Nathan Furst.



 Composer Nathan Furst’s first major film was the 1998 movie A MOMENT OF CONFUSION. He then went on to compose music for other films such as the first BIONICLE trilogy; BIONICLE: MASK OF LIGHT, BIONICLE 2: LEGENDS OF METRU NUI and BIONICLE 3: WEB OF SHADOWS, DUST TO GLORY, and LAKE PLACID 2. Some of the television shows for which he has composed are THE REAL WORLD and MAX STEEL. His most recent score as of 2011 is the 2012 Bandito Brothers film ACT OF VALOR.

John Mansell: Your first movie score I think was, A MOMENT OF CONFUSION (1998). I know you had written music for a reality show before this entitled REAL WORLD, which was in 1992, so how did you become involved with A MOMENT OF CONFUSION?

Nathan Furst: Oh, wow! I haven’t heard of that in a long time. It’s not even a real film. It was a friend from college doing a short student film, I believe. They asked me to write some music for it, so I did. It never came out or anything. I don’t even remember anything about it, not even the music! The Real World was an MTV show that ran for about 10 years. I wrote some music for it briefly in 1997, just out of high school.

John Mansell: ACT OF VALOR is one of your latest scoring assignments; it’s a great score, very powerful and also I felt it fused old style scoring practises with the newer approaches of modern film scoring, both styles worked very well and complimented each other. Was this something that you set out to achieve or was it something that just occurred during the scores development? How much time were you given to write the score, and what size orchestra did you utilize for the assignment?
Nathan Furst: Thank you so much.  While I am fond of the ‘modern sound’ of scores and enthusiastically build upon that sound in my own way, it’s the classic approach that I’m passionate about. I’m pretty obsessed with finding the organic ‘sound’ of 21st century score – at least for myself. I believe blending electronica and orchestra in a way that sounds natural and not ‘shticky’ is a delicate endeavour. Originally, and I mean very very early on, I actually imagined ACT OF VALOR as a very minimalist score. That approach is still a part of the final score, but with a little exploration as footage came in, the directors and I discovered the sound to ACT OF VALOR together. ACT OF VALOR was a very unique situation. I started writing themes before there was even a locked script. Then the film was shot in chunks, around the SEALS deployment schedules. So I would see a sequence or two out of context and that was it. I was on it off and on for about 18 months, and wrote a little over 3 hours of music when all was said and done. There would be 2 month gaps here and there, and then I’d say the last 4 months or so was when the score really came together. I actually moved part of my studio into a room next to the edit bay, so the directors could come in and listen to music anytime. It was actually a fantastic workflow that I very much enjoyed. The music budget required some creative application – remember, this started as a little tiny film! I ended up doing a 40 piece string orchestra date in Prague, which was fantastic. I then did some Brass and shakuhachi recordings here in LA. Everything else, percussion, synths, supporting woodwinds, is all me. I feel that ACT OF VALOR is the closest to date I’ve come to what I believe is my true sound and approach, which of course, like every composer, is a constant evolving journey.

John Mansell: Staying with ACT OF VALOR, as I already said your approach was at times old school as in writing actual themes to accompany the action in some ways similar to what say Jerry Goldsmith would have done. Do you think its important to try and create a central theme so that you can build the remainder of the score around it or upon it?
Nathan Furst: I think it’s paramount. I usually have a main central theme, as well as at least a few sub-themes that are either part of the central theme, or will work in counterpoint with the central theme. In the case of ACT OF VALOR, I have the main theme which is a pretty long melody with a few different sections, which sits on top of my sub theme, which is the four minimalist lamenting chords that are prevalent throughout the score. And then I also have several motifs, some of which are born out of the action cues, and then find themselves re-imagined in the more heartfelt moments. These days 8 people out of 10 wouldn’t catch these nuances, so it pleases me that you noticed! So many scores today have no real grounding root – no themes, motifs – it’s all just an energy level. They often sound like generic library music or something. I find it very disappointing… so many missed opportunities…

John Mansell: How many times do you normally like to look at a project before you start to get any solid ideas about type of music, how much music will be used and where the music will be best placed to serve the movie or TV movie etc?
Nathan Furst: It’s absolutely necessary. When I first join a project, I want to see whatever they can show me. Sometimes it’s a rough edit of the film, sometimes the script, and in the case of BIONICLE – storyboard/concept art. Once I get a look at what the filmmakers are doing, and what they want to say, I usually have good idea right off the bat what I want to do. Of course, as I get into the thick of it, I’ll sometimes make adjustments to my original concept, but I’m usually pretty close.

John Mansell: Orchestration is I suppose an important part of the composing process. Do you like to orchestrate your own music when possible?
Nathan Furst: I feel it’s a very important part of the process. It can be a huge component of the mood your setting, the intention you’re conveying. I always largely orchestrate my material as I write. When I’m writing, I write all the way down the score page – horns, trumpets, bones. 1st Violin part, 2nd Violin, Viola, Celli, Bass all the way down; it’s all there. I also have a fantastic orchestrator who I trust to tell me when I’ve done something….lets call it…lofty. “Too many notes!” ha, ha. Almost anything is possible with the best players, but time becomes a valuable commodity during the producing/recording process. If I’ve written anything that would take more than a few takes for players to nail, we usually make small adjustments.  Knowing that often keeps me from overwriting, too!

John Mansell: What musical education did you receive?
Nathan Furst: Formally? Almost none. I taught myself to play the piano around age 12, specifically with the goal of composing music in mind. Since the age of 8-9 years old, I listened to countless hours of films scores and concert music. I was just drawn to it. I actually remember the moment I first heard Silvestri’s BACK TO THE FUTURE theme when I was 8 years old, and Danny Elfman’s Batman score when I was 10. I attended the LA High School Music of the Arts, which wasn’t what I hoped it would be. I faced the same disappointment in college, so I quickly dropped out and started ghost writing for other composers.

John Mansell
: Was it always your intention to write for film?
Nathan Furst: Pretty much. I flirted briefly with other avenues of the music business, but I’ve always been drawn to the art of scoring film. I would get ‘work copies’ (post production versions without music) of TV shows at the age of 14, and I started just experimenting with my sensibilities.

