A Q&A with Film Score Composer & Music Supervisor Crystal Grooms Mangano

  1. What projects are you working on these days?

    Recently I’ve completed the scores for a couple of very different projects. The feature horror/thriller No Escape starring Keegan Allen (Pretty Little Liars) was released theatrically September 2020 and is now available on Hulu.  I have also completed the score for the feature documentary Duty Free which premiered with high praise at the 2020 DOC NYC Festival. Additionally, a sci-fi short film I scored, Laws of the Universe, premiered in 2020 on DUST channel. In the spring of 2020 I released an instrumental album titled Parallels and am currently working on my next album with a plan to release it later this year.

  2. Do your scoring techniques differ when handling such different genres?

    Overall, I love to explore new sounds and textures, but I approach the role of the score differently according to the genre. With a documentary like Duty Free, I find myself deeply invested in the subjects of the film and tend to approach the music with thoughtful consideration to accurately represent the authenticity of the people involved. With a horror movie like Follow Me, I find that the larger-than-life elements of the film make the experience really exciting and fun and there’s a little more room to play.

  3. Knowing that you also actively work as a music supervisor, how do these two careers affect each other?

    I like the balance of working both as a composer and as a music supervisor. As a composer, I use my own voice to express the film’s emotion through music. As a music supervisor, I have the opportunity to discover and use other voices to contribute to the vision of the film. Both allow me to work with and learn from other artists. Bringing perspectives from each position to the other helps me understand the scope and possibilities of music for film and television.

  4. Is there a specific film, nomination or person that you feel advanced your career?

    In 2016 I scored the documentary Asperger’s Are Us, which was accepted to that year’s SXSW Film Festival. It was an exciting and inspiring experience, and for the first time I felt part of the independent film community. My score went on to be nominated for a Hollywood Music in Media award alongside many notable composers that I admire. My experience with this film gave me the confidence to stay the course and continue to pursue new projects.

  5. If you could go back in time and give yourself career advice, how old would the younger Crystal be? What would you tell her?

    I can think of an ample amount of life advice I could give to younger Crystal, but specifically related to a career as a composer, one thought stands out. I was always a very serious student.  This helped me in many ways, keeping me focused and determined, but it also prevented me from taking risks. For example, I focused on perfection in what I said, did or wrote. As a result, classes like improvisation intimidated me. Looking back to college, I wish I would have taken those classes and put myself in those vulnerable positions. Being more comfortable with risk at an earlier age would have improved my compositions and made me a more relaxed musician.

    Interview by Esin Aydingoz

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