kraft in early May in which we strategized how to get the message out into the film industry that I scored four recent films in disparate genres and mediums.

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Rim of the World

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ORCHESTRAL ADVENTURES

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LIGHT SPOILERS AHEAD: In the new Netflix film Rim of the World, four kids meet at the titular summer camp before an alien invasion plunges the world into chaos. They must overcome their differences and embark on a journey to transport a vital cryptokey to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, with the fate of humanity in the balance. The film combines action, comedy, science fiction, and horror, with a coming-of-age story, and serves as an homage to the kid-centered adventure films popularized in the 1980s. I set out to compose an energetic, orchestral score in the style of my childhood heroes who were the masters of the genre, including Jerry Goldsmith, John Williams, Elmer Bernstein, Alan Silvestri, and James Horner.

Screenwriter Zack Stentz and I have been friends ever since we worked together on the short-lived yet beloved series Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. Zack sent me the script for Rim of the World in an early stage, and I was charmed by its adventurous spirit. My imagination went into overdrive and I immediately heard soaring French horns and swirling string orchestra textures! Acclaimed director McG eventually came on board the film and invited me to join his crew as composer for Rim of the World

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