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Massimo Sammi.

At a small record store in Genoa, Italy, a young kid finds the CD he was eagerly looking for, under the letter “M” section. The soundtrack to “Hamlet” by Ennio Morricone. That was a turning point for Massimo Sammi, which ignited a love for film music that defined both his musical and personal life.

After moving to Los Angeles in 2014, he enrolled in the Certificate Program in Film Scoring at UCLA Extension, and through the school’s connections he landed several jobs assisting composers actively working in film and TV.  As a result of an extensive on-the-job training writing hundreds of minutes of music as lead and additional composer, his writing credits include animation series, documentaries, romantic comedies, holiday features, westerns, dramas, super-hero parodies and independent shorts. His most recent score for the action-comedy “Plunder Quest” won the Best Soundtrack Award at the New York International Film Awards and at the Masters of Cinema International Film Festival.

Plunder Quest has a rousing and entertaining score, it’s like Raiders meets Star Wars, meets Star Trek, meets Pirates of the Caribbean and The Goonies. How did you become involved on the movie and what was your brief when you were asked to score the movie?

First of all, thank you so much for your kind words, I’m so glad you liked the score! I got in touch with the production company towards the end of 2020, and they got back in touch right before they started filming. Kalani, the director, sent me the script, I read it cover to cover and I really loved it. The story was full of twists and turns, and I got really excited at the thought of writing music for it. The movie was conceived in the vein of classic movies of the 80s and 90s, particularly The Goonies, Back to the Future, and Raiders of the Lost Ark. I was very lucky, because Dave Grusin, Alan Silvestri and John Williams are all musicians that are amazing in their knowledge of jazz beyond the orchestral and classical vocabulary, and so, coming from. a jazz background, in studying their scores I felt like a kid in a candy store, finding so many interesting chord progressions and a sophisticated harmonic language, that was accessible at the same time. 

Was the film tracked with a temp music track at all, and was it helpful or distracting if one was used?

We didn’t have a temp track, which I found helpful in terms of cohesiveness of the score, and in terms of freedom to experiment with different things. 

Its sounds like a large orchestra but I may be wrong, how many players did you have for the score and where was the soundtrack recorded?

I’m really flattered that it sounds realistic, the only live instrument in the score is the live trumpet and everything else was programmed by me in Cubase. 

The score for Plunder Quest is on most digital platforms, did you compile the soundtrack album, and will there be a compact disc release?

We worked together with the label (Movie Score Media) to put together the tracks in the most meaningful way possible – I’m not aware as of now of CD release.

Do you conduct, or do you prefer to supervise the session from the recording booth?

I had some training as a conductor here in Los Angeles, and it’s certainly a thrilling experience to do that whenever it’s possible, but there are many many people in town there are more qualified than me in conducting so I think it depends how many factors. If I orchestrated the music myself, then I feel more confident in conducting it, whereas if someone else orchestrated it then I prefer maybe to supervise from the recording booth since I’m not a great sight-reader. 

What is your routine when scoring a movie, by this I mean do you establish a central theme first and then build the score around this, or do you prefer to tackle smaller/larger cues before establishing the core theme?

I think it changes from project to project, in this case I wrote the end credits suite so was able to create the main themes and then we decided to score the movie backwards deciding how to reveal incrementally themes throughout the movie. The story has a beautiful arc and we were very careful not to be anti-climactic and to reserve the biggest energy for the cues that are turning points in the story and fill the remaining parts of the movie with sections that were leading to the big moments. There are also a few montages for example the track “This Place is Weird” is for a montage of a very intense poker game, the track “Trip to the Island” is a montage with drone shots looking at the boat as it sails to Bannerman Island in New York. Those were big moments and of course the finale of the movie was crucial, so we reserved a lot of attention to them first.

When you are asked to score a project, do you like to see the film initially on your own or do you prefer it if the director is present so you can begin the process of spotting there and then?

When possible, I try to read the script as soon as possible, and let my subconscious begin the work, without the visual reference, before the movie has been filmed, that’s what happened with Plunder Quest and other projects. And one of my favourite moments in all the process is to have a conversation with the director based on the scene numbers of the script, almost as if I had to write music for a play, in which we decide the tone and the intensity of each scene, in what could be called a pre-spotting session. That moment is truly inspiring, leaving so much space to brainstorming and possibilities, since everything is still developing, and one of the reasons I really love this job. Then we usually go in detail with a spotting session once the movie is locked, and in an ideal scenario we end up not using any temp, since we already established things in detail.

What for you is the purpose of a score in a movie?

