I have always loved Halloween mazes and slasher horror films. I had the opportunity to combine those thrills by scoring the new Lionsgate / CBS Films feature, Hell Fest, which opened theatrically last weekend. For anyone who has been to a Halloween maze, this film’s central premise is quite disturbing. Structured like a classic slasher, the story is about a group of teenagers who go to a traveling Halloween maze, Hell Fest, only to become the latest prey for a masked killer who continually strikes and then disappears into the crowd of costumed freaks.
Hell Fest allowed me to work again with several of my favorite creative partners, including director Gregory Plotkin, with whom I collaborated as the editor on last year’s phenomenal Happy Death Day, and Gale Anne Hurd, the inspiring producer who brought me on board The Walking Dead nearly a decade ago.(more…)
2018 has blasted by in a flash! The last few months have been a whirlwind, and I realize I’ve fallen a bit behind with my blog. With this update, I plan on catching up on a few of the projects I’ve scored that have come out this summer, and I will look ahead at what is over the horizon for the rest of the year.
AURORA – QUEENDOM COME
First up, I was thrilled to collaborate with singer-songwriter AURORA to produce a Celtic-inspired version of her track “Queendom Come.” The single was used by Electronic Arts for the official E3 reveal trailer for Unravel Two.
Last spring, I got a call from my friend Steve Schnur at EA who said that the marketing team really loved this particular AURORA song, but wished it had a more acoustic, even Celtic, sound. Somehow, Steve thought of me as someone who might enjoy doing music in this style! I listened to her song and fell in love with it immediately. The harmonic progression was satisfying, the melody and vocals were haunting, and the lyrics were nostalgic and moving. I knew right away I would have a blast working on the track.(more…)
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…)
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…)
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…)
In Colossal, the visionary new film from acclaimed director Nacho Vigalondo, Anne Hathaway plays Gloria, a recovering alcoholic who moves back to her hometown and reconnects with her childhood friend Oscar, played by Jason Sudeikis. This well-constructed character drama operates on multiple levels, tackling alcoholism, peer pressure, and gender roles, while offering an insightful commentary on the dynamics of abusive relationships. Oh, and Gloria can manipulate a giant lizard monster that rampages through Korea. That happens too.
I have long dreamed of hearing my music in a film at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival. I can safely say that this last week, attending Sundance in support of not one, but three, unique films, is literally beyond my wildest dreams!
My journey to Sundance began two and a half years ago. The month my daughter was born, I realized that my career was not all I wanted it to be. My television career was at an all-time high, but my progress into in other mediums, especially film, videogames, theater, and live performance, had stalled. I partnered with Richard Kraft and Laura Engel and began pursuing every film opportunity I could. I wanted to work in new genres, to reach into both studio and independent films. (more…)