I come from a family man (3 boys ages 9,7,1). I Enjoy camping and dirt bike riding with my wife and the 2 older ones as well as surfing and most outdoor activities. My work keeps me long hours inside dark rooms so i need the contrast.
I rec’d my master’s degree in compostition from Yale University under Jacob Druckman in 1991 and then moved out to LA to do an internship program at USC under Jerry Goldsmith. I knew little about film music—my main interest was concert music but i learned little by little there could be great innovation within the film music field.
My first project was a tv show called “Land’s End” then i did some tv movies of the week and then in 1996 scored “Scream” for Wes Craven.
What are your sources of inspiration?
I enjoy and take inspiration from all styles of music and sound. Musical integrity is independent of style
Are you inspired by a composer in particular?
I suppose my main influences were Herrmann, Rota and Morricone
Do you consider yourself as being part of a “school” of composition?
No. although i’m not real good with computers and electronics
How would you describe or characterize your own musical style?
I’ll leave that to others. I suppose simply put i like to combine manipulated accoustical sounds with traditional orchestral ones.
How do you choose a project to work on?
If i feel that i could contribute to it.
Did your way of working change along the years or according to each film?
More or less its always been the same, though i have more equipment now and Buck Sanders, who has been working with me since 1997.
Do you have a method of working?
Usually watch the movie and work from the most general ideas about size, color, rhythm to more specific thematic content which i work at away from the picture. Only after i find my direction do i start addressing specific scenes.
What do you feel when you’re composing and what do you like in this process?
Each film is sort of like cracking a puzzle. I like solving the puzzle and discovering the unique emotional, dramatic aspect of the characters and cinematic landscape. After that, much of the individual scene writing is sort of like busy work.
When you're watching a film, do you feel emotions that lead you rather to orchestra or rather to electronics? How do you use either medium?
Well the original scores were orchestral so that’s pretty much what we did. The difficult thing was that due to the very tight schedule they wee editing the picture even after we recorded so much of the music in the first 3 reels is really chopped up and doesn’t sound that fluid.
Live Free or Die Hard
How did you come on Live Free or Die Hard?
I worked with the director Len Wiseman before on Underworld 2.
The three first opus of the Die Hard franchise were scored by Michael Kamen. Did you listen to them before scoring the fourth? Were you inspired by them? Did you happen to meet Michael Kamen?*
Never met him but Len liked the feel of the original scores and asked me to incorporate some of that feel into my score.
May you tell me about your approach for this film?
It’s pretty much an action ride. I used Kamen’s motive for John McClaine.
How much time did you have to compose your score?
We had about 6 weeks once we got a picture we could work to.
What orchestra and what size did you choose? Did you use some electronic sounds in your score or was it all live?
The orchestra was 65 players. We recorded about 120 min of music over 5 days at fox. We had some electronics, but mainly it was orchestral.
To you, what is the most interesting, the most successful or the most complex scene you had to score for this film?
Probably my favorite moment is the scene when McClaine drives his car through an elevator shaft. The music and sound seem to work really well together there.
It's now ten years since you made your first success at Hollywood with Scream. How do you see these ten years of working in the field of cinema?*
I’ve learned a lot about the process, and while quite enjoyable and fulfilling at times the politics and non-musical aspects of the job can become quite tedious and upsetting. It’s difficult to find the balance between putting everything into your work and at the same time not being too precious about it.
You composed several symphonic pieces apart from cinema ("Scenes From Kingdom of the Dinamiten"). Can we hope for a cd recording someday?*
We’ll see. Many of my ideas are non film oriented and I work on little bits from time to time. Perhaps one day I’ll organize them for a cd.
It was announced that you may not do the sequel of Hellboy, The Golden Army, directed by Guillermo Del Toro. Your score for Hellboy is maybe one of your most impressive and accomplished ones. May you confirm, and tell us why? What do you think about that? What was your reaction to this bad news (hoping it will change!)? *
Although I really liked working on Hellboy and like working with Guillermo, I understand directors wanting to take different musical directions for different movies. Yes, I was disappointed. Hopefully it will work out well.
Some composers (Howard Shore, Graeme Revell, Joel Goldsmith, Michael Giacchino, Christopher Lennertz...) seem to be interested in videogame music, which is produced these days with a great amount of money and allows to appeal to big live orchestras and choirs. It also seems to allow more freedom regarding the relation image/music.Have you ever though of working in that field? Why?*
I haven’t been offered any and haven’t really pursued any.
Will there be some references to Michael Kamen's work? (style, themes)?* (*Questions by Milio, Marco’s Fan)
Yes, see above .
Have you finished the score for 3:10 to Yuma?
We’re mixing now.
Are you working on another project? If yes, may you tell me about it?
My next project is “In the Electric Mist” for Bertrand Tavanier. I’m really looking forward to it—takes place in the swamps of Louisiana and has a lot of Cajun influence.
For a new project, if you could choose you a genre, a kind of story and a filmmaker, what would they be?
Well I used to say a western but I’m doing that now.
Among all your scores what are the ones you like the most?
Tough to say. I like different ones for different reasons.
Is there is going to have a Live Free or Die Hard 5?
Thank you for the interest. It’s nice to know there are people who appreciate your work.