Category: Films

Revolt

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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…)

Happy Death Day

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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.

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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

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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…)

Rebel in the Rye

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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…)

Score: A Film Music Documentary

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.

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The weekend was fun, exhausting and surprisingly illuminating. (more…)

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