DARK WAVES (BELLEROFONTE), is an Italian produced fantasy/horror movie which received its premiere in 2015, directed by highly creative and inventive film maker Domiziano Christopharo who in recent years has been responsible for bringing to the screen, FLESH MANNEQUINS-TOTALLY UNCUT, VIRUS EXTREME CONTAMINATION and the absorbing and tense Giallo like horror THE TRANSPARENT WOMAN. Christopharo is an all round filmmaker because he not only directs and produces but takes on the role of writer, cinematographer, and also worked on special effects. This all rounder has also turned his hand to editing and acting as well as being able to compose music. Some of his other credits include DOLL SYNDROME, RED KROKODIL, HYDES SECRET NIGHTMARE and BLOODY SIN. Composer Alexander Cimini, has written a lusciously atmospheric work for DARK WAVES there are many moods and colours present throughout the soundtrack and his riveting and at times haunting score elevates and supports the story being acted out on screen marvellously, his score punctuating and underlining each and every segment and although the music is supporting and effective it is never over the top or the intrusive, however it manages to create a deliciously dark yet romantically laced mood, the composers themes and musical nuances seamlessly weaving themselves throughout the storyline adding a greater impact and dimension to it. Cimini has collaborated with Christopharo before on SHOCK;MY ABSTRACTION OF DEATH in 2013 but most notably on RED KROKODIL in 2012 for which the composer provided a wonderfully rich but at the same time subtle sounding work. Alexander Cimini is also an individual that is multi talented within the film industry and although he works mainly as a composer he also regularly works from behind the camera as a director and assistant director, plus he has also worked as an editor and a producer and in his role as a composer has collaborated with other film music Maestros by writing the theme music for films such as REGALO A SORPRESA and HYDES SECRET NIGHTMARE. The composers use of a wordless Female vocal (Soprano Monica Boschetti) within the score for DARK WAVES is affecting and haunting, he creates a phantom like ethereal and mystical musical persona that at times is chilling and icy but also can have the effect of becoming mesmerising, alluring and beautiful. This exceptional performance is fused with outstanding violin and cello solo performances by Roberto Noferini and Sebastiano Severi respectively and together these elements make this score one that should be in every discerning film music aficionados collection.


Maestro Marco Werba also contributed to the soundtrack by writing a lilting and melodic piece entitled LOVE SONG which is the opening credit theme for the movie, this appears at the end of the compact disc (track 17). This is a score that is delicate, powerful and undeniably romantic with an underlying mood that is fearsome, apprehensive but never overwhelming. The compact disc will be available on the KRONOS RECORDS LABEL and my advice to you is to buy it ASAP, this is a welcomed addition to the Kronos catalogue and hopefully you will be welcoming a copy of this score to your own collection very soon.



This summer is proving to be one of blockbusters, which I suppose is nothing unusual at all. STAR TREK BEYOND is one of the latest big movies to hit the screens. This is the thirteenth movie in the STAR TREK franchise, and it is a franchise of films that have seen the musical talents of numerous composers employed upon their various scenarios. The last trio of movies which are reboots of the original films and characters have had scores by rising musical Hollywood star Michael Giacchino. I personally loved the way in which the composer interweaved the original STAR TREK TV theme into his first two soundtracks and also at the same time brought something new and fresh to the party with his own highly inspiring and lavishly lush and dramatic take on trek music, via his thundering STAR TREK theme and also his wonderfully melodic and haunting thematic properties. His latest offering for BEYOND is certainly no different and I think in this score he has done even more in the way of adding what I can only label as the Giacchino sound to the proceedings and putting his own musical fingerprint upon it. Lets get this straight from the start I am certainly no Trekkie, and as Jerry Goldsmith once said “I DON’T GET IT” or at least 97 percent of the stories anyway. All I know is that the stories are certainly exciting and at times original but also they for me can be a little confusing. The scores however I have always enjoyed and the last three by Giacchino have all in my opinion been worthy additions to the long list of musical credits for the series. Giacchino as I have already said manages to retain and incorporate themes and sounds that are already established within the series but the composer also adds new and refreshing leitmotifs, nuances and hints of themes throughout each one of his powerful and dynamic soundtracks. I particularly enjoyed INTO DARKNESS, but I have to say that BEYOND is pretty well up there with the best cues from its predecessor. This latest work contains Giacchino’s stock action cues which are no that different from the composers two previous excursions into STAR TREK territory. The score opens with LOGO AND PROSPER, where the composer employs his own STAR TREK theme and hints at the original Alexander Courage Television theme, but this reference is short lived and restricted to just a small cluster of notes before it returns to the composers own take on the theme. Track number two THANK YOUR LUCKY STAR DATE also commences with the Giacchino central theme at first ushered in by faraway sounding horns which always for me evokes the work of Jerry Goldsmith, the cue continues with a lilting piano solo version of the theme which is then taken on by the string section that give it a warm and sumptuous sound.

