How did you start your composing career?
I started out as a composer for concert music before scoring for film/tv, and I feel at home writing for soloists and ensembles. When I was younger, I felt like I needed to focus solely on film scoring if I wanted to be taken seriously, but I’ve found that there’s actually more and more composers working across many different mediums and doing well at it.
One of your most recent projects was “Seize & Secure: The Battle for La Fière”, a documentary commissioned by The National WWII Museum! Can you tell us more about this project and what was it like to be collaborating with a museum?
“Seize and Secure: The Battle for La Fière” tells the story of a relatively unknown, but pivotal battle to secure a critical route inland for allied forces invading Normandy, France on D-Day. The documentary features accounts from some of the paratroopers and glidermen of the 82nd Airborne Division who fought this battle. The film was commissioned by The National WWII Museum and co-produced with PBS.
This was a dream project for me, and I loved collaborating with the museum! The archival footage they have is remarkable and many special details were included such as recording firing weapons from the museum’s collection for the sound effects. It was important to them to have a live score, and so we were able to record an orchestra in Budapest. The documentary aired nationally across PBS stations and premiered at the Museum on the 75th Anniversary of D-Day. “Seize and Secure” went on to win a Suncoast EMMY Award, and is available to stream on iTunes, Amazon and PBS.
What were the advantages and disadvantages of recording in Budapest?
This was my first time recording in Budapest. I would say the advantages were that the orchestra is constantly working and so they played together effortlessly from the first take. The remote process was seamless, and the recordings turned out beautifully. The disadvantages were not being there in person and making choices during the session based off of what I heard through an internet connection, rather than being in the booth. The time difference was another factor, as the session was scheduled for 4 AM my time! Lots of coffee was consumed that day. 🙂
Do you notice any differences between your creative process for narrative films and documentaries?
I think the biggest difference is with documentaries I am conscious of the fact that there are real people/subjects, and I tend to approach scoring differently as a result. With “Seize and Secure” these were soldiers recounting harrowing moments of warfare, and I tried to score with as much reverence and restraint as I could so as not to overshadow their stories. With narrative film, I usually find so much inspiration in everything from the story, to the cinematography, body language/movements of the actors, camera placement, etc. I love to get swept up within that world and then set about matching the tone with music. I enjoy working in both genres, they each have their own languages.
Knowing that you’re based in NYC and San Francisco, how would you compare the effects of these two cities in your career?
This one is a bit tricky now with COVID, but in NYC I feel there is a lot of independent film and TV/Advertising work happening, as well as several great film schools. Although the community of composers is not as big as say LA, I feel there is a supportive community. I always feel welcome at any of the SCL, ASCAP or NYWIFT events I’ve attended. The Bay area is a newer experience for me, but I am enjoying meeting new people within the animation and documentary world. California is also so varied and picturesque, it’s hard not to be inspired by the beautiful landscape. The world is rapidly changing, and it does feel like this might open up new places for working down the road.
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