It could serve many purposes; in some movies the score can create a tone or a mood without necessarily being connected to a specific character or place whereas in other cases is thematic or connected to the characters which is what happened in Plunder Quest. But I think that the main purpose is to fulfil the vision of the director in terms of the message that he intends to give with the movie and of course the clearer the vision of the director the easier is the job for the composer because in that case he just has to really pay attention to the story and pay attention to not to be too invasive but just have a propulsive function, since the story is very strong by itself. Kalani’s writing I think is great so in my case my job is very easy because I just had to support a very solid architecture that came from his talent as a writer and director, whereas sometimes it’s not as easy.

How much time were given to work on the movie from start to finish writing and recording the score?

They were incredibly patient because I had to take a break due to my brother’s wedding for which I had to flew fly back to Italy, so it was not a continuous process. I would say that it was probably around three months if we take away the break, because I was also working on other projects at the same time. But this project was something that I really liked so I really wanted to avoid cutting corners and deliver the best cue I could every time.

It’s great to hear so many themes within a score, the music is inventive and fully supportive of the movies scenarios and characters, do you think that the current trend of non-thematic film scores is just a passing phase and maybe we will return to music for main titles etc soon?

Thank you! I think that the current trend has brought the focus on the sonic medium itself, rather than a melodic or a harmonic progression, and it’s probably just a different concept of themes. I’m a big fan of musicians that use harmony as a narrative tool since it’s probably more like the kind of music I grew up with which is classical and jazz. There are composers that are revolutionary in the way they’re changing the perspective that is something that I deeply respect and admire, but there is something about the shifting harmonies and reharmonization of the same theme in different ways that I find incredibly fulfilling and something that to me comes more naturally. 

Who would you say in the music world has influenced you or inspired you to do what you do?

There are so many amazing musicians and composers from the past and the present, it’s really hard to make a list, but I would say that it’s constantly shifting, because both because of curiosity and need for survival you have to expand your vision and learn new things. The one constant is probably that there’s nothing that I find more exciting than music which appears simple and approachable, but that has a lot of craft and knowledge behind it. That’s why I like John Williams, Alan Silvestri, Dario Marianelli and Debbie Wiseman because they’re so deep that they’re not afraid to write music that sounds simple or frugal. Even a child can sing “Hedwig’s Theme” or the opening theme from “Forrest Gump”, but only giants like them can write music that is so accessible. And I look for inspiration in that simplicity and clarity in any genre of music I listen, and to try to achieve that the best I can, working and studying every day to get better at it.

What musical training did you have and were you from a family background that was musical in any way?

My older brother played piano and had a band, so I guess I started  taking piano lessons at 8yrs of age to emulate him but I was literally falling asleep during the lessons, which I found incredibly boring at the time. Later I started studying classical guitar around 13 years old, and soon I got interested in jazz as well, thankfully my music teacher was very acknowledgeable in music theory and harmony, so I received a solid foundation in my early years that would have helped me later. At the same time, I was spending around 3 hours every day for several years transcribing by ear everything that caught my attention, in many different genres, mostly jazz. In 2004 I started to study jazz composition and improvisation by correspondence with a teacher from Boston, Charlie Banacos and soon I auditioned and got accepted at New England Conservatory where he was teaching. While there I fell in love with jazz arranging and classical composition, which opened the door for film scoring. The students at New England Conservatory were incredible, they played like seasoned studio musicians and they were fresh out of high school, so having your music performed at such level, while approaching composition for the first time, was a real thrill. Meanwhile I was also studying music production in Digital Performer privately with some Berklee teachers, and in 2010 I attended the Buddy Baker film scoring workshop at New York University, where I met some of my future teachers that I studied with during my Master’s degree. In 2014 I moved to Los Angeles, and I attended UCLA Extension which was really fantastic on many levels, and some of the teachers became my mentors and some of my best friends. I also kept doing private score studies with one of the teachers from the school, which were incredibly important, since they introduced me to a lot of classical music repertoire that I knew only superficially. I also attended many workshops from the Hollywood Music Workshop, which are absolutely amazing. I’m a lifelong music student and try to practice guitar for at least around 40 min. every day and spend the same time every day studying scores, trying to improve my orchestral knowledge which at the time is still really basic, as well as counterpoint, chromatic harmony and generally everything that can serve as a catalyst for the creativity and keeps my mind and imagination active, otherwise I find myself getting too caught up in the patterns of what  I already know and when that happens your music starts to become stagnant and predictable.

coming in summer 2022.

What are you working on now?

I’m working on an indie romantic comedy that just finished filming and soon I’ll be starting to work on the next movie by Kalani Hubbard, another adventure comedy called “The Squatchers”. I’m also working on a jazz arrangement for a flute orchestra here in LA.

Many thanks to the composer for answering our questions.