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Track number three NIGHT ON THE YORKTOWN is too something of a departure from what can be called traditional Trek music, again it is romantic lush and filled with melody that is carried by the string section which is bolstered and supported by choir. This is like a breath of fresh air as far as I am concerned the theme soars and develops to create a piece that is in a word enchanting. Track number four DANCE OF THE NEBULA is a return to the drama and the tension that we associate with the STAR TREK movies, but although this is essentially an action cue there is within it a core theme that is highly melodious and haunting. SWARM REACTION track number five, is a real powerhouse action led cue, bold and rasping brass wraps itself around thundering percussion with jagged punctuation from more brass and driving strings are the order of the day here, it is a relentless and overwhelming cue that certainly does not disappoint. Track number six HITTING THE SAUCER A LITTLE HARD is another example of fast furious and traumatically tense writing by Giacchino who literally throws everything into the mix with this one, which is one of the longest cues on the soundtrack with a running time of just over 6 mins. For me it evoked the writing styles of Horner, Goldsmith and Williams which of course cant be a bad thing, as well as a fast and non stop mood there is also a softer side to the cue in which horns, strings and a celestial sounding choir combine to bring us an epic rendition of Giacchino’s TREK theme. Ok, my opinion this is good, no its great its everything I expected and more, again the composer has evoked memories of past TREK scores, reminded us of his forays into the franchise and also has introduced us to fresh and original thematic material to savour and enjoy. Other cues of note and interest are JAYLAH DAMAGE, IN ARTIFACTS AS IN LIFE and the alluring A LESSON IN VULCAN MINERALOGY to name but three, in fact every cue has something and every cue is a highlight of this score. Do not think about this just go get it NOW.

THE BFG (2016).


The creative collaborative partnership of film maker Steven Spielberg and composer John Williams has endured for many years, together they have worked on no less than 27 movies. This amazingly fruitful partnership began with THE SUGARLAND EXPRESS back in 1974 and has continued through the 70,s the 80,s and up to 2016 with the latest offering THE BFG which is soon to hit cinema screens in the UK. The Spielberg/Williams collaboration can be likened to other director and composer partnerships such as Attenborough and Fenton, Leone and Morricone,Howard and Horner and Hitchcock and Herrmann. The directors thoughts and ideas being transformed to images on screen and then given greater depth and atmosphere by the composers in question with their musical scores. THE BFG is no exception to any of the films that Williams and Spielberg have worked on together, as always the movie itself is excellent and it is aided greatly by John Williams musical prowess and inventiveness. I will say however that maybe the music for THE BFG is not that original as in you can tell right from the offset that this is going to be another wonderfully thematic listen from the pen of a master music-smith. The CD opens with THE OVERTURE which is a relatively short cue running for just under two minutes. Flyaway flutes are ushered in by delicate sounding harp which then give way to a lusciously rich sounding theme performed by the string section in a way that can only be written by Mr Williams. Track number two THE WITCHING HOUR, begins with a slightly more apprehensive atmosphere which is relayed by piano underlined and supported by strings and woodwind, it moves into a slower and solitary sounding piece that is scattered with little comedic nuances performed on oboe that is enhanced by woods and a light dusting of harp here and there, its like the theme is just waiting to erupt or turn into something grander at any moment, instead the composer gives us a subdued and rather lilting piano theme for a while and as this develops the strings and woods are in the background causing little stirs of activity, eventually the cu changes direction and becomes more and more threatening, gaining tempo with the composer adding percussion and brass to the proceedings that are themselves underlined by strings which begin to fly but soon are quelled as the cue reaches its conclusion. I may be mistaken but in the opening section of the track I am certain I heard a rather more down tempo and delicate arrangement of Williams theme from THE FURY and this is repeated within other cues as the score progress’s.


