This was an absolutely incredible experience that I will NEVER forget! Thank you so much to everyone at ASCAP especially Jen Harmon and Mike Todd; thank you to Peter Rotter and Encompass Music Partners; to Joe Zimmerman and all the wonderful folks at JoAnn Kane Music Services; every single person in that fantastic orchestra; all the people who work at the Fox Studio Lot and Newman Scoring Stage; Michael Ryan, John Debney, Charles Bernstein, Bruce Broughton, Armin Steiner, and Jeffrey Schindler; Amie Doherty, Nolan Markey & Fabrizio Mancinelli; and all of my fellow participants!
I was assigned the cue from Ice Age: Collision Course - I have only a tiny bit of experience working with animation, so this was definitely a huge challenge! I believe I rose to that challenge and created something really fun & dynamic that works for the scene, and hopefully was really fun for the players. Over the course of the month, we met so many incredible people from the industry sharing their time, expertise and advice. I forged lifelong friendships and had an absolute blast learning, growing, experiencing and getting to live out a long-held dream - conducting a 64 piece orchestra of LA’s finest, playing MY music! I’m hooked and intend to be back on that podium as soon as possible.
All of the above shots except the exterior of the building are from the lens of the very talented photographer Salvador Ochoa!
Grateful for this recognition from the Independent Shorts Awards! This is one of my favorite scores I’ve ever written for a beautiful short film. The festival run for VIRTUALLY is still going strong, so check their social media pages for dates in your area!
Virtually is enjoying a spectacular festival run at the moment - winning awards left and right, and connecting with audiences all over the world. I am so grateful to my director Patrick Hogan for bringing me on at the script level, and keeping me in the loop every step of production from the shoot to the final mix.
This collaboration began with the teaser trailer, and I was able to work with my favorite cellist Simone Vitucci again - she also graced the final score for Virtually and The Long Goodbye. We mixed the teaser at Paramount, and from there I was anxiously awaiting the final cut of the film, while developing themes and reflecting on the script.
I began writing at the start of summer 2018, but ended up hitting the pause button to head up to Skywalker Ranch for the 2018 Sundance Film Music Lab. I’m super grateful for the timing, though - because I came back from that experience with a whole new understanding of what it means to be a storyteller. I continued to write throughout the summer, and once Patrick had signed off on all the cues (a really fun, collaborative process), I brought Simone back to grace us with the beauty of her cello again.
Again we were back at Paramount for the final mix and the final product of the film brought tears to my eyes - it’s so beautifully done with a powerful, simple message of hope and love.
Virtually premiered at the Pasadena International Film Festival - then was off and running on the festival circuit!
Definitely one of the most special awards that Virtually has received so far, for me, is the Roddenberry Audience Choice Award at the Sci-On Film Festival in my hometown of Reno, NV - my parents were in attendance. They’ve given me so much incredible support throughout my entire life that I was super excited for them to be there on my behalf.
Looking forward to seeing exactly how far this little film goes, and as soon as I can, I’ll be linking to a playlist of the score for your listening enjoyment.
I am finally an official member of the TV Academy Music Peer Group - I really enjoyed voting in the first round last week. I have always loved the networking events they put on, so it’s fun to not be a plus one anymore! Such an honor to be able to engage with my brilliants colleagues’ work, and I hope to be nominated for an Emmy in the future!
I had a wonderful time at this beautiful yearly event - BMI knows how to throw an INCREDIBLE party! Being reunited with some of my beloved Sundance fellows was icing on the cake. Thanks again BMI (especially the incomparable Doreen Ringer-Ross and Reema Iqbal) for including me in this very special night celebrating the brilliance of our community - special congrats to Terence Blanchard and Bill Ross!
Huge thank you to 5 Alarm Music and Mothlight for this wonderful opportunity! I loved getting a chance to arrange the iconic Sting/Police song “Every Breath You Take” for pivotal moment in The Blacklist. We had a fantastic session at Savant Productions with some incredibly talented singers. Spoiler alert if you’re not caught up through the episode Lady Luck!
I want to thank BMI, the Sundance Institute. NYU and everyone who made my festival experience so fun and meaningful!
So happy to be reunited with my beloved Composer Fellows! First time we have all been together, just missing Bill, since July at the Ranch!
One of my favorite parts was the Composer Director Roundtable, where director and composer partnerships discussed their work, process and storytelling approach. The whole weekend was overwhelmingly full of too many great events I wanted to attend and films I wanted to see, but now I know I need to stay much longer next year!