If I were to say that Movie Score Media were an industrious recording label that would be something of an understatement, we all know that this label champions new and up and coming composers and also releases scores by already established film music Maestros, recently the label have out done themselves by releasing so many quality scores digitally, and one of these is Plunder Quest, which has a rousing and delightfully entertaining soundtrack composed by Italian composer Massimo Sammi. I f I were to say that the music is a fusion of many styles I would not be lying, because this is a score that has so many themes and motifs that it is really difficult to comprehend that the music is from just one movie, think Raiders, Star Wars and Pirates of the Caribbean and your nearly there, it’s a dramatic, romantic and powerful soundtrack that bristles with a rich thematic content.

The movie which is a 2022 production is an action/comedy, directed by Kalani Hubbard and stars Katherine Flannery, Eric Rosenberg, and Stefanie Hubbard. In which we are treated to an unlikely but entertaining plot which focuses upon the search for a valuable prohibition-era whiskey that is hidden on an island.

Thomas Waters, embarks on a quest to find the liquid gold and ends up on the adventure of a lifetime. The score is a classic mix of 1980’s and 1990’s symphonic styles all’a John Williams and Jerry Goldsmith, filled with fanfares and fast paced action pieces that are laced with wonderfully sweeping strings.

This maybe a new movie but the musical score evokes those grand and vibrant sounds of both the Golden and Silver ages of Hollywood, and along the way draws from a multicoloured musical palette that includes raucous and comedic sounding passages and anthem like superhero sounding interludes that seem to burst forth out of nowhere, then we are treated to the lush and lavish Hollywood sound that is luxuriously romantic with rich strings dominating.


Massimo Sammi studied classical guitar at the “Niccolò Paganini” Conservatory in Genoa, Italy, he then moved to Boston to enrol at the New England Conservatory of Music to study with jazz supremo Charlie Banacos. Shortly after his graduation, he enrolled in New York University’s Master’s in Scoring for Film and Multimedia. After moving to Los Angeles in 2014, he enrolled in the Certificate Program in Film Scoring at UCLA Extension, and through the school’s connections he landed several jobs assisting composers actively working in film and TV.

His score for the action-comedy Plunder Quest won the Best Soundtrack Award at the New York International Film Awards and at the Masters of Cinema International Film Festival. Plunder Quest is an entertaining and enriching score and one that every film music fan should add to their collection NOW. I am sure we will be hearing more from this composer in the not too distant future. Highly recommended.  




Award-winning film music composer John Koutselinis has composed high-quality film scores with notable collaborations comprising of music written for producers and directors, such as Gary Kurtz (Star Wars IV & V), Brian Presley (The Great Alaskan Race), Richard Bazley (Disney, Warner Bros) Steve Stone (Entity), Danny Wilson (Nephilim), Harry & George Kirby (Accident Man 2) and Mel Smith (Director of High Hills and Low Lifes, Radioland Murders – Story by George Lucas). He has recently composed the score for the film ‘The Alaskan Great Race’ by Director/Producer Brian Presley, also starring Henry Thomas (E.T., Legends of the Fall) and Treat Williams, among others. (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack album has been released by SONY MUSIC/MILAN). He also written music for the films ‘Hostile Territory’ (Brian Presley, Matt McCoy & Brad Leyland), ‘DEUS’ with David O’Hara (The Departed, Harry Potter)  & Claudia Black (Farscape), Katherine of Alexandria (Peter O’Toole, Steven Berkoff & Edward Fox), ‘Nephilim’ (John Savage – award-winning score, music performed by The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra) and Centurion Resurrection’ (Gary Kurtz -Producer, Richard Bazley – Director).

In addition, he has composed music for over 40 short films, including film scores for the short films by K&K Productions, which among others include Dragonball Z and The League of Legends, which have collectively generated over 15 Million views. K&K Productions have also created the film ‘Cable: The Chronicles of Hope’ which premiered at London Comic con.  John is the recipient of 4 awards, including the ‘Best Music Score’ award by the Sydney Independent Film Festival for the original score of the film ‘Nephilim’, and the ‘Best Music’ award by the British Horror Film Festival for the original score of the motion picture ‘In Extremis’. He is also the recipient of several nominations, including nominations by the prestigious ‘Jerry Goldsmith Awards’ (‘The Rocket Boy’) and a shortlist nomination by ‘The World Soundtrack Awards’ (‘The Great Alaskan Race’). His latest works include the music score for the motion picture ‘Hostile Territory’ by writer/director Brian Presley and ‘DEUS’ by writer/director Steve Stone.

One of your recent scores is for the western/American Civil War historical drama based on true events Hostile Territory, which has an epic sounding score, in fact it is a score I have had on loop for a few days now and I never tire of it. You worked with Director Brian Presley before on The Great Alaskan Race, was it a case of you had collaborated before and it worked so he contacted you again for his latest movie?