Track number four DREAM COUNTRY is a delight, Williams at his melodic best providing us with one of those low key but at the same time hauntingly beautiful themes that he does so well as in STAR WARS, SCHINDLERS LIST and MUNICH etc. It begins very slowly but soon develops with the strings being bolstered by woodwind, shimmering sounds from the percussion and eventually luxuriously rich strings that melt the emotions of any listener. There is similarities here between CLOSE ENCOUNTERS when Williams brings into the equation flyaway fast flutes that are underlined by jaunty strings. With track number five, SOPHIES NIGHTMARE the score returns to a more urgent and apprehensive mood, strings again but this time setting the pace for a highly charged piece that includes more from the woods and brass as they join with percussion to create a track that is filled with tension and fearfulness. This is as one might expect a soundtrack certainly worth having, maybe not a classic but indeed one that will be listened to and returned to many times. Recommended.



The original GHOSTBUSTERS was without a doubt a popular movie, indeed nowadays it has something of a cult following, as does its soundtrack both the songs and the score by the late great Elmer Bernstein. So when reviewing the score for the new GHOSTBUSTERS movie I decided to try at least not to make any comparisons between the two scores. Essentially a comedy movie the new GHOSTBUSTERS also has its fair share of scary moments and jumps and jolts, it also contains a highly polished and atmospheric score by composer Theodore Shapiro, we all as film music collectors are aware of the ample talents of this composer, his soundtracks have entertained us over the past few years when he worked on such movies as THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA, SPY, MARLEY AND ME, ST VINCENT, DINNER FOR SCHMUCKS, THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY and his particularly inventive score for TRUMBO etc etc, but I have to say with GHOSTBUSTERS the composer has certainly pulled out all of the stops and thrown into the ring a soundtrack that is wonderfully thematic as well as being dynamic, dramatic and highly imposing.


The composers brooding and sometimes dark and menacing compositions have about them an apprehensive aura but at the same time we have here a score that is filled with broad and expansive musical moments which at times verge on the epic when Shapiro enlists the aid of choir. The opening cue THE ALDRIDGE MANSION is a tense and foreboding piece in which strings and faraway sounding horns combine and build slowly to create an uneasy and imposing mood which verges upon but never really achieves its crescendo, but still achieves the desired effect of planting the listener firmly upon the edge of their seat. Track number two THE GARRET ATTACK after a brief introduction is a more upbeat and certainly more powerful cue, thundering percussion, and fearsome “Omen-like” choral performances push the track along at pace with strings, brass and dark sounding piano present to assist. Track number three, NEVER INVITED is a mix of action and respite, in my opinion the composer has created an old skool score which certainly works for me, brimming with strong and vibrant themes, dark and powerful cues that are enhanced and complimented by a handful of what can be categorised as lilting and melodious nuances which at times raise their heads bringing a welcomed tranquil atmosphere to a more or less non stop full throttle score. I personally was impressed by the composers approach for the movie, as I say basically a comedy with a few dark undertones and Shapiro’s music reflects this but leans more towards the dramatic and foreboding. It is overflowing with inventive and richly dark compositions that take ones breath away and at times make you jump out of your skin, this is a score to add to your collection as soon as possible. It looks like the movie is set for box office success and maybe who knows a sequel, if this does happen don’t call the GHOSTBUSTERS call Theodore Shapiro. Go Buy it now…….


Born in Pasadena, California, Richard Bellis began his show business career as a child actor. He worked in movies and television until the age of 12, then turned all his attentions toward a career in music and left acting behind. Within months of graduating from high school, he became musical director for the touring version of the popular rock-and-roll showcase SHINDIG  (1964). This was followed by a stint with vocalist Johnny Mathis and a  ten year period where he was arranging and conducting for  a number of Las Vegas headliners. In the early part of 1976 the composer decided to  leave touring behind and started to turn his attention to scoring films on a more or less full time basis. He won an Emmy for his inventive and chilling score for Stepehen Kings IT (1990) and also garnered Emmy nominations for HBO’s DOUBLECROSSED one year later in  (1991) and again in 1993 for ABC’s  DOUBLE, DOUBLE TOIL AND TROUBLE. As well as his career as a film music composer,  Bellis is a former president of the Society of Composers and Lyricists and served on the faculty of the University of Southern California for 17 years, where he lectured in the Scoring for Television and Motion Pictures program; and acts as host/mentor for ASCAP’s annual Film Scoring Workshop.



You started out as a child actor and were in the 1954 sci-fi movie THEM and also had parts in TV shows such as BATMAN, MY THREE SONS, CHEYENNE etc up until around the age of 12, what made you decide to leave acting and move into a career in music?

I was not a good actor. I was merely a cute kid which, in those days, could get you work.

What musical studies did you undertake and where?

