Tag Archives: Interview

Danny Elfman talks Alice in Wonderland (2010)

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Danny Elfman talks Alice in Wonderland (2010)

If I’m perfectly honest, Alice in Wonderland (2010) should be included in my “Didn’t Think I’d Like it (But I did!)” series because, well, I really didn’t think I would like it when the previews arrived. But during my spring break that year I went to see the film because a friend of mine wanted to see it and I actually enjoyed it.

This film is actually something of a sequel to the first Alice in Wonderland (1951) because Alice is now grown up and has all but forgotten her childhood adventure in Wonderland (renamed here as “Underland”). Finding herself on the cusp of being forcefully pushed into a marriage she doesn’t want, Alice unexpectedly returns to Wonderland/Underland, where, as it turns out, she must slay the Jabberwocky, defeat the Red Queen and return the White Queen to power. Mayhem and insanity ensues.

One of the highlights of this film is the musical score by Danny Elfman. The composer is well known for his collaborations with Tim Burton, and this effort is one of their more memorable efforts in recent years.

In the brief interview I found, Elfman briefly talks about his work on the film’s score (I always love watching interviews like this one, I just wish they could be longer!). I hope you enjoy this interview clip.

If you’d like to learn more about the film scores of Danny Elfman, see here

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook 🙂

An Interview with Adam Blau, part 1

Not long before Christmas I received an email inquiring if I would like to interview Adam Blau, a composer of film and television scores who currently works on the hit FXX show You’re The Worst (2014-present). I accepted and this past Sunday evening I had the pleasure of interviewing Adam and talking about his work.

(From Adam’s official bio): Adam is a rising star in the comedy world, with many directors entrusting his musical talents to bolster their projects, often working closely with writers and performers to lend a strong and humorous musical sensibility to their projects. His music has uplifted projects by some of the world’s most popular comedians, including truTV’s Billy on the Street, starring Billy Eichner; NBC’s Mulaney, starring John Mulaney; several Funny or Die shorts; and IFC’s upcoming Brockmire starring Hank Azaria. In addition to composing score, Adam regularly collaborates with the showrunners and writers of projects to create and develop a variety of songs for special episodes – songs ranging from “serious” to intentionally over-the-top satires.

Adam has also scored music and written songs for celebrated films like Warner Bros.’ License to Wed, starring Robin Williams, Mandy Moore and John Krasinski; SXSW favorite The Overbrook Brothers; Phoebe in Wonderland, starring Elle Fanning; and Indian Pictures’ Fuzz Track City. Known for his expertise in percussion, Adam has spearheaded specialty drumline sessions for high profile projects, including Christophe Beck’s We Are Marshall and Mark Isham’s The Express, as well as arranging and producing world percussion for Joel McNeely’s scores to Disney’s popular Tinker Bell films.

The interview is broken up into several parts, with my questions in bold. I’d like to thank Adam for taking the time to talk with me and I hope you enjoy part 1 of the interview.

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What got you interested in composing for film and television?
Well, I had been a musician to some extent for most of my life…I started playing when I was very young, and I’ve always been involved with music in some capacity. And while I was living in New York I was pretty active in theater, music directing and accompanying, that kind of thing. As part of that, I had some friends who were writing comedy shows and they needed some interstitial music between scenes, or maybe they needed a song, and so I would help them out and it was really fun. And as an extension of that I wrote some songs for a friends show in Los Angeles, and while I was visiting LA I met a couple of people who needed some extra music for a film they were working on, they’d had a composer drop out of the production and so from New York I experimented with some music for this film and I ended up really enjoying it. In fact, I ended up being “bitten by the bug” and picked everything up and moved from New York to LA and it seems to have worked out pretty well so far.
Are you inspired by any particular composer?
In general sure, I have those (soundtracks) I like to listen to independent of the film, but being so involved in multiple facets of music production, it’s rare these days for me to be listening to any current film scores while I’m composing, because I do so much of that as part of my actual work. But Carter Burwell’s score for Adaptation is a big one, it really got me in tune with what a film score could be/should be…in terms of what I’m writing, so much of the scoring process is dependent on the material and who I’m working with. There is an extent to which it’s a bit of a service industry because I’m writing music for what is essentially someone else’s vision. I think a huge part of the job is finding out what the vision is for the director and seeing how the music can best manifest that idea for them. Now I’m going to put my on thumbprint on it one way or the other, but especially in writing for television comedy, it’s writing in a particular style, usually to form the “punchline.” So I do listen to works by several composers, but in terms of my current writing, they don’t really influence/inspire me in that sort of way, because it’s dependent on what the director needs.