Thank you for the kind words on the score for Hostile Territory, very much appreciated! 

Indeed, I worked in the past with Writer/Director Brian Presley with whom I had a wonderful collaboration for the film ‘The Great Alaskan Race’ and I was thrilled to be called to write the music for Hostile Territory! The Great Alaskan Race’ was a great creative experience in connection to writing the music for the film. The film itself is beautifully made, my experience with Brian and the production team at P12 Films was wonderful and recording with The City of Prague Philharmonic was once again great. 

Brian Presley also encouraged me to write thematic material, something which I personally strive for, and I was thrilled to have been given the opportunity to take this form of direction.  A short story which can highlight the relationship between composer and director, was that the main theme for ‘The Great Alaskan Race’ was created from a love theme I wrote for the characters of Kiana and Leonhard Seppala. In discussions on the score with Brian Presley, he did let me know that the short love theme was something that he felt would work for the main theme. And to my appreciation, it turned out to be the right choice. A piece that I wrote somewhat passingly for a short love theme segment, ended up being the main theme of the film. This is an example of the ongoing process between the composer and director which is extremely creative.

‘The Great Alaskan Race’ was a great experience and very grateful it led to my participation to ‘Hostile Territory’ as music composer.   

Sadly, I have not been able to see the movie yet, but have seen sections, the music is certainly affecting to listen to away from any images, at times being anthem like. What size orchestra did you have for the score and what percentage of the music was realized via virtual or synthetic instrumentation and who performs the haunting solo voice on the score?

As with many productions today, scores are leaning towards been produced by Virtual Orchestras, which we also followed this train of thought, but I was very happy to be given the opportunity to return to Prague and work with members of The City Of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra. 

We mostly employed strings at nearly full orchestral capacity, but we also used solo instrumentalists such as the wonderful Anna Phoebe on the solo Violin, and Marek Elznic on the Cello.  In addition, I have been a long-time collaborator with vocalists Melany Dantes-Mortimer (which you can hear on ‘The Battle of High Bridge’) and Rebecca Joelle (who can be heard on the pieces titled ‘The Rescue’ and ‘Finale & End Credits’). On this occasion, I believe you are referring to Melany Dantes-Mortimer who performed the haunting vocals on the piece titled ‘The Battle of High Bridge’.

Hugely grateful for their contribution to the score, as I am for the wonderful musicians at The City Of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra and the soloists that took part on the recordings. 

Were you given any specific instructions, or did you have any requests regarding the sound or style of the score by the director or producers?

I had several discussions with the director, Brian Presley, about the style of the film score, and he gave me a few examples of what he was looking for the music of Hostile Territory.  I do remember writing the main theme and I was happy to know that it was received very well. We also discussed the role of the score in the film. Hostile Territory is a hard-edged Western film, and as such, I paid great attention to not overwrite the score, to give the film space, so that the viewer can be immersed in the difficult circumstances depicted in the film and highlight important moments with the music. The theme was sparsely written and can be heard in its completion at the film’s epilogue. 

I was grateful to be asked to write a thematic score, which is something that I personally love, and as such I wrote the main theme, and a few secondary themes.

One such secondary theme can be heard on the piece titled ‘This Land’ and ‘The Capture & and act of Kindness’, and also a separate theme was written for Phil (jack Calgrove’s son),  and his partner, as they adopt their new family and embark on their journey to a new life. Sonically, we didn’t discuss veering off from the orchestral sound, something for which I was very happy. At the same time, I elaborated with electronic percussions, doubling real sounding percussions to give the overall sound a larger body.  Also, as it is also a common practice, the orchestral sounds were doubled at times with synthesizers, especially the bottom-end of the arrangements. 

How many times do you like to see a movie before you begin the process of deciding what style you will employ or where music should be placed?

I believe at the very most, 2 to 3 times. I write instinctively, in terms of where I feel the music should be placed (unless I am given specific instructions). After discussions with the director and/or the production team, I distil a good idea as of what the style of the music should be for the film. 

Once the style and a theme has been established, the process beyond that point is very much about deciding what cues should be written in terms of placement and tone, and it then becomes a continuous work, which entails receiving feedback from the production, and shaping up any parts that need improvement.

In terms of music spotting, in my experience, some directors like to see how I furnish the film with my work and decide later as of what needs to be kept, and other directors have an idea of where the music should be placed, but it is often that the former takes place in the process. 

Was writing music for film something that you had always wanted to do, and what were your earliest memories of any kind of music?