John Mansell: Within ACT OF VALOR I think I spotted a few Horner-esque moments especially in cue 9 on the CD, the brass in particular. Are you an admirer of Horner’s work and are there any other composers who work in film that you would say have either inspired you or influenced you in the way you approach scoring a film?
Nathan Furst: Holy Cow! FINALLY someone found my Horner Easter egg! Congrats. Sometimes I’ll leave little ‘Easter eggs’ from some of my favourite composers. It’s all my own work, in my own way, but it’ll be a technique or device… something very benign and simple. It entertains me. I believe there are some subtle Silvestri references somewhere in ACT OF VALOR as well…
As I mentioned before, I’m absolutely a product, in part, of my heroes and unwitting mentors – Wagner, Debussey, Tchaikovsky, Holst, Hermann, Mancini, Williams, Goldsmith, Silvestri… it’s a pretty long list!

John Mansell: You worked on MAX STEEL for TV, I think Jim Latham scored a lot of the episodes, how many did you work on?
Nathan Furst: All of them. That show was a collaboration with Jim and I. I had done some work for him before, and he was very, very busy at the time Max Steel came up. He was very kind to bring me on board to help execute Max Steel. I had an absolute blast working on that show, and I learned a lot. I consider myself fortunate for that experience.

John Mansell: When working on a television series the deadlines are obviously a lot tighter and you have to deliver music a lot faster than when you are working on a motion picture. Do you ever recycle or re-use cues from one episode in another and how many episodes do you score at a time?
Nathan Furst: Well, on a single show, it’s usually one episode at a time, but the episode cycle can be very fast. Sometimes only a few days from the time you first see the episode to the time it’s on the mix stage. It absolutely makes sense to recycle the conceptual material. It not only makes sense for time, but it’s also artistically appropriate. It’s very important that a series have a ‘sound’ to it. If every cue from every episode is re-inventing the wheel, the show isn’t likely to have a nice, uniform continuity…especially on those timelines.
Sometimes the TV-movies are even crazier. My record was a 90 minute movie, with 80 minutes of music started and delivered in 6 days. That was a full week.

John Mansell: You have worked on a number of TV movies and also motion pictures and a handful of documentaries; apart from budget is there a great deal of differences between the three types of film when it comes to scoring them?
Nathan Furst: Honestly, not really. The budget is the only difference. The writing process, for me, is basically the same. The difference is that on the tight budget (on time as well as money) the writing process is pretty much the only process. It’s very common for there not to be a formal recording session or final mix. What you write/sketch in the studio is what gets delivered. The larger budget stuff is much easier to execute.

John Mansell: How do you arrive at your musical solutions; by this I mean how do you bring your musical ideas to fruition, via piano, or straight to paper?
Nathan Furst: Paper? What’s paper? (Kidding… sort of) I prefer to sit at the piano… it’s a very natural and organic experience. I really don’t like coming up with ideas in the studio. I’ll usually chicken-scratch a quick idea on paper, or sometimes even just the memo recording app on the iPhone, and then take that into the studio to orchestrate and produce.
When I’m fortunate enough to get on a film very early on, sometimes before they even start shooting, I’ll spend WEEKS getting the themes and arching ideas just right on the piano. So sometimes, by the time I’ve gotten around to turning the studio on, I’ve already been working on interconnecting themes equivalent of a modern opera for the better part of a month on the piano.

John Mansell: When working on any project do you have a set way in which you carry out your work, or does this vary from project to project. Do you like to tackle larger cues first or maybe concentrate on smaller cues and stabs etc. at first?
Nathan Furst: It changes slightly from project to project, but I generally like to score very important scenes first; scenes that sometimes define the entire movie. It helps me micro focus my pacing, approach, etc. I can then go through to other cues and start properly gauging my arching development that gets me to that important, defining moment. Of course, this is assuming that I would get the entire film at once, which is sometimes not the case.

John Mansell: What would you say is the purpose of music in film?
Nathan Furst: Well it depends greatly on the film! But generally, I feel film music is best when it creates an additional complex facet that is not entirely on the screen on it’s own to help tell the story and/or reveal our character. What’s so amazing about film music, and music in general, is that it’s so powerful at conveying emotion… sometimes emotions so complex that they can’t be easily defined or articulated. You’d be surprised how many different pieces of music you can put up against the same scene, and it all works! But the scene will play differently and say something differently with each piece of music. That’s why is so important to truly KNOW what it is you are trying to say, and to have conviction between yourself and the filmmakers in what you’re trying to say… what kind of movie you want to make. One of the potential downsides to film is that you can’t easily get inside the characters head the way you do in a book. In a book, the characters inner most thoughts and feelings are often laid out right in front of you. I like to think one of the things score can do is help bring some of that into the experience.

John Mansell: Do you come from a family that has a background of music?
Nathan Furst: Not at all, actually. I pretty much come from a family of actors. Not sure what happened there?

John Mansell: Do you ever buy soundtrack discs by other composers?
Nathan Furst: Not as much these days, but absolutely. I love score soundtracks, especially when they’re good. If it’s one of my ‘heroes’, chances are I’ll buy the soundtrack.

John Mansell: When a CD is being planned of one of your scores, do you become involved as in the selection of cues etc and the sequencing of the CD?
Nathan Furst: Very much so. My OCD wouldn’t allow otherwise. I even listen to the entire selection, and will occasionally edit out moments that don’t quite make sense as an isolated listening experience, but served a purpose in the film… such as holding chord that holds too long…a random sting or something… that kind of thing. The CD mix is usually a different mix than what we did for the film, and I also insist on being in the mastering studio. It’s such a delicate balance between getting that large and loud modern sound, but without crunching the life out of it. I didn’t used to go to those sessions, but I learned very quickly that I really need to be there.

John Mansell: How early do you like to become involved on a scoring assignment; maybe at the script stage or do you prefer the movie to be in its rough cut state before you come onboard?
Nathan Furst: It’s all over the place on a project by project basis. I prefer to get involved as early as possible. It’s very important that the music feel like it truly belongs to that film. Not just themes or stuff like that, but the very soul of score – each note is truly married to the frame it hits. I’m usually most satisfied with the end result when I’ve gotten involved in film while it’s still in the script stage.

