I recently had the wonderful opportunity to work with Scott and Diane Peterson on their feature film “The Current”. The score blends a traditional Hollywood family-drama style with lighter fun moments driven primarily by acoustic guitar. I even did an original hip-hop track for source music in a supermarket scene!
“The Current is the story of Jake who is uprooted from the home he loves in Chicago when he gets a little too close to “big city” violence. Much to his disappointment, his parents buy a campground in rural Minnesota and drag him there kicking and screaming. It is a story about God’s plan for our lives and how sometimes we don’t realize it but God is gently guiding us along throughout our lives. The screenplay was a finalist for the Kairos Prize for Spiritually Uplifting Screenplays.”
More information is available at iifilms.com. Check out the trailer below:
The film is screening at and the first 20 attendees will receive a limited edition XO-7 Arbiter Mask and posters. The filmmakers will be in attendance and I believe a panel will follow the screening.
“Project Arbiter – A WWII sci-fi espionage story about a top secret O.S.S. unit. Captain Joseph Colburn is tasked with using a prototype invisibility suit to infiltrate a mysterious villa on the Polish border. Colburn’s mission abruptly begins when his plane is shot down. What is in the villa? What is Mixture 9? Participating filmmakers include Michael Chance (writer/director), Vicki de Mey (producer), Jason Beckwith (cinematographer), and Jesse Boots (VFX supervisor).”
I’ll be attending the screening, I’ve never been to Comic-Con but being that I’m a super-nerd, I am really looking forward to it! Congrats to Michael Chance and the rest of the cast and crew!
King of Miseries, a short film I scored directed by Tom Woodruff (Academy Award-winning character effects creator of Alien 3, X-Files and The Thing), written/produced by Michael Hayes and Brian Lubocki, and edited by Waldemar Centeno, will be premiering July 3rd on Dread Central.
The trailer for the film was released today on the site, and includes more detailed information about the film.
I recently discovered a fantastic site called Zen Pencils. Melbourne based artist Gavin Aung Than finds inspirational, thoughtful or otherwise motivational quotes from cool people and illustrates them in a comic style. The results are beautiful and effective and I love browsing his illustrations. His most recent work is of a quote by the super kickass John Green (author as well as host of the best Youtube series ever, Crash Course World History). The quote is great and the artwork stunning, but what really hooked my attention came from the comments. Matt Staples left the following 3-step process for earning money while doing what you love:
I’m excited to be a part of the Whatnot Industries music team on “The Hero”, a brand new show for TNT starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. The show premieres Thursday June 6th at 8pm on TNT. Many thanks to the show’s composer Russell Spurlock!
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson brings to TNT an epic competition testing the strength, courage, and integrity of a diverse group of nine individuals. Each week, the contestants will be tested, physically, mentally, and morally, as they try to prove that they truly deserve the title of “The Hero” and the life-changing grand prize that goes with it. With temptations around every corner, America watches to see what the contestants are willing to overcome, undergo, and sacrifice on behalf of themselves and others. In the end, it’s America’s call on who will be “The Hero.”
There’s a great interview with John Williams from all the way back in 1978. He was already insanely successful, having done Fiddler on the Roof, Jaws, and Star Wars, but who knew how many more decades of amazing music he would continue to compose!
The whole interview is long but worth reading, but what stood out to me was his comments about reading scripts before seeing a film.
Will you work from a script initially, or do you prefer some kind of visual stimulus?
My own preference is not to read scripts. It’s like when you read a novel; you envisage the locales, you cast the players in your mind. That’s the reason, I think, why people are so often disappointed by film versions of novels they have read — they don’t conform to their preconceptions. So I’d rather not read a script, and I tell producer that. I’d rather go into a projection room and react to the people and places and events — and particularly the rhythm — of the film itself.
I have often struggled with this issue because although it is fun to get involved in a film early, there is very little a script can tell you about the music. So much of the music is based on how the film feels, not just what the story is about. The timing of the performances and editing, the hues of the color scheme, and so many other visual factors have such a demanding effect on scoring that reading the script for me is merely a way to become a part of the conversation when a cut of the film may not yet be available.
And now with the authority of JW I feel like I am justified in not always being so eager to read scripts!
I was recently inspired by a post I stumbled upon about the concept of forward writing. I’ve read several books on writing that preach the wonders of free-writing, but the post brought it back to my attention. Free writing is the idea that you let your writing pour out like a stream, keeping the pen or cursor constantly moving forward and not worrying about editing.
The article reminded me of an app called iA Writer that features a “focus mode”. Basically only the sentence you are currently writing appears in the center of the screen in full black text, everything else around it fades into soft gray. If you really had to, you could look back and read what you just wrote, but the fading is amazingly effective in getting you to only think about the current sentence. You are forced to pay attention to the present moment in your writing, not what you wrote before. Mindful writing.
I read an article today from Wired about Google CEO Larry Page and how while most companies focus on improving by 10%, he strives to improve by 10x (or 1000%). If you’re not thinking big, you’re just keeping up.
As always, it got me wondering about how the idea might apply to film scoring. What are some things that a composer could improve 10x over?
Compose 10x faster
Produce 10x more music
Record with 10x more live musicians
Write pieces that are 10x longer (production music tends to require 1-2 minute pieces, when was the last time you wrote a 10-20 minute composition? And I don’t mean to picture.)
Get 10x more material out of a single piece of music. This could mean develop your motive further or also using a single piece to inspire 10 more pieces (a slower version, a minor version, etc)
Of course the 10x principle can apply to just about anything, but those are some of my first thoughts on writing film music. What do you think? What aspect of composing music for film could you improve 10 times over?