Indeed, writing music for films was a goal of mine since a very young age. I had no specific musical direction up until I was introduced to music for films. I wasn’t introduced to film music up until The Empire Strikes Back was released. I was fascinated with the music, which remains my most favourite score of all time (tied with The Extra Terrestrial).  At that time, I wasn’t aware of film music at all, and it wasn’t until a friend of mine played to me the vinyl album from The Empire Strikes Back.

The moment I heard The Imperial March, I was taken by the sheer power and beauty of the music. It was since then that I wanted to pursue the avenue of becoming a composer for films. 

Within Hostile Territory there are certain passages and cues that for me evoked the sound achieved by James Horner, at times there was a Gaelic lilt present, are there any composers or artists that have influenced you or inspired you to do what you do.

As with many composers, John Williams was my first and biggest inspiration for music for films and composition in general. The greats Jerry Goldsmith & James Horner were also a big part of my upbringing. I suppose your early years are hardwired in terms of one’s influences. I also loved music from many wonderful composers whilst growing up, such as Basil Poledouris, George Fenton, Robert Folk, Alan Silvestri, Elliot Goldenthal, Ryuichi Sakamoto, the synthesized scores by Brad Fiedel, Éric Serra & Vangelis,  and later, the hugely inventive Hans Zimmer.  

What musical education did you receive?

In my early years I received standard musical education through my school.  It wasn’t until later in life where I met Mr Themis Roussos who furthered my musical education.  Mr Roussos was the most talented musician I have ever met. He was an incredibly accomplished Jazz Piano player, composer, and orchestrator, and a hugely gifted teacher. 

He taught me Jazz Harmony and Orchestration, he was a truly incredible musician and a wonderful person,  with a seemingly endless knowledge of harmonization, which was his passion. I am very grateful that our paths crossed and thankful for his invaluable teachings. 

Do you carry out the orchestration work on your scores, or is this not always possible?

As most work is done digitally nowadays, I , as many fellow composers, work with a DAW to compose music for films. This is of course because technology has come to the point where a composer is able to digitally orchestrate within a DAW an entire score, and as there is an immediate requirement by production companies to listen to near finished demos, this is the preferred mode of operation.  I think the best way to describe the process is that, I fully orchestrate my works whilst working with a sequencing program. But when it comes down to creating readable scores for musicians, I outsource my compositions in digital form to the orchestrator. This is for the further process of rendering the digital score I provided, in scoring programs such as Sibelius or Dorico, for the orchestrator to then create a conductor’s score and musician’s parts for the live recordings. This indeed takes place because of time constrains, but I do ,99% of the time, provide digital orchestrations that are the exact music that is played live by the orchestra.

The score for Hostile Territory is released on Movie Score Media as a digital release, how much music did you compose for the movie and is all the score included on the release?

Indeed, I was grateful for Movie Score Media to release the score. I composed music for most of the film, I would say perhaps 80+ minutes of music. The album for ‘Hostile Territory’ has a selection of the music composed for the film, and two Suites, one for the Main Theme and also a secondary theme titled ‘This Land’. I am personally a fan of albums that have short duration. My most favourite albums don’t have more than 12 to 14 tracks. I believe this way the score can be heard in a more focused way, and an album can also run better this way.  As such I opted for a 15-track album on this release.

Hostile Territory is such a thematic work, the music purveys so many emotions, and each track could easily be a main theme for a movie, are themes in your film scores important to you, as there is a trend of late to provide an underlying sound rather than music in films?

I very much appreciate your kind words on the score. Film scores take a great deal of work, and it is always gratifying hearing encouraging words for one’s works.  As I grew up with composers such as John Williams and Jerry Goldsmith (amongst other wonderful composers), I was listening to music that was heavily thematic. Each film had its own sound and theme or themes. This train of thought has been imbedded in me and whenever possible I try to introduce a theme to a score.  This is not always possible as some films cannot take or need a musical theme.  On this occasion, I was grateful that I had the opportunity to write a score which required thematic material. 

What purpose does or should music have in film and TV, what role does it play if you like. So, the film is finished, and the director has good performances from the actors, the right photography, script etc, what can you as a composer add to this with your music?

This is a great question. Film music has always existed to enhance the performances and/or action one sees on the screen. It has been said that the best music for films is the one which is felt, and not heard consciously. To which I partially agree. Of course, not all film music should get in the way of the dialogue. It should enhance it. It should support it and if need be, elevate it.  However, sometimes music can be on an equal platform with the one of the actor’s performances and the given action within a film.

What would the effect of Lord of the Rings be without Howard Shore’s music (who, by the way, spend two years on the score)? Jaws without John William’s Score? E.T., Star Wars and so on? Batman without the musical contributions of Danny Elfman, Elliot Goldenthal, Hans Zimmer & James Newton Howard and as of late Michael Giacchino?