This beautiful film is in the final sprint towards being finished, with a cast and crew screening coming next month. I could not be more proud of my involvement in this poignant, deeply affecting story, and the score that my director Karl Stelter and I worked very closely together to craft, shape and create.
The whole process culminated in a wonderful recording session at Speakeasy Sound, here in Burbank. We had some fantastic players on the score - Nicole Garcia and Simone Vitucci, who played cello on the original trailer!
Looking forward to sharing this with all of you! All photos courtesy of Rachel Stelter Photography.
Also very grateful to my friend and colleague Steve Shebby, who mixed the film at 5 Alarm and did a fantastic job!
“There are, it seems, two muses: The Muse of Inspiration, who gives us inarticulate visions and desires, and The Muse of Realization, who returns again and again to say ‘It is yet more difficult than you thought.’ This is the muse of form. It may be then that form serves us best when it works as an obstruction, to baffle us and deflect our intended course. It may be that when we no longer know what to do, we have come to our real work and when we no longer know which way to go, we have begun our real journey. The mind that is not baffled is not employed. The impeded stream is the one that sings.” - Wendell Berry
The above quote was included in Tabitha Jackson’s welcome message in our orientation materials. She is the director of the Documentary Film Program for the Sundance Institute. Every message in this orientation booklet was one of great interest to me, and great encouragement, but I was particularly intrigued by this one, and it stuck with me during my entire beautiful, fascinating, challenging, exhilarating two weeks at Skywalker Ranch. I was often baffled; but I often “sang” quite beautifully.
I find it difficult to put into words how much this experience meant to me. How can I articulate how deeply meaningful it was to work with Harry Gregson-Williams, with Thomas Newman, with Mark Isham, Tyler Bates, Heather McIntosh, Nora Kroll-Rosenbaum, and Adam Smalley? What it was like to grow and learn and explore alongside the seven other composer fellows chosen for this amazing opportunity this year - people who are now lifelong friends? How grateful I am for the mentorship and guidance of the incredible Peter Golub, and how thankful I am to everyone at Sundance and BMI for affording this experience to me? How much I fell in love with Skywalker Ranch, especially the Tech Building and everyone who works inside of it?
I came away from my two weeks at the Ranch a completely changed person. There were some days where I was so far out of my comfort zone, I felt like I was exploring a new planet - and in many ways we were, as both of our assignments the first week came from films that take place in outer space! I grew more as a composer and an artist than I could ever have imagined.
Please click the image below to shuffle through some images of my time at Skywalker.
I also would DEFINITELY be remiss if I didn’t mention how much it meant to me as the intense, obsessed Star Wars fan that I am and have been for thirty years, and how grateful I am to all of the guys who spent many hours with me discussing the saga and answering most of my questions - the ones they COULD, of course :)
I will forever look back at this experience as a turning point in my life and career. I came back and wrote the two best film scores I’ve ever written in my life. I feel more confident in my voice as a composer than ever before. I truly learned so much from all of these magnificent people and I adored every single moment I spent as a part of the Sundance Lab 2018. An extra special big huge thanks to Daniel Hymanson, my filmmaker and friend, who trusted me with his powerful, intimate and thought provoking documentary, Queen of the Battling Butterfly Brigade. Our creative partnership was fun, silly, emotional, and mind-blowing. Love you Daniel!
Click below to see some group pics of the amazing folk participating in the program this year.
I will close with the e.e. cummings quote that Thomas Newman relayed to me during our one-on-one session. “Almost anybody can learn to think or believe or know, but not a single human being can be taught to feel. Why? Because whenever you think or you believe or you know, you’re a lot of other people; but the moment you feel, you’re nobody-but-yourself. To be nobody-but-yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else - means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight, and never stop fighting.” Thank you to everyone who was a part of my experience at the Sundance Lab and Skywalker Sound - you are immeasurably helping me become nobody but myself, as a composer, an artist, and a person!
What a pleasure it was to be treated to box seats at the Bowl! Thank you to the RMA and Catherine Grealish, our wonderful Executive Director of the AWFC. It was so incredible to have Steven Spielberg there as special guest and hear his warm words about their 45-year collaboration. A truly amazing night with the Maestro!
I am looking forward to this experience immensely and remain incredibly grateful to Sundance & BMI for the opportunity. I've watched the film I'll be working on (I LOVE IT!) and connected with my director and sound designer, both incredibly talented, lovely people. Next, Skywalker Ranch!
Tickets are booked and the day is approaching - I am completely thrilled to have been chosen as a Composer Fellow in this year's Sundance Institute Film Music Lab, held at the legendary Skywalker Ranch.