John Mansell: You worked on the first three of the BIONICLE films. How did you become involved with this trilogy and why did you not score the fourth film in the series as your music for the first three was well thought of?
Nathan Furst: I happened to know someone who knew the producer who was actively looking for a composer. I submitted some of my music, in addition to original theme concept sketch (which ended up being one of the main themes). That’s pretty much it. I loved working on those films. For me, it’s some of the best work I’ve ever done. After the original trilogy, an entirely different production team was hired to create the 4th film. I think not seeking me out is probably because they were anxious to make their own mark, so to speak. So, the very fact that I scored the original trilogy omitted my consideration. Someone sent me a couple scenes from that score, and I was flattered to find that my BIONICLE score was obviously the inspiration! Best compliment a composer could have.

John Mansell: What are you working on at the moment?
Nathan Furst: I have a few things going on, but nothing I’m allowed to speak of at the moment. These days, production companies are very nervous, and it’s becoming more and more common to sign NDA agreements the second you come onboard. So I can’t talk about them until they’re already done. But it’s all very exciting stuff that I can’t wait to talk about!

John Mansell: Thank you so much for your time best wishes.
Nathan Furst: Thank you so much, John. It’s a pleasure.

I gratefully acknowledge the generous help from Beth at cinemamedia in making this interview possible.

Nora Orlandi.

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John Mansell: Where and when were you born?
Nora Orlandi: I was born in Voghera (Lombardia), Italy on the 28th of June 1933.

John Mansell: What musical education do you have?
Nora Orlandi: I studied at the academy of music in Voghera (Conservatorio).

John Mansell: Did you come from a musical family background?
Nora Orlandi: My mother, Fanny Miriam Campos, was a great lyric singer. My father and my brother were merely passionate for music, while my sister is a singer too. She worked with me as soloist and vocalist in both my two groups: the 2+2 and the 4+4. As for my present family, my husband is my most precious collaborator: he helps me in everything… last September we celebrated 55 years of marriage! I have 2 sons and at least 5 nephews, aged from 7 up to 22.

John Mansell: You began primarily as a singer in a group with Alessandroni. When did you decide to form your own singing group?
Nora Orlandi: To tell the truth the group was mine… and I gave to Alessandroni the possibility to join! He was one of my first vocalists. Subsequently I had the pleasure to work with Massimo Cini, one of my vocalists for 30 years, and also there is Enzo Gioieni, who I have worked and performed with since almost the start of my career.
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John Mansell: You have worked with many composers on film scores, who would you say was the most enjoyable to work with?
Nora Orlandi: Every composer or performer I have worked with I have enjoyed collaborating with, my collaborations have always been undertaken with enthusiasm and positivity, independently from the composer or the film. Passion is something you have inside and I merely offered it to everyone that called me to work.

John Mansell: What was your first film score, and how did you progress from a performer to a composer?
Nora Orlandi: In 1953–54, at the age of 20, I composed my first film score: “Non Vogliamo Morire”. I really don’t remember the day I became a singer professionally: it is too far away!

John Mansell: Do you conduct all of your own music, or do you sometimes have a conductor?
Nora Orlandi: No, on the contrary: my scores have always been directed by someone else more famous than me… for example Paolo Ormi and Robbie Poitevin. Besides I was busy with many other projects, and did not have enough time available to conduct my own music.
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John Mansell: Do you think enough of your music from film has been released onto LP or CD?
Nora Orlandi: I have never paid much attention to that matter. Soundtracks are only the 30% of my work, the rest was compounded by various performances, TV and radio-phonic shows, advertising spots… Moreover I took part in about 15 San Remo music Festivals.

John Mansell: How do you work out your musical ideas, do you utilise a piano or do you work with a synthesiser?
Nora Orlandi: I utilise neither a piano nor a synthesiser. I compose without any instrument and only at the end I check what I wrote (generally with a piano): only Mozart could write without checking!

John Mansell: How many times do you normally watch a movie before you start to get any fixed ideas about where the music will be placed and what style of music you will employ?
Nora Orlandi: Most of the times you must ask expressly to watch the film. Often it is sufficient to watch some parts of it, only one time, to understand the more suitable musical style. The music must be a “sound photography”, parallel to the images; it depends really on each individual project.

John Mansell: How long did you normally get to work on a film score; maybe you could use THE SWEET BODY OF DEBORAH as an example?


Nora Orlandi: It depends from the kind of the job… I don’t exactly remember how much time I got to work on a singular film score. Perhaps it is too difficult to quantify it because I could not devote so much time to a sole work. As I have already said, soundtracks are not my priority, even though they are a way of artistic expression that I have a particular passion for myself.


John Mansell: Do you prefer to work on a particular type or genre of movie, or are you happy working on all types of subject matter?
Nora Orlandi: I am happy working on any type of film, because it is always a very interesting artistic experience. As spectator I love very much thrillers… but unfortunately I haven’t had the opportunity to do many of these.

John Mansell: Have you ever had a score rejected, or have had to do a rush job on a film after another score had been discarded?
Nora Orlandi: Thankfully, this has never happened, I am very fortunate.

John Mansell: What do you think of the film music of today?
Nora Orlandi: In my opinion the film music of today is generally good… however, if it is music from yesterday or of today it is always film music: a “light” entertainment! This kind of music isn’t a committed artwork, but a “light” artwork with a specific beauty.

Orlandi at 80.
Orlandi at 80.

John Mansell: Would you say that you were influenced by any composers in particular, classical or film music composers?
Nora Orlandi: No, not really. For me to write music that is influenced by another composer would be very much like plagiarism, of course it is possible for this to be done unconsciously…

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John Mansell: When a soundtrack recording is released on record or compact disc do you have any input into what music will go onto that release?
Nora Orlandi: When one of my soundtracks is released on record or CD, certainly I am very glad, but I’m not interested to intervene in the track’s selection. Once I finished my work of music composition I spend my time with other projects. I’m very busy!

John Mansell: Do you orchestrate all of your scores yourself?
Nora Orlandi: No, I don’t. It depends by the situation, the needs… and, most of all, by the time I can spend in it, so sometimes I work on them myself other times not.

John Mansell: Are you working on anything at the moment?
Nora Orlandi: Personally I’m busying myself with some very interesting teaching projects… But I always take into consideration what people offer to me.

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Many thanks to Nora Orlandi. Also many thanks to Valentina of the press office at BEAT, and Daniele De Gemini, who’s help with this project has been invaluable.