Piano lessons started at around age 8 and then my dad, the music teacher, would satisfy my voracious appetite for theory, harmony and counterpoint through middle school. I spent three months in college taking all kinds of music courses. My college career was abruptly interrupted by an offer to conduct for Johnny Mathis on a world tour. The rest of my music education was acquired at the writing table and on the podium.


Was writing music for TV and film something that you had in your mind to do when you began to study music or was this something that decided upon later as your career progressed?

Not at all. I was in love with music. With writing music. Arranging, specifically. My dad was a middle school band and orchestra teacher so he was able to give me theory, harmony and counterpoint lessons when I was 12 and 13 years old. I started arranging for various bands when I was 13 and 14. By the time I was 18, I was working as a professional arranger. I loved film music but there were no schools teaching it and only one book I could find titled “Underscore” by Frank Skinner. As I started to tire of the road, working as a conductor for live acts, the idea of being a film composer became attractive.


You have worked on both TV productions and feature films, what do you think are the main differences between the two mediums as a composer?

Time and money. Although in today’s digital world, feature films are being made for much smaller budgets than the television movies on which I worked in the 80’s and early 90’s. Those TV movies were budgeted around 3 million dollars and I had a decent budget and around 21 days in which to write a 45 to 55 minute score. The time and money factor relates not just to the music budget but to the entire film. When you score a well written, well acted, well directed feature which has a budget of 30 or 40 million dollars, the likelihood is that it will be a decent picture and the music budget will allow you to do a decent job. On those projects it becomes difficult to fail. You’d really have to work at it.


Your score for the TV mini series IT from 1990, is held in high esteem by collectors and critics alike, how did you become involved on the project and what size orchestra did you have for the score?

The phone call for Stephen King’s IT followed a four year period in which there was so little music work that my wife and I started a custom woodworking business. The call was from Jim Green for whom I had scored a number of projects (prior to the four year drought) from the beginning of his producing career.
We used several different sized orchestras but I seem to remember that the largest was around 55. It was, after all, a television miniseries.


Many directors make use of a temp track on their movies before the composer is involved, I know many composers dread the TEMP as they say at times the filmmaker will only hear this and dismiss anything that the composer might write for the movie, what experience have you had with temp tracks and do you think they can be a useful tool or guide for the composer when spotting a movie or are they a hindrance?

My personal experience involves working with the same people for much of my career. In addition, I did my first movie in the late 70’s and at that time, we still played a few themes on the piano for the filmmaker. So I was never typically affected by a temp score the way many are. I was trusted.
In order for the temp score to be a productive tool, both the director and the composer need to behave a certain way. The idea is to “ discuss” exactly WHAT IT IS ABOUT THE TEMP THAT IS WORKING SO WELL IN THIS SCENE – in dramatic terms. The director would be wise to change the temp periodically in order to narrow his or her focus on just what works, what doesn’t work and, most importantly, why?
The composer needs to initiate the discussion about “ Why is this music working so well for you?” “Is it the (nothing musical) the energy, the solemnity, the joy, the desolation?”, all dramatic terms. The worst thing the composer can do – in order to ‘not make waves’ – is to acquiesce without trying to determine what the dramatic reason for the love-of-temp actually is. Aspiring composers have the hardest time questioning a filmmaker about these issues.


When you are scoring a movie do you orchestrate all of the music or are there times when this is not possible due to the time factor and use an orchestrator?

I love to orchestrate. I think I like it more than composing. In the days when I was scoring movies for television, I would have 21 days to score and orchestrate approx. 45 – 55 minutes of music. If I orchestrated, I would spend two of the three weeks composing and one week orchestrating. It finally occurred to me that, If I hire an orchestrator, I could compose for three weeks and the orchestrator could orchestrate for three weeks. Which do you think would produce the better score?

Likewise do you conduct all of your scores or is it better for you to work from the control box so that you can monitor how the music is working for the movie?

I prefer to conduct and be in the ‘live’ room with my people, the musicians. That said, if I had the feeling that the director was not sure about the music or I felt that he or she would be looking for problems, I would certainly be seated right next that person in the booth.


Maurice Jarre once told me that he thought the film had to be good for the music to be good. Do you think it is possible for a good score to help a not very good film and vice versa can an inappropriate score damage the impact of a good movie?

Creating the score for a great film is hard. Creating a score for a not-so-good film is harder. Can the music help? Yes. Can the music make it a better movie? No. Good music might, at best, make it tolerable to watch.
Can a bad score negatively impact a good film? Absolutely. There are numerous examples, none of which I am prepared to name. Some were good efforts at a creative direction that didn’t work but most are the product of inexperience or unpreparedness.