Deeply grateful to Peter Golub & the team at Sundance, as well as Doreen Ringer-Ross and the team at BMI! Check out more about the Fellowship below.
Very grateful to have my arrangement of "Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence" as a featured use on The Blacklist recently! A very creepy scene...big thanks to 5 Alarm!
I could not be more excited about all the projects I have in production!
I'm back working with Night Owl Republic Films and my dear friend, the immensely talented director Addison Henderson. We have two more films in production, and wrapped on Neon Dreams earlier this year. It's a meditative, thought-provoking and dark sci-fi short that's very close to my heart.
I also had a great meeting today with Karl Stelter, a visionary director I've been excited to work with for so long. The Long Goodbye was shot last weekend on location in Arizona and I got to see some of the footage today - just gorgeous. This is such a powerful story and we've begun exploring what the sonic world of the film will be.
I also got to see the rough cut of VIRTUALLY and it is looking AMAZING! Been exploring themes and sound palettes for this project as well! I am thrilled to be working with the incredible Patrick Hogan and the wonderful team behind this post-apocalyptic romantic short.
Last but not least I've been brought on to compose the original score for LOOKING FOR LEIA, a six-part docuseries about women in the Star Wars Fandom. Anyone who knows even a little bit about me knows how obsessed I am with Star Wars, so I am completely honored to be helping tell the stories of all the incredibly diverse women featured in this groundbreaking project. You can check out the teaser trailer below!
A wonderful selection of scores have been nominated!
OF COURSE, my favorite and what I think will ultimately win the golden statuette: JOHN WILLIAMS, THE LAST JEDI. Powerfully complex, subtle, emotional, and the full power of a master on display.
Jonny Greenwood, always an incredible voice to listen to, has his first-time nomination with THE PHANTOM THREAD. Just gorgeous work!
I also really enjoy Alexandre Desplat's beautiful work on THE SHAPE OF WATER
Carter Burwell lends his unique vision to the evocative score for THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE OF EBBING, MISSOURI
Who will ever forget the viscerally powerful and blisteringly effective score for Dunkirk by Hans Zimmer?
I would have loved to see JOHN DEBNEY nominated for THE GREATEST SHOWMAN, MICHAEL ABELS for his work on GET OUT, as well as Tamar-Kali for her work on MUDBOUND. I also loved BENJAMIN WALLFISCH's score for IT.
Looking forward to watching the ceremony! Congrats to all!
2018 is off to a great start, with two fantastic short films I'm signed on to score starting production in the coming weeks, and one entering post-production as we speak. I'm also wrapping up work on an awesome Star Wars Fan Film, which of course I loved working on due to my intense 30+ year Star Wars obsession. And that brings me to Episode VIII, which I have already seen 7 times in the theater! OF COURSE - spoilers below!
I don't have words for how much I loved The Last Jedi and John Williams' sublime score. He's doing something so incredibly subtle with the way he manipulates the existing themes - building up to what I believe will be a treasure trove of new material in Episode IX. A few of my favorite selections are below!
I've been extremely lucky over the past 2 months to be invited to two very special scoring sessions. The first one was at the legendary Newman Scoring Stage on the Fox lot, and I was the guest of one of my favorite composers of all time and someone I'm lucky enough to call a true personal hero and friend. I can't really explain how satisfying and educational it was to see how a real, A-list, top level session is run. From the composer at the podium to the director to the concertmaster, everyone had a fun, seamless way of communicating and all the fine musicians in the orchestra and booth were clearly having the time of their lives. I sat transfixed hanging on every note.
The second session was at the Eastwood Scoring Stage closer to home, at Warner Brothers, also an incredible hall with generations of storied film scores having been recorded there. This featured the work of a composer I wasn't as familiar with, but again, I was so impressed with the music and professionalism on display. Once again there was that thrill in the air of pure enjoyment and happiness.
I am a firm believer in the idea that "if you can see it, you can be it." Now I can very clearly visualize being on these two stages recording my own music with these unbelievably gifted musicians. And now I see how months and months of hard work and painstaking process lead to that glorious moment when everything comes together through the bombastic sound of a full orchestra of LA's finest, and the director's face lights up as they hear the composer's vision taking their storytelling to new heights. Priceless education for me and I'm eternally grateful!
I am so excited to be working with a brilliant filmmaker and a crew of incredible artists on the upcoming short film, The Long Goodbye. The project is fundraising on Seed & Spark currently - this whole project means a lot to me as I recall the beautiful memories of my grandparents that I will always treasure. Take some time to check it out and if you feel so inclined, support the film! Thanks and CALL YOUR PARENTS/GRANDPARENTS! :) Family is Everything.