An interview series with leading Motion Picture & Television Industry Composers 
Film & Television Composers score music to accompany a motion picture for film or television. This could include dramatic underscore as well as popular songwriting. The traditional role of a film composer is to provide the orchestral dramatic underscore, and only more recently has the popular soundtrack begun to stand on its own.
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Pictured (Under): "The Wrecking Crew"

Tyler Bates | Composer

Get Tyler: An Interview with Tyler Bates

By working on "Get Carter" you had an opportunity to take a recognizable and respected theme and re-approach it. How was it to take someone else's work and mold it to be your own?

I enjoyed it because I liked Budd's original score which I think is an interesting work of music in and of itself. He wrote the score nearly 30 years ago and recorded the entire bit for a meager 400 pounds. This includes songs, vocalists and an eclectic cast of musicians. I have a great deal of respect for any artist who doesn’t allow money to govern the extent of how far they will go to achieve the ultimate end results. I thought the opportunity to arrange Roy Budd’s theme for the year 2000 was great fun. Additionally, the visual style of the film lent itself to many interesting sonic possibilites, so I was able to incorporate a lot of unique elements into the piece as well as changing the melody instrument. Budd originally played it on a harpsichord. I used a marxophone to give it a different sound. The director and I talked about acquiring the rights to rearrange and re-orchestrate the original Budd theme early on in the project. I had yet to have the opportunity to do a project like that, so I seized it!

Kristopher Carter | "Batman Beyond" (2000)

Talking Beyond: with Kristopher Carter

You recently went to the Sundance Institute - what can you tell me about that program?

quote-leftRobert Redford started the Sundance Institute about 20 years ago to help foster the careers of up and coming directors and screenwriters. Recently they added a Composer's Lab to their curriculum. Like the filmmaker program, it was a fellowship - they only chose six people out of many applicants, so it was quite an honor to participate. We traveled to the Sundance resort in Utah, and studied for two weeks with a lot of great film composers. Carter Burwell came out, as did Shirley Walker, Mychael Danna, and George S. Clinton. We also got to meet that year's directing fellows - we were paired up with them, and scored the experimental short films that they shot for their program. It was all very much in a demo format - we were provided with a simple synth setup and had to crank it out in a week! It was a very inspiring program.

Alf Clausen | Composer *

Alf Clausen: The Simpsons' Secret Weapon

What would a normal "Simpsons" work schedule be like for you?

quote-leftWhen we're on a week-to-week schedule, what I will normally do is spot an episode on Friday afternoon. The music editor will prepare my timing notes on Saturday and Sunday and then I'll start writing, usually Monday morning if it's a "normal" episode of "30 cues or less." If it's more than that, I'll sometimes start on Sunday to get a jump on things and then I'll put in probably four long days—Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday—of maybe nine in the morning until 11:30 or midnight every day. And then we spot the next week's episode Friday afternoon again and I'll record the cues that I've composed during the past week on Friday night starting at seven. We usually have anywhere from a three to a three-and-a-half hour recording session to do those 30 cues. Every week is different on "The Simpsons" as you know. It really is dependent on whether it's straight underscore type of recording that I have to do or if I have to record vocals—if I have to do orchestral sweeteners of songs that I've written in the past. So, it's never a dull moment.

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Don Davis | Composer *

Don Davis: Revisiting The Matrix

You recently worked on the score to "The Matrix Reloaded", and used similar material from "The Matrix". Tell me a bit about the elements you used to create this score.

Well, the Wachowski Brothers None of us were interested in abandoning what had been established in the first picture; we wanted to expand on it, just like the Wachowskis expanded on their palette. So I was definitely looking to see how I could take those motifs and post-modern concepts and pursue something bigger and more ambitious.

Roddy Bottum | Composer/Musician

Getting to Know Roddy Bottum

Coming from two successful rock groups (Faith No More and Imperial Teen), how did you make the jump into film music?

I grew up in Los Angeles, and was always into film music as a kid. I moved to San Francisco to attend the film program at San Francisco State to learn film production. San Francisco in the 1980s was a thriving art community - so it made sense to work in a lot of different fields - so I joined a band. The band took me on the road - away from the camera, and the area where I could make films. It ended up being a fulltime job for many years. So I just stopped doing film for a long time while I was touring, since Faith No More turned into a round-the-clock, throughout-the-year, fulltime job. Now, after about 15-years, it makes sense. Since I want to stay home and not do as much touring, I can get back into film.

John Barry | Composer

John Barry: The Gstaad Memorandum

Why was this film [Moviola, a documentary on Barry, which was screened moments before] made, and why does it not deal with the diversity and versatility of your music?

There's a very simple answer. This was made by Sony. I'm with Epic Records, and I made an album called Moviola. That album was a compilation of all the romantic themes, or many of the romantic themes, that I've written. And when you listen to an album, I think it's nice to have a transcendent mood rather than a romantic one. So it had a similar tone throughout. It was made by Sony, then it was picked up by Channel 13 in America, and put on a series they had called Great Performances. So that is why it is of this nature. I've also done another album for Sony called Moviola II, which takes care of all the James Bond music, Zulu, all the action films that I've done.

Don Davis | Composer

Don Davis: Jurrasic Park III Interview

The last time we talked was just before "The Matrix" came out - and it turned out to be quite a hit. With the success of "The Matrix", do you think that has impacted your career thus far, two years later?

quote-leftOh yeah! Anything that has impact like that is going to change somebody's perception by others. "The Matrix" was such a surprise hit, but it's still hard to get projects because now I find myself competing with much higher properties. But I don't think I would have been considered for "Jurassic Park III" if I hadn't done "The Matrix".

Justin Caine Burnett | Composer

Justin Caine Burnett: Dungeons and Dragons

Dungeons & Dragons is a very thematic score. Where did you find your inspiration for those varied themes?

quote-leftMy inspiration largely came from the story. There are all these different dynamic characters in the story, each with their own ideas and personalities that provided plenty of musical opportunities. My background includes working with Hans Zimmer, and he's a big thematic person, so I think that rubbed off on me a bit. Also, Courtney Solomon (the director) wanted everyone to have their own theme and musical personality.

Klaus Badelt | Composer

Badelt's Russian Tea Party with Klaus Badelt

For K-19: The Widowmaker, you wrote a very orchestral, traditional score. What was your motivation for doing so?

Well, Harrison Ford as a Russian. That's not very convincing by itself, and so you will need music to help sell it. At the beginning, when I first started working on the movie, it ran about four or five hours long. There was a large introduction to the characters before they launched the boat, with Harrison Ford's character, his wife, his whole history. It was all there. So you had a much bigger emotional buildup for what would eventually happen in the film. And therefore, as a Russian, he was much more believable - at least, compared to what you have now. So the music had an important job at the beginning to make you feel the roots and history of the characters. To tell you where they're from, what they feel, why Captain Vostrikov has issues with his father. Is he really the cold strict military government type? Why is Liam Neeson's character so close to his crew? We just jump right in, so you don't get it. You don't have the 300 years of history and how connected Russian society is to the military, and their special pride, and the feel of it. If you go to Russia, and spend some time there, it's quite different. They're a very proud people......
Pete Anthony | Conductor / Arranger

Pete Anthony - "Keeping Up Tempo"

Let's just start from the beginning: what is your musical background?

I was primarily a composer.  I have a degree in composition from Williams College, and then I went right into the film scoring program at USC.  After that, I studied composition and orchestration privately. I've always played piano - poorly, I might add - and I used to be a fairly good trumpet player for about 14 years, until the end of college.