Vincent Gillioz.


John Mansell: You were born in Geneva Switzerland; did you come from a family that was musical?

Vincent Gillioz: No one is playing any instruments in my family, but my father has a very similar profession, he is a creative. He is in the advertisement business, he conceptualizes, draws, paints, designs, structures an ad, a campaign, a product, or a poster following the directions/intent of the client and within a certain budget.  And he also has to think about what will be the effect on the audience – all that is very similar to what film composers do. All those professions based on the appreciation are very similar in the way we all think it out; they are all about “composing”, in other words, making decisions on how/what/where/when to place an element with another to communicate an idea.

John Mansell: Did you know right from the start of your interest in music that you would write for film?
Vincent Gillioz: No. It is when I was studying the guitar at Berlkee College of Music in Boston that I discovered that my interest was not so much in performing, but in writing music, so I did a dual major in performance and film scoring. Film scoring because I love movies and because I’ve always been amazed by the atmosphere that the music was bringing you in when you are seating in a theater and watching a movie, it’s absorbing.

John Mansell: Over the past few years you have been very busy indeed. I think I am right when I say you have worked on over 30 projects; that is certainly a big workload. How do you maintain a schedule such as this. You must be very organised and disciplined?
Vincent Gillioz: Yes, it can be very draining to compose constantly for deadlines. In order to reach them, it is crucial to be well organized. With times I’ve got accustomed to it, and manage much better the pressure, and the way to get the “creativity” flowing.

John Mansell: You were given guidance by Christopher Young, what was he like to work with?
Vincent Gillioz: I met Chris a few months after I arrived in LA, at the Society of Composers and Lyricists Christmas Dinner where I volunteered. I went to Chris and just wanted to thank him for the great music he has been giving us for so many years. I know all his scores and the most obscure ones too.  And he was amazing; he asked if I had his phone number and said that we should get together. Woooow, I didn’t expect anything like that. Then, he listened to my demo CD and told me I should go to the Sundance Composers Lab, I was the only one he recommended this year, so I was very touched and honored. Since then he has always been inquiring how I was doing, and if he could anything to help me. Once he lent me his studio to record. Chris Young is very supportive of aspiring composers, he is a magnanimous person, he started the ‘The Tilden House Residency’. The Tilden House Residency is a unique residency program offering low cost housing in Los Angeles, California in order to help aspiring film composers and musicians establish themselves in Hollywood.


John Mansell: What made you decide to re-locate to the United States?
Vincent Gillioz: Many different reasons convinced me to move to the US. First and foremost as a Swiss citizen, there is no way I could make a living as a film composer in Switzerland; the market is too small for us to have an industry. Then, I studied in Boston; I discovered the USA and loved the mentality here, very optimistic and making things happen rather than talking. Also, regarding film music, there is no better place to be than Los Angeles. The multitude and variety of projects being made is amazing. It is so exciting also to meet all those talented and motivated filmmakers who have the same focus that you have. Out of the pollution, Los Angeles is a great city to live in, the art, the food, the beach, the mountain, the desert, the music, the architecture, the opera house the weather, the symphony orchestra, the museums, etc. The quality of the resources is amazing.

John Mansell: How do recording facilities differ in the States and Switzerland?
Vincent Gillioz: The experience is key. Here in the US they are so used to record film music, it’s a daily job, in Switzerland it’s an event.

John Mansell: How many times do you like to see a project before you commence the actual scoring process?
Vincent Gillioz: That’s a great question. I tried different ways, I tried to see a project so many times that you know it by heart, and then started to score it. The problem to me is that you lose perspective on it, you start to miss the emotional shape of the movie, because you know what is going to happen next, you don’t react anymore as intensely as you should. So I prefer to watch it as little as I can before I start scoring it. But it is very important for me to know where I want to go and how is shaped the whole movie, so that I know how I will structure the music on the overall. Like a story, the music needs to go somewhere. I don’t like to read script though. If I read the script, I become the director, and it is useless and misleading. Also, the way a movie is edited, photographed, the way a story is told, acted, directed will influence my writing, all those things are not found in a script.

John Mansell: What film music composers would you say have influenced you in the way you score films etc?
Vincent Gillioz: I love so many film composers. To me John Williams is the master of all; whatever he does fits the movie and at the same time is inventive, original and great to listen to. He is the ultimate embodiment of a film composer’s goal. I love all the following composers because they have their own voice: Elliot Goldenthal, Marco Beltrami, Christopher Young, John Corigliano, Howard Shore, Thomas Newman, Bronislau Kaper, Jerry Goldsmith, Ennio Morricone, Sergei Prokofiev, Danny Elfman, James Horner, Bernard Herrmann, Alan Silvestri, Asche and Spencer, Philip Glass, Tomandandy, Toru Takemitsu… What influences me a lot is why, when and how the music is used. Sometimes, the music in itself might not be “interesting” or might not stand a listening by itself, but works perfectly for the movie. Also, the way some directors uses music in a very original way is just amazing, among others, I can think of Stanley Kubrick, Paul Thomas Anderson, Jean-Luc Godard, Wong Kar Waï…

John Mansell: What musical education did you receive?

Vincent Gillioz: I started to play the guitar with a private instructor; I was playing in a metal band at the time. My first academic studies were at Berklee College of Music in Boston, where I did a dual major in Performance and Film Scoring. Then I went to Conservatory of Music of Geneva in Switzerland to study classical orchestration and composition.

John Mansell: You started out playing guitar in a heavy metal band, when did you decide to switch to being a composer?
Vincent Gillioz: I went to Berklee in Boston to study the guitar. When I played in bands, we always composed the music that we played. It’s only when I was studying and practicing so much that I became aware that what I liked was not how well I could play, but which note to put one after the other, which instrument will play it, how, what and when, in other words, composing. I have always loved the atmosphere that the music creates when I was sitting in a theater, and I always had a very strong love for movies. To write music for movies, you need to understand movies very well, it is first about the movie, not about the music.