As a film music composer, I can see the process of film with no music, to the finished product. A film without music can be shockingly empty. Or equally shockingly different, with alternative music from the one heard on the finished product, one has come to be familiar with.

In the same token, cinematography has changed. The film production tools can create sometimes denser results, as such the music should act accordingly. The flipside to this argument also is that some films need minimal to no music at all. The argument is multifaceted, and I believe the answer greatly depends on each production, as I suppose, each film has its own musical needs. 

You have worked on various types of films animation, feature, and shorts, you scored Nephilim which was an animated feature, do you approach animation in a different way from scoring a live action feature, and when scoring a short is it harder as in more difficult to write a score and establish a style or sound with a movie that runs for under an hour and run for minutes as in Centurion Resurrection which had a duration of just three minutes?

Animation as a general rule, gives a composer the opportunity to stretch their compositional muscle, so to speak, in much more elaborate ways than other styles of films. I thoroughly enjoyed writing music for animated films over the years.  However, ‘Nephilim’ wasn’t an animated film in the traditional sense of the term. Although it is a 3D animated film, it runs and feels like a live action film. And the music was composed accordingly. The production featured an 80-piece orchestra, which was a thrill, and it was the first time I recorded with The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra. Regarding your question about short films in relation to the music. This is a very good question. In all honesty, it doesn’t matter how short a film may be. It will still take the same amount of effort, thought and preparation as a full feature film, simply because one must deal with a new story, new characters, new environments, brand new score, its sound, its thematic structure and so on and so forth. 

Of course, the degree of difficulty may vary, but as I said, the requirements for the initial creation of the music are very much the same as writing music for a full feature film. 

Film music or the process of creating music for film has altered and evolved over the years, how do you work out your musical ideas whilst working on a project, do you sit at the piano and sketch out your themes and ideas and then utilize a more tech way to develop these?

I work exclusively digitally due to time constrains. However, I do sketch digitally ideas as quickly as possible. I then go over the ideas in passes. The best way to describe it, is, let’s say, akin to how a printer works in terms of laying the colours one on top of the other.  I find that this process keeps the writing fresh. 

In 2014 you scored Decline of an Empire (Katherine of Alexandria) which was set in the times of The Roman Empire, and had an impressive cast list including Edward Fox, Peter O Toole and Stephen Berkoff, the score is again magnificent, was this performed by the City of Prague Philharmonic, who you have worked with many times?

I had the opportunity to work on the score for Decline of an Empire and I am very grateful to have been given the chance to score the music for a film which featured so many legendary actors and a great many newcomers. I do appreciate your kind words on the score. Regarding the recording, on this occasion, the score was created entirely digitally.

The composer with Nic Raine.

I know that Nic Raine has conducted a few your scores, he is a wonderful conductor and an accomplished composer, do you conduct at all or is it better for you to supervise the session on a movie from the recording booth?

Indeed, I have been privileged to work with such a great conductor & orchestrator!  It was also a thrill to work with James Fitzpatrick who has worked with some of my most favourite composers of all time and was wonderful for him to supervise the recording sessions in Prague. Regarding conducting, indeed, I do prefer to listen to the score and produce it on the recording sessions. 

The Peoples Orchestra.

You also work with the Peoples Orchestra in the UK, can you tell us something about the orchestra and how you became involved with them?


The People’s Orchestra is based in the Midlands in the UK, and it is a wonderful organization which through music, helps a lot of people. It really is like a big family, and always great to work with this fabulous orchestra.  I have had a great working relationship with ‘The People’s Orchestra’ here in the UK over the course of many years. They were kind enough to record several orchestral pieces of mine.  A few years ago, I contacted the orchestra’s MD , Sarah Marshall, who was kind enough to take my music on board for live performances and recordings. 

We have been working since then on several projects and we are hopefully to carry on creating new music for the foreseeable future. We are currently working on a piece to celebrate The Commonwealth, titled ‘We Are One’ which features and orchestra & choir and very much look forward to finalising its mixing process. 

We Are Angels was a TV series you scored in 2014, I think you worked on 14 episodes, when scoring an episodic series, is the schedule tighter than on a movie, and do you recycle any of the themes from early episodes into the scores of later ones?

Indeed, the music for TV work requires a much tighter schedule, however, ‘We Are Angels’ didn’t adhere to traditional time constrains as the production followed a longer time schedule. Music wise, the episodes were different to each other, however, some themes were repeated as some of the characters to which I wrote music for, made a comeback to some of the episodes. 

We are Angels.

After you have spotted a movie and decided what style of score you will write and where music is to be placed how long do you normally have to compose and record the music, maybe you could use Hostile Territory as an example?

