THE LONG GOODBYE

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.

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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!

 Our fantastic group from TLG Recording Session - Speakeasy Sound is such a great room!

Our fantastic group from TLG Recording Session - Speakeasy Sound is such a great room!

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!

Sundance Film Music and Sound Design Lab - the experience of a lifetime

“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.

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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?

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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 :)

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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.

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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!

Official Press Releases about the Sundance Lab

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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!

SO many amazing new projects!

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. 

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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. 

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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!

Congratulations Oscar nominees!

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!

HAPPY 2018 and HAPPY The Last Jedi!

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!

 John Williams at the scoring session for The Last Jedi

John Williams at the scoring session for The Last Jedi

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!

 Adam Driver in a star-making, Oscar-worthy performance as Kylo Ren/Ben Solo

Adam Driver in a star-making, Oscar-worthy performance as Kylo Ren/Ben Solo

 Daisy Ridley, also giving an incredible performance, in the mirror cave scene.

Daisy Ridley, also giving an incredible performance, in the mirror cave scene.

 Casino-goers in the Canto Bight scene. 

Casino-goers in the Canto Bight scene. 

 A NEW ALLIANCE

A NEW ALLIANCE

 ICONIC

ICONIC

Sitting in on incredible sessions and what it has taught me

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!

The Long Goodbye

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.

The Long Road Home

5 Alarm was brought on to do a custom arrangement of an amazing gospel song for a key scene in the NatGeo series, The Long Road Home. I was honored to do the arrangement and be at the session which took place at Savant Productions, with a group of incredibly talented singers. Kudos to the show runner, music supervisor and everyone involved in this powerful, important story. The score is being composed by Jeff Beal, one of my composing heroes. The Long Road Home is premiering soon and I will be sure to post our scene when it is available. 

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Emmy nominations

Congratulations to all the Emmy nominees, especially in the Music categories! Proud to see the names of so many 5 Alarm clients in the music supervision category, and so many composer heroes in the scoring category!

Another fun detail is that Dolly Parton's Christmas TV movie, "Dolly Parton's Christmas of Many Colors: Circle of Love" was nominated for Best TV Movie. I had some of my Christmas music featured in this TV movie, through 5 Alarm. So I can now say I've had a placement on an Emmy-nominated program!

2017 Oscars

For years I always wrote up my thoughts on the Oscars Best Original Score category - I'm excited to head to my mother in law's house this weekend for our annual Academy Awards get together!

Justin Hurwitz wrote a beautiful, jazzy, ear worm-y score for "La La Land" that is an homage to classic Hollywood. 

I have loved Dustin O'Halloran's work since hearing his achingly poignant and nostalgic theme for the TV show "Transparent." He is nominated for the film Lion and I really adore hearing his singular voice in this score.

Mica Levi's challenging score for Jackie is being praised as the "marrow of the narrative." Definitely unforgettably paired with the images and emotions of the film. 

Thomas Newman, beloved titan of film score, brings his signature touch of atmospheric emotion and longing to this incredible score for "Passengers"

And I saved my absolute favorite for last. I think "Moonlight" is a complete and utter masterpiece in every sense of the word. It is an incredibly poetic, moving, beautiful, important film, and Nicolas Britell's score is perfect in every way. I will never forget the way this music made me feel and how I wept watching this movie. This is my pic for the win!