John Mansell: Most of your scores that are released on CD are on your own label Spheris Records – are these promos only?
Vincent Gillioz: Those are commercial releases that are available for sale on the usual soundtrack stores like Screen Archives Entertainment, and Intrada in the USA, Au Paradoxe Perdu, Chris Soundtrack Corner and Rosebud Cinema Shop in Europe, and Ark Soundtrack Square in Japan. The scores are also available in MP3 format on CD Baby, iTunes, Rhapsody, Napster, and many other online stores.

John Mansell: What would you identify as being the purpose of music in film?
Vincent Gillioz: That is the first question that I ask the filmmaker at the beginning of each project. He or she will be the one determining the role of the music in the movie. Music can be used in so many different ways. When filmmakers are not aware of all the different kind of use of music in movies, I explain it to them, so that they become aware of the powerful support that it can provide to the storytelling. To experience a complete list of the different uses of music in a movie, I would recommend watching Jean-Luc Godard’s PIERROT LE FOU; you’ll find also the craziest use of music one can ever imagine.

John Mansell: Have you ever declined to work on any project, and was there any particular reason for this?
Vincent Gillioz: I don’t decline to work on a project unless I cannot make it fit my schedule. I have become addicted to being constantly working and I developed the phobia of having no project to score after I finish one.

John Mansell: Edward Shearmur and George S Clinton are another two well known composers that you have worked with; in what capacity did you have contact with them?
Vincent Gillioz: I met them, Mark Isham, Rolfe Kent and Thomas Newman at the 2002 Sundance Composers Lab. They were visiting us, we had group discussions and one on one visits with them.  It was very nice and laid-back.

John Mansell: Do you value the use of a temp track on a project you have been asked to score, does a temp track give you a better idea of what the filmmaker requires for his movie, or does it get in the way of your creative flow?
Vincent Gillioz: Just this morning the director of my next movie, Verso (dir. Xaver Ruiz), asked me how I felt about receiving the movie with a temp track, because they are editing the movie with a temp track to help. I said that it doesn’t bother me.  It would bother me only if I am asked to copy the temp track; it is something nobody would like to have to do. The temp track helps me understand the filmmaker better than words would. So I watch the movie once with the temp track, then discuss with the director what he or she wants the music to do in the movie, what he or she likes about the temp, if it is a certain instrument, atmosphere, structure, etc. Then, I start scoring and never listen to the temp track again, I completely forget about it.

John Mansell: What is the largest orchestra that you have utilised on a score for film?
Vincent Gillioz: It was a 60 piece orchestra on QUELQUES JOURS AVANT LA NUIT if I remember well.


John Mansell: Do you conduct all of the music you compose for film, or do you at times have a conductor?

Vincent Gillioz: I prefer having a conductor, because I have only one brain cell, so I would not be able to listen to the whole or sometimes a specific instrument, think about what should be changed for a better result, take notes, and conduct at the same time.

John Mansell: Do you think that orchestration is an important part of the composing process?
Vincent Gillioz: Speaking about the real job of an orchestrator, that is to decide which instrument will play the lines, and not the Hollywood orchestrating job that is a copyist job. Personally I cannot conceive composing without knowing which instrument is playing the line that I am creating. It doesn’t make any sense, you don’t write the same if it is a flute, where you can hold a note or a piano, where the note disappear once hit. The timbre, the technique, the spectrum of the instrument will determine the line you are creating; this is nonsense to me to compose without knowing which instrument is playing.  And I am much too egocentered to let someone else take a decision on my music.

John Mansell: Your score for THE IRISH VAMPIRE GOES WEST(aka AN IRISH VAMPIRE IN HOLLYWOOD0 has just been issued onto CD, again on your own label. Do you select all the music that goes onto the finished CD, and how long does it take you from start to finish to produce a soundtrack CD?


Vincent Gillioz: I decide of everything regarding the production of my CD, the tracks, the order, the titles, etc. But I let the design of my covers to my great and talented friend of mine, Luis M Roja from Argentina, check out his website for other covers of his Since I am doing everything else myself, it takes me much too long to do it, because I am also pressing the CD’s one by one myself, I cut the covers for each CD, and I’ve bought a laminator to laminate each CD, I take care of the packaging and shipping too.  Each CD has my “sweat” on it.

John Mansell: Away from film music, what are your musical influences?
Vincent Gillioz: I love classical music, mostly 20th (21st) century music, the Russian composers, Stravinsky, Prokofiev, Mussorgsky, Schostakovitch, I also love Ligeti, Corigliano, Bartok, Penderecki, Murail, Hosokawa, Takemitsu… I don’t follow so much the newest stuff in other styles, so I am stuck with my classics, like early Metallica, Paco de Lucia, John Coltrane, U2, early Megadeth, The Police, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Slayer, Miles Davis, Bill Frisell, Charlie Haden, Shakti, early Iron Maiden, Egberto Gismonti…

John Mansell: You have also written for the concert hall. What were these compositions, and did you conduct any of them in concert at all?
Vincent Gillioz: I’ve never conducted the concert hall compositions, I wish I had actually. The concert hall music is a whole different beast. I like to do it, because I can use a different “language”. Also the music and the instrumentation can be much more daring, because there is no one who has to green light the piece, and who could be afraid that it might be too out of the ordinary and take the whole attention. Those pieces also allow me to know the limits of the instruments because I can push the envelope and develop without any restrictions.


John Mansell: Out of all the projects that you have worked on, do you have a particular favourite?
Vincent Gillioz: I will dodge that question. They are all my babies, so I have to like them evenly.  Seriously, they all have a particular history, representing a specific moment in my evolution as a writer. When I hear them, they bring me back to the moment when I was writing them. They are my Proust’s Madeleines.

John Mansell: When writing music for a project do you work out your musical ideas with piano, or do you utilise a computer or synth etc?
Vincent Gillioz: I mostly use the sound that I am writing for, because it influences the creation. Mostly I imagine the lines first in my head, and then use the keyboard to give life to it. But sometimes I put a piano sound and fool around with it. If the music gets very complicated, I need to write it down, to see everything that is happening at once. It is also very nice to full around with the computer to experiment, for example to apply a different instrument than thought at first to a line, say you wrote a line for a horn, and then you give it to a marimba, or you can mess up with the tempo, keys, applying effects to the line etc.

John Mansell: You scored the thriller LAST BREATH which I enjoyed very much, how long did you have to work n the picture and how many players did you use for the soundtrack?