That’s all for part 1, part 2 should be uploaded by Friday night or Saturday morning at the latest. You can follow Adam on Twitter at @adamblau and if you’re curious about You’re the Worst, seasons 1 and 2 are currently streaming on Hulu (seriously, you should check this show out if you haven’t before, it’s hilarious and at times very serious). Thanks for reading!

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook 🙂

John Debney talks The Jungle Book (2016)

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John Debney talks The Jungle Book (2016)

It’s no secret that I have mixed feelings about the live-action Disney remakes. It just so happens that The Jungle Book (2016) is one I dislike, only because I have very strong feelings for the animated original. My own feelings for the work aside, I have heard that the score was well done, not surprising since it was composed by John Debney (his musical magnum opus remains the score for The Passion of the Christ (2004)).

In this short interview, Debney talks about how he came to work on the score for the film, what kind of vision the director had and how Mowgli needed a theme of his own. But that’s not all I discovered. I also found a B-roll of footage from the scoring sessions, and I’m pleased to share it with you here. Please note around 1:58-2:00 the giant score that the composer is flipping through. You can also see a beat counter next to his head at the beginning of the video.

The Jungle Book scoring session B-Roll (2016)

I love watching scoring sessions, it’s something I really hope to witness firsthand someday in the future. I hope you enjoy this interview and the footage from the soundstage. I have a lot more interviews queued up and I can’t wait to finally get them published!

If you’d like to learn more about the film scores of John Debney, see here

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook 🙂

James Horner talks The Rocketeer (1991)

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James Horner talks The Rocketeer (1991)

In 1991, Walt Disney Studios released The Rocketeer, a period film set in 1938, which told the story of how a stunt pilot named Cliff Secord discovered a prototype jetpack that could enable him to fly without a plane. He uses this device to become “The Rocketeer”, a hero and a media sensation. Before the story is over, Cliff will have to use all his skills to save the girl he loves from some Nazi spies, including one hidden right in their midst!

While the movie was favorably received, it didn’t perform well enough to justify continuing the story and plans for a set of sequels were cancelled (which is a shame, I remember enjoying this movie very much, though I found a hard time accepting Timothy Dalton as a villain).

James Horner was selected to compose and conduct the score for this film and the score is still highly praised as one of the stronger elements of the film. I think it’s interesting to listen to how he composed music before his big successes in 1995 and 1997 respectively. I hope you enjoy this all too brief interview with James Horner regarding his work on this film. Please enjoy! -Bex

If you’re interested in learning more about James Horner’s film scores, see here

*poster image is the property of Walt Disney Studios

Thomas Newman talks Wall-E (2008)

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In 2008 Pixar made the leap into outer space and released a film named WALL-E, a touching tale about a waste-cleaning robot named WALL-E who works all alone on a garbage covered Earth in 2805. Having spent so many years alone (the other robots having long since broken down), WALL-E has developed an individual consciousness and identity of his own: he salvages items he deems “special” and keeps them in his “home” (such items include an ancient tape copy of Hello, Dolly). The monotony of WALL-E’s life changes dramatically when he discovers a plant seedling; not long afterward, a strange ship arrives bearing a feminine robot named EVE. WALL-E (being very lonely) falls in love and embarks on a huge adventure that, ultimately, will save the long absent human race once and for all.

