Working with Sencit Music

Started a very exciting relationship with the amazing Sencit Music, based in Los Angeles. They've done some amazing work on Inception, Game Of Thrones, Oblivion, Star Trek (the list goes on and on). I've been writing trailer cues for their next album, all recorded by live orchestra.

Lots more great work for these guys in the pipeline too - I think 2014 is going to be very busy and exciting indeed...

LA Trip - 'Film Scoring, Hollywood and Working Remotely'

Last month I attended the annual Billboard Film and TV Music Seminar, a two day event in Hollywood which was made possible with the help of career development funding from the NZFC.

The event itself was fantastic - fascinating discussions with film composers Hans Zimmer, Thomas Newman and Marco Beltrami, and TV guys such as Bear McCreary and Trevor Morris. In attendance were a wide mix of people from composers and songwriters, to music supervisors and publishers. For anyone working in the field of music for picture I couldn't recommend it enough - a thrilling and very informative 2 days, and very beneficial from a networking point of view.

I'd also arranged to spend some time with Dan Licht ('Dexter' composer) who was not only a very amusing chap but very open too - showing me his writing sessions from Dexter and taking me through his working process. While I was with him he landed his next TV show, and I got to be part of the remote 'spotting' session (working out where the music will be, and what it should 'say') for the first episode with the New York based producers - it was a real insight to see how he approached the session, as well as dealing with the unbelievably short deadlines in TV!

I spent Halloween night the most appropriate way I could think of in LA - watching Danny Elfman perform his music from Tim Burton's films with the Hollywood Symphony Orchestra. A week later I had the pleasure of getting very close to the same orchestra when I sat in on the scoring session of the upcoming Muppets sequel with composer Christophe Beck. It was a really moving experience sitting behind the conductor at the Sony Scoring Stage (where 'ET' and 'Schindler's list' amongst many other scores were recorded) and hearing the orchestra sight read the score - such an incredible sound! To top it off I managed to arrange having a look around Hans Zimmer’s Remote Control facility and met with James Newton Howard at his studio - he spoke very fondly indeed of New Zealand having spent a fair amount of time here when he used to tour with bands.

I heard from numerous people that they feel the business as a film composer is changing, and that perhaps the old adage of "you absolutely have to be based in LA" isn't quite as true any more. Obviously nothing can replace meeting people face to face; making those connections and building rapport, but once relationships are built, with high speed internet the world really is a lot smaller now.

I’ve done a lot of remote work myself, both internationally, and within the country; working with a combination of Skype, Dropbox and Google Docs. It’s an amazing time we live in where this whole process can be so efficient. The flipside of this, as mentioned by one of the composers on a panel at Billboard, is that the only reprieve he would get from the long lonely hours in his studio would be when the producers would drop round for a playback session and a chat – and they don’t even do that any more! They just ask for the files to be sent over, whilst he begs for them to come around for a coffee before he loses all social skills.

A final amusing thought from the great Alan Silvestri – the top ten tips he could give for being a successful film composer: number eleven is your ability to compose music.

Put another way, perhaps the key to a sustainable career is making connections, looking after your clients and relationships and, especially in such turbulent times – being able to collaborate and work with those people regardless of where they are based...

With James Newton Howard


'The Light Harvester' - Park Road Post

Just back from spending the better part of a week in Wellington, and 3 days at Peter Jackson's Park Road Post facility working with the team on the final sound mix for 'The Light Harvester'. Great spending some time with director Jason Lei Howden and producer Sarah Howden - actually the first time we'd met as the whole process of scoring was done remotely! A huge honour spending time at Park Road Post too - an incredible facility, and to work with mixer Mike Hedges (double Oscar winner for 'Return Of The King' and 'King Kong') was just fantastic - a real career highlight.

Thorne & Newport - Black Day Baby

Been working again with Andrew Thorne, and the newest release from 'Thorne & Newport' is now alive online! Listen to: 'Black Day Baby'

After playing around with the song a bit, it seemed there was only one way to go for the vocals - we got a session singer from Nashville on the case (A J Engstrom) who delivered a great performance.

Again - the wonders of being able to collaborate remotely!

I Survived A Zombie Holocaust - 5.1 Mix

Had the absolute pleasure of spending 3 days with mix engineer Vedat Kiyici at Envy Studios working alongside director Guy Pigden doing the final surround mix for this feature. So proud of how the whole thing has come together, Envy have done an incredible job on the sound design and hearing the score in surround was one of the most amazing experiences of my career so far. The mix of the score itself by Chris van de Geer came out just as epic as i'd hoped too..... and now we wait for the visual FX to be completed!



'The Replacement Protocol' - Wrapped, and OST Released!

Finished work on this short film directed by Neil Mayo. Such a pleasure finally collaborating with Neil - we've been trying to work together on a project for a long time, and finally got there! A really supportive and enthusiastic director... hopefully the first of many times working together.!

Soundtrack is available for download here:

That's a wrap on Zombies!!

After an incredibly epic journey, fraught with all sorts of terror (and joy) in many ways - today we wrapped scoring feature 'I Survived A Zombie Holocaust'! Final cue was signed off by director Guy Pigden, and to celebrate we topped it off with a big breakfast - as has been our tradition throughout working together on this film.

Score will now be mixed by mighty mixer Chris van de Geer, before our final 5.1 audio dub at Envy Studios in the new year.

Excited for this film to be out there, and to toast wrapping the whole project with the great cast and crew!