Vincent Gillioz:  Thanks John for  your comments on Last Breath, it is very kind of you. I had maybe 2 months to score Last Breath. There was actually no orchestra recorded, but only a few live players, all thVe woodwinds, a violin and a cello.

John Mansell: As a collector of soundtracks now for shall we say a long time, I for one am concerned that the theme or the main title is being faded out, and some composers are making more frequent use of the droning sound or noise on a score, which I think is just filling space, what is your opinion of this practise and do you think its just a trend or something more permanent?



Vincent Gillioz: .It seems that drones/textures are getting more present, and that counterpoint is disappearing at the same time. The music language gets poorer, as a result there is less and less ambiguity in the emotions conveyed. However the variety of sounds/colour is richer than ever. It is due to the technological development, we can sculpt new sound very easily. This technological development is leading to a democratisation of the profession. Today it is possible to produce a score for pretty cheap, and without needing as much music knowledge as it used to be necessary. Libraries of ready made loops allow to make up for this lack. I believe it is a paradigm that must be happening in many professions. Also the fact that selling music doesn’t pay much anymore because of the low streaming rate, more and more musicians turn to film music to make a living.

John Mansell:Whats next for you?

Vincent Gillioz: I’ve just finished scoring a trailer and I am scoring a logo for a distribution company, then I will be preparing for an orchestral recording of music that I arranged/orchestrated for a composer.



Robert Gulya.

Robert Gulya Hungarian composer Robert Gulya studied at the Franz Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest, the University of Music and Performing Arts, Vienna and attended a film scoring advanced program at the University of California, Los Angeles. He wrote several works for the Austrian guitarist Johanna Beisteiner, such as a Concert for guitar and orchestra, which was performed with the Budapest Symphony Orchestra. Robert Gulya is now dividing his time between London and Budapest. His most recent film credits include: the exciting adventure film IN THE NAME OF SHERLOCK HOLMES; the chilling Lionsgate horror GINGERCLOWN 3D and Jo Kastner’s adaptation of TOM SAWYER & HUCKLEBERRY FINN.
John Mansell: You were born in Hungary and your father was a jazz pianist. Was music always something that you wanted to be involved in?
Robert Gulya: Yes since when I was 12. That was a turning point in my life. I decided to be a composer. First I was shy sharing my music with my teachers. As a pianist I used to play more and more difficult pieces and I remember I wanted to come out with my own composition which was even more complicated to play than Franz Liszt’s piano etudes. I managed to do it! Even if that piece wasn’t as good I would share with you now…

John Mansell: What is your earliest memory of any kind of music?
Robert Gulya: Apart from children songs I would say Chopin’s piano pieces. I always loved his sensibility even in my childhood.

John Mansell: You studied piano and also composition in Vienna and then you attended USC where you were taught by a number of well know composers of film music. Who were these and what studies did you undertake with them?
Robert Gulya: I graduated in Budapest first, then went to Vienna. I got the Fulbright scholarship, which realized my dream: I could become a film composer. In USC Film Scoring Program I had the opportunity to see how Chris Young wrote his film scores how he prepared them for a recording session, I was able to conduct a 90 piece symphonic orchestra and other ensembles on the Paramount Scoring Stage (and they played my piece), I had the honour to hear David Raksin’s narratives how he’d worked with Charlie Chaplin in the past, to see how folks mixed music in Skywalker Ranch but the most important I learnt how I could count on your friends when I was under pressure and needed some help.

John Mansell: Your score for IN THE NAME OF SHERLOCK HOLMES has been released by Howlin’ Wolf records in the United States. What input did you have in the release? By this I mean did you sequence the tracks and select which music was going to be used in the release?
Robert Gulya: Yes. Originally there were more cues in the film but sometimes some of them might not be on a CD release. They are OK in context with the film but as a separate piece of music they do not have enough strength. I thought the more powerful cues could fill up the CD.

John Mansell: In the notes you explain that the score is made from samples, so a live orchestra is not utilized at all in the recording. Did you approach the project in this way because of the budget?
Robert Gulya: I have to say yes, however I always indoctrinate producers that if they pay for live orchestra they hire 70 artists while if they hire me only that is 1 artist. With this score the producers and director did the maximum as far as financing the best score. We didn’t have the budget to pay 4-5 sessions with the full orchestra, even if the requirement was an adventure type of score from the director’s side. I decided to use only those elements from the orchestra which sound good as samples and came out with some strange and unusual (sampler) instruments, which made the score unique and give it that organic feeling.

John Mansell: I understand that you had nearly two months to prepare and record the score for IN THE NAME OF SHERLOCK HOLMES, which is quite a long time in the film business. How long do you normally have to create your scores for a production?
Robert Gulya: Hmm… Writing 70 minutes of music, record and mix your self: do you think it’s a plenty of time? (Unfortunately or fortunately?) I’m not a music industrial machine. Besides I didn’t have 2-3 assistants while I was composing, or 5 people orchestrating and 10 people helping me with music editing, etc…) I can work really hard but my partners (including directors and producers) are mainly thinking I am a human being and beyond this point they do understand the tiny little trick: a little more time and a little less stress could give you a much better result…

John Mansell: The violin solos are wonderful; these are the work of Gergely Kuklis. When you were writing the music did you have this particular soloist in mind to perform on the soundtrack?
Robert Gulya: Gergely is a friend of mine. But I actually offered this job to another friend of mine first, (who could probably play it equally good as Gergely did) just because he is also a friend but he was listed previously in my book because of his name starts with a “J” and not “K”. But it seems it was Gergely’s destiny to play the theme. He made a wonderful job and I’m so happy he made it.

John Mansell: You became involved on IN THE NAME OF SHERLOCK HOLMES because you had scored the directors first movie ILLUSIONS but how did he initially hear about you and your music?
Robert Gulya: He was not satisfied with his previous composer in ILLUSIONS. The scriptwriter suggested him to call me…

John Mansell: What composers would you say have had an influence upon the way you write for the cinema?
Robert Gulya: If you ask me about my favourite composers then I would say John Williams, Alan Silvestri, Harry Gregson-Williams. Influence is more difficult because in many cases directors ask for specific music. I’m talking about temp tracks.