Thomas Newman talks Wall-E (2008)

Composer Thomas Newman had worked very well with director Andrew Stanton on Finding Nemo (2003) and began working on the score as early as 2005 (EVE’s theme was first arranged in 2007). Newman found the score to be a good challenge, as the first portion of the film is largely silent (with no dialogue in the traditional sense). Stanton had originally envisioned a purely orchestral score, but Newman eventually included electronic elements as well. Several scenes also include selections from previously composed works, most notably Hello Dolly! and La vie en rose (as performed by Louis Armstrong) during a sequence between EVE and WALL-E on Earth. Newman’s score was nominated at the Academy Awards for Best Original Score and Best Original Song, but it lost to Slumdog Millionaire (2008).

Interestingly, with the film making several references to Hello Dolly!, it’s cool to note that Thomas Newman’s uncle Lionel Newman (1916-1989) worked on that production.

WALL-E is such an adorable film, and it’s commentary on society (most notably how it deals with consumerism) makes it a must-see for all ages. Please enjoy this behind the scenes look at the score of this film.

If you’d like to learn more about the film scores of Thomas Newman, see here

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook 🙂

*poster image is the property of Walt Disney/Pixar

James Horner talks A Beautiful Mind (2001)

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Unbelievably, it’s been 15 years since A Beautiful Mind took the cinematic world by storm. Based on the real-life story of mathematician John Nash (1928-2015), the film follows Nash from his days at Princeton, through his diagnosis with paranoid schizophrenia and the struggles that came with dealing with an illness that was not well understood yet.

A Beautiful Mind took home four Academy Awards: Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Picture, Best Director and Best Supporting Actress. It also received four additional nominations for Best Actor, Best Film Editing, Best Makeup and Best Original Score.

I don’t remember exactly when I saw this movie for the first time, but I do remember it had something to do with school (we might have been learning about mental illness). I should also mention that I knew nothing about Nash before watching this film, so the revelation that so many of Nash’s “friends” were delusions came as a huge surprise to me, and it made me question every interaction Nash had for the rest of the film.

James Horner talks A Beautiful Mind (2001)

For this film, director Ron Howard called upon composer James Horner to assemble the musical score and oh did he ever! Horner gives an eloquent description of how he assembled the musical themes for this film and not only that, he also described his thought process for creating a film score in general (he compares it to painting, which is just beautiful!) Considering it’s been just under a year since he passed away, I felt a few tears come to my eyes, knowing that a talent like this was gone from the world.

Please enjoy listening to how the music for A Beautiful Mind was put together!

If you’re interested in learning more about James Horner’s film scores, see here

*the film poster is the property of Universal Pictures

James Horner talks The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)

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Beginning in 2010, Columbia Pictures decided to reboot the Spider-Man franchise (that had previously starred Tobey Maguire from 2002-2007) and recast the title role with Andrew Garfield. The film was very well received, with Garfield’s performance being highly praised.

The film, being a reboot, starts the story of Peter Parker over again, showing how he develops from a bullied teen into a superhero after a genetically modified spider bites him. Parker begins using his abilities to hunt down criminals, and eventually must stop a rampaging villain known as the Lizard (who has also discovered that Spider-Man is Parker!) The story was continued in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014).

James Horner talks The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)

James Horner was brought in to compose the musical score for the film. On that merit alone, I would recommend this soundtrack to anyone (because by this stage in his career, Horner had writing film music down to a fine art). I admit I haven’t actually seen the reboot of Spider-Man, but the general consensus is that it is a good film worth seeing. Please enjoy this behind the scenes look at the scoring of The Amazing Spider-Man, featuring the one and only James Horner (it sends chills down my spine to see him conducting the orchestra, he was surely a master of his craft), enjoy!!

If you’re interested in learning more about James Horner’s film scores, see here

*the film poster is the property of Columbia Pictures