Was writing music for film something that you had decided to do from an early age?   

Scoring to picture, whether it be film, tv, or video games is something that starts as a dream. There’s no guarantee that you’ll be given a shot, no direct interview or application to get the job, and certainly no easy path towards getting your name out there. I’ve been composing music since I was 14 in many different styles, but at that time it seemed like a pipe dream to be able to put those ideas to picture and have a filmmaker trust in my compositions. Becoming a composer is all about persistence, resilience, and the ability to take criticism in a constructive fashion. 

Would you say that you come from a family background that is musical?   

My grandfather was a blues studio drummer as well as a performing guitarist and singer in the 70s. He taught me how to play guitar when I was around 12 years old. My family isn’t entirely musical in terms of composing and performing, but we all share a great love for music. 

You have worked on several shorts. Is it a more difficult job working on movies that are sometimes 30 minutes or less in duration as in establishing a musical identity? 

Beginning my composing career with short films certainly taught me how to establish a musical identity early on in a production. Short films are difficult in all aspects because they require a more rapid plot development. It’s hard to tell an entire story in a shorter duration. The only thing I find more difficult about scoring short films versus feature length movies is how once you establish a certain theme or motif, you have to take every chance to use it within the film or else it becomes meaningless as a theme. It’s not a recurring “theme” or “motif” if you only hear it once, and with a short film you only have a handful of opportunities to incorporate music. 

What was your first scoring assignment and is it difficult for young composers to break into film scoring? 

Technically my first scoring assignment was a short film I filmed with my brother and two of our friends in 2014. It was shot on a DSLR, starred our friends who were twins, and featured a piece of music I composed in the style of “007” spy music. Guitars, horns, drums, etc. The film was terrible but it still lives on in my heart. And no…the film will never see the light of day because it is BAD. My first “for hire” scoring assignment was for a Scream fan film, “A Knife in the Dark: Chapter 2”. It was a beautifully made film with great opportunities to incorporate themes and fierce orchestrations surrounding the killer. Still to this day I wish they would make another chapter. That film will always be special to me.

Do you listen to or buy soundtracks by other composers and are there any that have inspired or influenced you in your approach to scoring a film or films? 

The majority of my music listening is soundtracks. I have a long list of composers I admire and listen to on a daily basis. The two scores that inspired me to become a film composer are from Kick Ass (2010) and San Andreas. They continue to inspire me every day. In recent years I’ve been obsessed with the music of Brian Tyler and Marco Beltrami. Brian Tyler’s score from Scream (2022) and Marco Beltrami’s work on the Fear Street trilogy have influenced me immensely. 

My special boy is one of your recent assignments. It is a dark and atmospheric work. How did you become involved in the movie and did the director have specific ideas about the style or the placing of the music? 

James Grim, the director, had reached out to me about potentially scoring the movie. I had seen a lot of the movie’s marketing prior to him reaching out so I was familiar with the project. At first, I was given a scene to score as a demo for the company to hear. James really enjoyed what I had done, and decided to bring me on board. 

The director didn’t have a specific style in mind, but more of a direction. He gathered a few ideas for certain scenes, and I provided my input for the rest. My job as the composer is to bring the director’s vision to life musically to help in bringing the movie to life, as it is my expertise. 

 Was there a temp track on the movie when you began to work on it and do you think that this is a useful or distracting practice? 

There was very little temp music on the movie when I began working on it. The director James Grim and I were communicating often about the score and the direction we wished to pursue. We ended up establishing a sound we both really liked, stuck with it, and people love it. I’ve received numerous compliments about the score, and I’m very thankful for that. 

My Special Boy is available on digital platforms. Are there any plans for the score to be released onto compact disc or LP?

When the fundraising campaign was live we did have CDs available for purchase. There are no plans to release more of the My Special Boy CDs just yet. However, my upcoming scores are more likely to make their way to a physical release. 

Is there here a genre of movie you have not worked on and would like to? 

I am waiting for the day I get to score a Christmas movie. Whether it’s animated, a dramedy, or a horror flick, as long as it’s Christmas themed count me completely in. I’d also love to score a comedy, like a chick-flick or buddy movie. I love those.  

Do you conduct at all or do you prefer to supervise recording sessions from the booth?   

This is an interesting question, because I have yet to record an orchestra. I’ve spent years as a classical trumpet player in a full orchestra, so I do know how to conduct. I practice almost everyday when I listen to orchestral music, and film scores in general. When I write my scores I wind up playing certain instruments in my studio, so I am pretty much conducting, engineering, AND performing all at once. When I eventually am recording my score with an orchestra I will probably want to conduct, but am not opposed to supervising from the booth. 

Do you have a set routine when scoring a movie as in opening theme first through to end titles etc?  What musical education did you receive, and do you play any instruments? 

When scoring a movie, my first step is watching the film in full. This helps me understand the concept, plot, characters, and the type of development that is occurring. As I’m watching or immediately after, I will begin establishing themes and motifs. This process also involves discovering the type of instrumentation that matches the atmosphere of the film and the director’s wishes. The earliest note, chords, and instrumentation choices you make at this stage of the scoring process are pivotal moments as they dictate what the entire score will sound like.

I have a formal classical musical education consisting of concert band, jazz band, symphony orchestra, and pit orchestra. I began studying music first in elementary school, leading me to pursuing it in both middle and high school. I was accepted to a gifted and talented middle school music program after my audition on the euphonium. In 6th grade, I chose to pursue trumpet instead. After 3 successful years of concert band, with a jazz performance in between, I was keen on taking my trumpet playing to the next level. I attended the famous Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Arts and the Performing Arts in Manhattan. During high school I continued my classical training of both music theory and trumpet. The music I performed during my 3 years at LaGuardia taught me so much about the art of composing, and was a really pivotal point in my career.

What method do you use to work out your musical ideas, keyboard, piano?

My musical ideas come from a few different places. Sometimes I’ll discover an idea at the piano, sometimes on the guitar, and sometimes even on a percussive instrument like the cajon where a simple rhythm is all it takes to jog a meaningful idea. 

What is your opinion of contemporary film music compared with say film music of the 1960’s?

I really enjoy all types of film music, old and new. I have enormous respect and admiration for composers like Ennio Morricone, Leonard Bernstein, and Bernard Herman who pioneered the techniques that contemporary film composers use today. These classic scores are very organic, with orchestral instruments as their driving force. It is incredible what one can do with an orchestra. However, I definitely cannot live without the scores of composers like Brian Tyler, Marco Beltrami, and Bear McCreary. These composers are masters at combining orchestral elements with modern synthetic instruments, thus creating a “hybrid” film score. 

What is next for you if you can tell us that is?

I am composing the score for several feature films across the next few months into the middle of 2023. Watchdog, Phantom Fun-World, Late Checkout, and The House Among The Trees are in full force production wise so those are the one’s I’ll be working on. I have a collaboration announcement to share in a few months (or less) with someone I idolize from one of my favorite bands. I also have a few feature films planned to announce in early-mid 2023 that I’ll be scoring. As usual other producing jobs and short film scores will pop up, and those are always fun. I am also working on a solo album of my horror music. The future is looking pretty bright.