You have worked on numerous genres, is there any particular type of movie or story line that you warm to more than any other?

No. I love a musical challenge. As long as music is needed and respected as part of the post-production process, I’m in 100%, whatever the genre.

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Back to comparisons between assignments, you have worked on shorts, documentaries and also theme park attractions, which would you say is the most difficult of these to work on?

The one with the shortest deadline and the smallest budget.


Do you perform on any of your scores?
No. I hire “experts” for all phases of production of the score. Music editor, scoring mixer, copyists and musicians. I am only an expert at composing and orchestration.
I’ve always said, “If I am the best piano player on the session, we’re in big trouble.”

What do you think is the purpose of music in film ?

That is the big question these days. The only wrong answer from a composer is, “I don’t know”. Composers are supposed to be experts and servants at the same time. The expert must have an idea of what music is supposed to do in each film. If the composer doesn’t have any idea, then, by default, the director must become the music expert. That may be a roll the director is uncomfortable playing.
For me, music does what the camera can’t see and the dialogue and sound FX can’t fully convey. We enhance. We stimulate a universal emotional response from the (collective) audience.


How many times do you like to see a movie or any project in film or TV before you begin to start to get any fixed ideas about what type of music it requires or indeed where the music should be placed to best serve the picture, or is it an ongoing thing that maybe alters everyday because of editing etc?

I like to spend as much time as possible with the film (and my subconscious mind). The “top of my head” is not necessarily the best part. The more time I have to think and “play” with musical ideas, the better the score will be. Elmer Bernstein is quoted as saying, “I look at the film 20 times, once in the morning and once in the afternoon until the film tells me what to do”. I like that. I would just add, “until the film tells me how to satisfy the director’s vision”

You lecture at University about film music, what does this entail and how long are the students enrolled on the course for?

The are so many university courses in film music including Masters and even Doctorate degrees now. I don’t teach at any single university but rather do masterclasses and visiting professorships at many different colleges and universities around the world. I also present at many of the film music festivals which are very popular these days.


When composing do you work straight to manuscript or do you utilise a more technical approach also do you work out your ideas on piano or via a synthetic method?

If am working on an acoustic score, I will start at the piano and develop the musical ideas. Then I go to the computer and create the various cues. For me it is the difference between being the architect and the builder. Separate jobs and separate skills. Give an architect a pneumatic nailer and a skill saw and you might not like the result.

Many collectors myself included think that film music over the past two or three decades has again become popular, This is mainly I think because of the return to the symphonic score as opposed to the song score or fully synthetic soundtrack, what is your opinion of the film music of today and are there any younger composers that you find particularly interesting?

I think you’re right. I think it started with Jaws and Star Wars and E.T., etc. Young people saw these films in their most impressionable years and are today a large part of the fan base.
My only concern today is that our newly-minted composers are looking to emulate the top composers of the day. They are studying and listening to John Williams, James Newton Howard and Hans Zimmer, etc. as if that is the sound they should be writing. “Film music”. I always ask them, “What do you think John Williams is listening to? What is Hans Zimmer listening to? They are listening to the farthest thing from “film music” they can” The idea is to THINK like John Williams and to THINK like Hans Zimmer. Film music in not a KIND of music like tango, jazz, klezmer, polka, etc. It is storytelling music and whatever genre that calls for, that is the kind of music we should be creating. If we start scoring films with “film music” it is the equivalent of musical incest.

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What composers or artists would you say have influenced you, not just in film music but across all the musical genres
James Taylor
Doctor John
Henry Mancini
Bernard Herrmann
Max Steiner
Elton John
Claus Ogerman
Many more


You have worked on a number of projects for Disney for their theme parks, ie THE INDIANA JONES ADVENTURE and STAR TOURS to name but two, is the company very hands on when it comes to music for their projects or is it just a case of they know what they want and brief you and then let you get on with the job in hand, and when was it that you started your association with them?

Disney attractions tend to run for years, even decades. Yes, they are very hands on. There is a ‘backstory’ behind each attraction. That is because there are so many different departments involved in the creation of an attraction that whenever a question arises, whether it be about the mechanical ride or the narrators script or the music, they can refer to the backstory as a reference. A great deal of time and effort goes into the creation of each attraction and, as composer, I was always invited in early and welcomed as a member of the creative team.

My thanks to Richard Bellis for his quick response to my interview request and his wonderful and interesting answers to my questions.