John Mansell: Some of your music is included in the soundtracks for OUTLANDER and also VAMPIRES SUCK. Were these compositions written specifically for the movies or were they pieces of music that you had composed previously and the producers utilized them in the films?
Robert Gulya: I worked as music recording director in these projects.

John Mansell: How does working in Hungary differ from working in other countries. Are the facilities as good or better?
Robert Gulya: I actually don’t feel any differences. The film crews are same all over the World (if they are professionals.) I also record film music with the Budapest Symphony and mix them in the Hungarian National Radio and I have to say they make a great job. Even Hollywood or Abbey Road would be proud of the productions they do.

John Mansell: I understand that you are currently working on two movies, GINGER CLOWN 3D which stars Tim Curry and also TOM SAWYER AND HUCKLEBERRY FINN. Do you think that your music from these productions will be issued onto CD – and when will the movies be released ?
Robert Gulya: Hopefully yes. My manager, Greg Hubai is in charge of negotiating and it seems there will be some new releases. We just have to find the best time to come out with the CDs suited for the film releases.

John Mansell: What do you think is the purpose of music in film?
Robert Gulya: I think there is a strong collaboration between the footage and the music. The same strength as between the dragon and his rider from Eragon if you know what I mean… The purpose is to enhance, substitute and supplement the emotional content of the film you want to share with the audience.

John Mansell: Your first movie score was TRUCE which was released in 2005. How did you become involved on this project and what instrumentation or size of orchestra did you use for the project?
Robert Gulya: I’d worked with Dennis Trombly (producer) before I scored TRUCE. He recommended me to Matt Marconi, the director. I used a standard orchestra, classical and electric guitars.

John Mansell: Do you think that it is possible for a good score to save or help a film if it is not so good?
Robert Gulya: If the film is not so good then maybe. But if the film is bad there is no chance…

John Mansell: How do you get your musical ideas from your head and turn them into music and musical sounds. Do you use keyboard or a more hi tech fashion or maybe at times you use manuscript paper and pencil ?
Robert Gulya: I use everything. I feel I am lucky because I am a classical trained composer so I can imagine the sound of a full orchestra while I can do sophisticated computer simulations. I use piano to come out with themes and use computer to finish them and prepare them.

John Mansell: When you are asked to score a movie how many times do you like to see that movie before getting any fixed ideas about where music should be placed? What style of music should be employed etc? I know with IN THE NAME OF SHERLOCK HOLMES you started writing a main theme before you saw any footage and were inspired by the script. Does this happen on many occasions?
Robert Gulya: I watch 2-3 times before I start working on the score but I am convinced that first time viewing is the most important for me: It gives me the determinative approach and this is something that can be hardly changed even by directors. If my approach is different from the director’s approach we have to find a mutual approach.

John Mansell: You had a temp track on IN THE NAME OF SHERLOCK HOLMES. Do you find temp tracks to be helpful or maybe sometimes a little distracting?
Robert Gulya: Both. It helps me to understand what people (without having music background) want to get. However these tracks could be dangerous when people such as directors or producers fall in love with them and can’t accept any changes…

John Mansell: Do you or have you performed on any of your film scores and do you conduct at all?
Robert Gulya: I conducted TRUCE and THE BOY WHO CRIED BITCH. But I think it is better to stay on the other side and hear what the conductor makes with my piece.

Zaalen Tallis.

Composer, musician Zaalen Tallis, was born in Perth, Western Australia. Amongst other things Zaalen is a composer of film music and has worked on numerous shorts and features. He writes scripts, takes an active role in making movies and also plays in bands; he is an individual who lives for the world of creativity. He became involved in the world of music at a very early age and his career led him into the film music composition arena where he remains very busy and productive. Over the past four years Zaalen has been nominated for ‘Best Original Music’ at the West Australian Screen Awards and has also written music for projects from China and the United States. In 2004 he received the ‘Western Australian Swan District Education Award’ for ‘Excellence In Music’. He is also the co-company director of Symphonic Pictures, a creative production company that he co-founded in 2008.
John Mansell: You are very much into everything to do with film. You have written scripts and provided numerous projects with musical scores. When did you decide to write music for film?
Zaalen Tallis: I was around the age of 12 when I knew that I wanted to compose music for films, however I always had a passion for film scores before then and I always had melodies going on my head from since I can remember.
John Mansell: One of your latest projects is PANTHEON. This is an epic sounding score. It, for me, is very much like the scores that were written during the 1970s and 1980s. It’s rich and luxurious with sweeping strings and kind of proud sounding brass. Was this something you set out to do right from the start on this project? I think what I am saying it’s a soundtrack that’s got actual themes, its hard hitting in a very similar way to what Goldsmith or Bernstein or even Poledouris would have done?
Zaalen Tallis: PANTHEON is a science fiction adventure with an epic, mature story and I felt it deserved strong themes accompanied by a large sound with lots of gusto and right from the start I set out to create that. I didn’t want any cheesiness in the score. I wanted to provide an adrenalin packed score that packs a punch, but is thematic as much as possible. 
John Mansell: What musical education did you receive?
Zaalen Tallis: I only studied music in a formal way from the age of 10 until about the age of 14. I also did some sound engineering in my early 20s but that’s about it. I’m a hand’s on kind of guy. I want to get in there and play around with my equipment, notes, sounds and instruments and figure out for myself what methods work best for me and my ideas.
The best education in music I have ever had though is from my Dad who brought me up on listening and respecting all genres of music from all kinds of cultural backgrounds.
John Mansell: You played in bands. What sort of music did you play?
Zaalen Tallis: Well a good mix of music. Classical and jazz bands in high school school, a cover band that played funk, pop, rock, rnb and most enjoyably, jam sessions with my family. I’m definitely not the most talented player in the world that’s for sure but I love making a bit of noise. 
John Mansell: Do you come from a family background that is musical?
Zaalen Tallis: Yes I do. My Dad’s a drummer, my oldest brother is a drummer and drum teacher and my other brother plays guitar and sings. I’m lucky enough to have a family that is extremely creative, not just in music but with anything that involves using your imagination and building ideas. It’s a part of the Z Clan DNA I think.
John Mansell: What composers or artists would you say have either inspired you or maybe influenced you in the way you write for film?
Zaalen Tallis: Hans Zimmer, John Williams, Jerry Goldsmith, Miklos Rozsa, James Newton Howard, John Powell, Basil Poledouris, Joe Hisaishi… All these amazing composers, and there are so many I haven’t listed, have all played a role in inspiring and influencing me. There are also heaps of bands and artists that have inspired ideas for my music.
John Mansell: What size orchestra did you use for PANTHEON. It sounds pretty large but I know that sometimes with modern tech. etc this is not always the case, so was it fully or partly orchestral?
Zaalen Tallis: Oh how I wish I had a real orchestra to record with. Pantheon was done from my little music room with software plug-ins. A lot of hours go into tweaking the plug-ins so I can get the instruments sounding as realistic as they can and also the way I want them to. If I were able to record it with an orchestra, I would’ve assembled the biggest string, brass, percussion and choir sections ever! I really wanted this score to be epic and bold in its themes and sound. 
John Mansell: Do you perform on any of your scores?
Zaalen Tallis: Everything you hear on a score of mine up to now is all me, but I look forward to working with musicians who are playing my compositions and bringing a whole new life to them in the near future. 
John Mansell: Orchestration I think is quite an important part of the composing process. Do you perform all your own orchestrations, or at times is it not possible to do this?
Zaalen Tallis: I perform all my orchestrations. I don’t know why at any time it couldn’t be possible to do so, but there’s nothing wrong with having an orchestrator come in to help out on that process.
John Mansell: Do you conduct at all?
Zaalen Tallis: If I were ever given the chance to, I’d definitely do it. Maybe one day that chance will come. It would be a fantastic experience.
John Mansell: The score for PANTHEON has been released on iTunes; did you have a hand in compiling what music would be released?
Zaalen Tallis: The always-inspiring Tom Hoover over at Saga Flight Entertainment, who produced Pantheon, chose the tracks for the album together with myself. I don’t think I could let other people compile an album of my music and release it without my input and final ok. 