The period of composing and recording depends greatly on each production in terms of its budget and quality requirements.  It can take from 6 to 8 and sometimes 12 weeks to complete a score. This greatly depends on the complexity of the production of the score, its duration, budget, orchestral requirements etc. and, as re-edits can sometimes take place, re-scoring will be required to fit the new edits. 

For Hostile Territory, I believe the work was circa 6 weeks for the composition, and we then recorded the orchestral parts with members of The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra. If I remember correctly, the recordings took place within a few days. 

What is next for you?

We are about to complete all work for a new piece titled ‘We Are One’ with ‘The People’s Orchestra’ & Choir, also I am completing the score for a wonderful short film titled ‘Beyond the Lake’ by director Simon Constantine.

In addition, I have been attached to score the music for the great Action/Comedy film ‘Accident Man 2’ directed by Harry & George Kirby with whom I have worked on several of their brilliant projects over the years. The film features an incredible cast of martial artists, starring Scott Adkins. 

I am also looking forward to the release of the dark Sci-Fi film ‘DEUS’ by writer/director Steve Stone which I scored last year. 

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for having me here!



Who said that the western movie was dead? Well, I must disagree especially when films such as Hostile Territory are around. Set during the time of and the aftermath of the American Civil war it is a movie based on true events, with former P.O.W. Jack Calgrove moving Heaven and Earth to be reunited with his children following the Civil War. After returning home, Jack finds out his wife has died and his children, presumed orphans, are heading deep into the West aboard a train crossing old enemy lines. Calgrove and another former soldier are joined by a troop of Native American sharpshooters and a freed slave, as they race to intercept the orphan train before all hope is lost. Directed by Brian Presley, it is an action movie with heart and one that you should try and catch if possible.

The musical score is in one word superb. It is the work of composer John Koutselinis, who has fashioned beautiful, and affecting themes alongside thundering action cues to support and underline the various sequences and scenarios that are unfolding on screen. I am pleased to say the score is available on digital platforms via Movie Score Media, and it is a soundtrack that you as a self-respecting film music fan must add to your digital collection straight away.

main theme.

The music is a fusion of symphonic and synthetic, but I have to say is one of the most emotive and wonderfully rich and affecting scores I have heard thus far this year, it has to it a slight Gaelic lilt in several the cues and also includes an enchanting and ethereal sounding solo voice performance which is haunting and effective. The lush and at times lavish textures and colours of the score are overwhelming emotionally, the composer utilising delicate woods, and sweeping strings to convey a feeling of melancholy and expansiveness, but also employing driving string performances that are underlined by booming percussive elements to establish a fearsome and relentless musical persona. It is a work of quality and at times contains a spiritual and hopeful sound. His music evoking the style of Horner, Holdridge, Poledouris, and Goldsmith, with epic and grand orchestral flourishes weaving their way in and out of the proceedings. The score will be available on the likes of Amazon, Apple, and Spotify on April 22nd, please I urge you check this one out, it is an essential listen.

Movie score media spotlight reviews.

Just as I finished soundtrack supplement Movie Score media continued to surge forwards and onwards and upwards with even more great soundtrack releases, so rather than wait till the next Soundtrack Supplement, I thought that I would review the releases in this special MSM review article. In my opinion Movie Score Media is one of the very few labels that gives soundtrack collectors what they want, as in great film music but maybe it’s not from the normal well-known composers, or usual suspects as it were, thus this industrious and groundbreaking label are always alerting collectors to composers new. Plus, every now and then they uncover and issue a score that has not been released before by an established or known composer.

Amongst the latest batch of soundtrack superb-ness is Space Truckers a movie that was released back in 1995 with a brilliant score by composer Colin Towns.  Directed by Stuart Gordon (Robot Jox, Fortress, The Pit and The Pendulum, Re- Animator, From Beyond and Dolls) who sadly passed away in 2020 and to whose memory this world premiere release is dedicated. Following his success with Fortress the filmmaker was given a larger budget to work with on Space Truckers, which allowed him to create a compelling and larger than life road movie that just happened to be set in space. The movie features actor Dennis Hopper in the role of a space trucker John Canyon who along with his new bride Cindy portrayed by Debi Mazar and apprentice space trucker Mike (Stephen Dorf) set out on a trip carrying believe it or not a shipment of sex dolls. Their trip is watched with interest by space Pirate Captain Macanundo played by Charles Dance who plans to relieve the trio of their unusual cargo. The score which in my very humble opinion is far better than the movie by Colin Towns is a riveting and entertaining listen, the composer combining electronic elements into a score that is largely symphonic and sounds quite grand in places. Movie Score Media should be congratulated for resurrecting this score and bringing it to collectors, it is now available digitally, but a CD and vinyl release is scheduled soon on Quartet and Svart records respectively. 1995 and 1996 were remarkably busy and productive years for the composer because in the space of less than eighteen months he worked on a plethora of projects for TV that included The Buccaneers, The World of Peter Rabbit and friends, The Crow Road, The Wind in the Willows, Bodyguards, The Willows in Winter and for the big screen on Space Truckers.