John Mansell: TIL 3 KNOCKS was a short film that you scored in 2007/8, and you were nominated for an award for this. How did you become involved on this project? Your score was quite sparse – what made you decide to score it in this way?
Zaalen Tallis: I was lucky enough to become friends with the producer and sound designer of TIL 3 KNOCKS, Wendy Graham and she introduced me to her partner Noah Norton who was the director and writer of the film. The both of them are incredibly creative and talented and just wonderful people and we hit it off straight away. 
As far as scoring the film, they told me the story and tone of the film and I went and wrote about a 15 minute suite of music for it before seeing any footage. I felt that the music should have of a tone of mystery, subtle beauty and sorrow about it. The suite turned out to be pretty close to what they were after and worked well with the early edits of the film and with some tweaks and stripping and adding of layers the final score was finished. 
John Mansell: ROSE’S PORTRAIT is a movie that I think is pretty profound and maybe slightly dark. Your score worked wonderfully although it was in no way like the subject matter of the film what size orchestra did you use for this?
Zaalen Tallis: I used a very small orchestra in my little room. The budgets with almost every short independent film simply don’t allow much room to go and get musicians and record them and also the time frames are very tight. It was just myself alone with a couple of instruments and plug-ins, tweaking and tweaking them to get them as close to the sound I want. I felt a small ensemble of instruments, each assigned to a character was the way to go and being a silent film with virtually no dialogue, I felt the connection of an instrument and theme to a character was important to individualize each of them and help project their personalities and emotions to the audience. 
John Mansell: As I have said, you are involved in filmmaking as well as writing film scores. Let’s say you were to make a movie, direct etc, do you think that you would score it or maybe employ a composer to write the score?
Zaalen Tallis: I’d compose it. That’s one big reason why I want to make my own films. I’ve always wanted to create my own films and put my own score to them. It’s a huge task, but I’m up for it.            
John Mansell: How many times do you like to see a movie before you begin to write the score?
Zaalen Tallis: I like to start scoring a film long before seeing any footage. A good director will have a musical tone at least in mind before he or she even starts filming and they will find a composer early on. I like the director to come to me early within the process and tell me about the characters and the journey they are on then let me use my imagination to find the right themes and tone for the film. I think that’s a part of a film composer’s job and the creative journey is so much more fun. It allows for ideas to come out that might never have been thought of. You might be on the money or be way off, but there will be something that hits the right chord and then off you go.
John Mansell: Do you agree with the practice that some filmmakers have of attaching a temp track to a movie to give the composer an idea of what music they want for their film – is it something that you have encountered and if so, was it helpful or maybe a little distracting?
Zaalen Tallis: Temp scores are mainly used for getting the timing of cuts for a scene, however I’m not a fan because a director can get hooked on the temp score and that can turn the composer’s job into a bit of a nightmare. If the director gets hooked, it takes away a lot of creative freedom and discussion and for me, I want to create music unique and individual for every project I do. I have refused to do projects because the director has wanted a tweaked version of the temp score. That’s something I will never do. So yes, temp scores are distracting and I do prefer no tempt score, but I think its just part of the process for many directors these days.
John Mansell: What do you utilize to work out your musical ideas – piano, keyboard or something more technical?
Zaalen Tallis: The keyboard is my main source of playing out my ideas, but also plenty of humming melodies while in the shower. The shower is truly a great place to get ideas going.
John Mansell:


SO PRETTY is a short which runs for under 10 minutes, I have not seen it but it is getting some positive reviews some calling it an anti-TWILIGHT film because it goes back to the old vampire stories etc for its inspiration. When scoring a short is it more difficult for you as a composer to underline the action on screen and develop the score because of the time factor?
Zaalen Tallis: It isn’t more difficult to develop the score. It just sometimes doesn’t allow you to develop the score as much as you’d like to because the characters journeys are much shorter. The great thing is that from every score I write there are ideas within them that I might really like and I can try to work on them in another score.
John Mansell: What would you say is the purpose of music in film?
Zaalen Tallis: I think the purpose of music in film is to help us connect with the emotional core of the characters and world they are in.
John Mansell: I understand that you are working on a number of animated projects at the moment. For you, how does the scoring process differ between live action and animation?
Zaalen Tallis: I actually don’t find any difference at all. I approach animated projects the same as I do live action films. I want to find the soul of the characters and the world they are in and try to capture all of that in the music.
John Mansell: Many thanks for your time…
Zaalen Tallis: It’s been a pleasure, thank you John.