Towns is one of the UK,s busiest and in demand composers even today, and has penned the soundtracks to many popular contemporary TV shows, including Doc Martin for the ITV network. Space Truckers is I think an essential purchase and will be a score that you will certainly return to after your initial listen. It is a score that is filled with numerous   action laced cues but it is a case of the thematic not being sacrificed for action here with the composer relying heavily upon the string and brass sections of the orchestra to achieve a vibrantly grand and pulsating sound for the movie. Throughout the score there are several themes or fragments of thematic material that sweep in and out of the proceedings making it not only entertaining but memorable as well, with anthem like pieces complemented by a rich and slightly romantic adventurous style. Towns even including a kind of Ho Down square dance theme which has a Copland-esque musical persona in the track Evacuate the Area. The composer also at times drifting into a comedic and lighter mood with cues such as Do You Mind, which is verging upon easy listening/country sound with a tinge of Opera, but also at the same time having to it a mysterious and dreamlike edge. This is a release that I know is welcomed by many already converted devotees of the composer and is also a release that is long overdue. Highly recommended.

The Syfy TV series Van Helsing has been received with mixed reaction from audiences and critics alike. The series which debuted in 2016 has it seems according to who you are either improved or become steadily sillier. But hang on it is a fantasy/Horror series we are talking about here, so maybe the way forward is not to take it too seriously and seeing as we are now in the fifth and final season of the show you would think that viewers would have kind of worked this out. The fantasy horror series stars Kelly Overton as Vanessa Helsing, a distant relative of famous vampire hunter Abraham Van Helsing, who is resurrected only to discover that vampires have taken over the world. With the unique ability of turning vampires into humans, Vanessa must fight through an apocalyptic wasteland to fight the Elders, the group of vampires that are now in charge. At last, the dramatic and atmospheric music by composer Rich Walters has been released on a soundtrack album which is representative of the composers work on the series.

It is largely a synthetic realized work, with dark and racing cues that add layers and textures to the action that is unfolding on screen. The score is tense and at times foreboding and apprehensive. It also has to it passages both musical and atonal that are affecting and highly effective within the series, horror is a genre that literally cries out for musical support and in this case I feel the composer has answered those cries providing the series with a score that fully supports yet also has a life of its own, the cue I am Sam for example starts out with a dark and thickly atmospheric drone like sound, but this alters as it gathers some pace and the composer also adds elements to it, finally transforming into a cue that resembles a piece that accompanies a showdown situation. Although an electronic score, it still has to it thematic qualities, the composer developing certain themes and utilizing them effectively. Fighting the Elder is a taught and menacing cue, with sharp and ominous stabs accompanied by an up-tempo percussive background. Certainly, the music from Van Helsing is worth a listen, it is a fusion of inventive styles that evoke both Vangelis and the Carpenter/Howarth partnership. Available on digital platforms.  

Another score to look out for is Cloudmaker, which is scored by Dutch composer Matthijs Kieboom, and follows his successful scores to the re-boot of the TV series Van Der Valk, plus Pirates down the Street, Bloody Marie and the brilliant score for the documentary Wild, which if you have not yet heard is highly recommended and also available on MSM. Cloudmaker, is an animated short and has two cues available on digital platforms, both being enchanting and haunting, the score will be represented on the upcoming Movie Score Media compilation Short Cuts 2020 which is due for release at the end of May 2021.

Back to full scores that are now available on digital platforms and we go to Sasquatch, which is a documentary that follows investigative journalist David Holthouse as he attempts to solve a bizarre triple homicide which took place twenty-five years ago and was said to be the work of a mythical creature.

The film has music by the talented and chameleon like American composer H.Scott Salinas, (Rust Creek, Cartel Land, The Ivory Game, A Private War, The Banker, Warrior). His music for Sasquatch is interesting as in the composer integrates a varied handful of styles into the score, using acoustic instruments as well as numerous electronic elements Salinas creates an atmospheric and wonderfully supportive work, which enhances and adds greater depth to the story as it unfolds in front of us. Salinas manages to create affecting cues for the documentary, raising the tension but without the watching audience realizing that there is an actual musical score, his music underlines and punctuates the discoveries of the journalist and enhances the scenario without overwhelming it. It is a masterful soundtrack and a worthy addition to the MSM catalogue.

And that is not all, there are so many more interesting and great titles to come, watch the MSM website for upcoming releases there are so many and all quality items.