16 Sep …it could happen to you…
So one day, Scott Frank walked into Old Town Music in Pasadena – looking for a guitar teacher. He opened a binder and picked my name.
It never crossed my mind that nearly a decade after our first meeting, I would be composing the score to a movie he wrote and directed, starring Liam Neeson as Matt Scudder, one of author Lawrence Block’s finest creations.
You see, my first scoring opportunity actually came in 2008, when I was a teacher at the Pasadena Conservatory. One of my students, Michael Legato, took a liking to some of my compositions and showed them to his dad. It happens that his father is VFX whiz and two time Academy Award winner Rob Legato, and it also happens that Rob was looking for a composer to score a short film he was directing.
After my initial meeting with Rob, both he and his producer, Ron Ames, treated me as if I could pull it off, no problem – while I had NO IDEA if I would. Yet the music I wrote was befitting the Noir genre they were looking for, and all my demos were decent enough to show Rob and Ron for cue approval. It was my first foray into the industry, and thankfully, we were all quite pleased with the results.
Little did I know that experience would play such an important role in scoring “A Walk Among the Tombstones.”
You see, back when we began lessons in 2005, Scott was simply looking to get better at playing guitar. As one of the most respected screenwriters in the film industry, it should come as no surprise to know his mind is quick and deeply curious. I was helping him the best I could in understanding the broader picture of all things musical through his instrument.
As he was gearing up to direct his first film, “The Lookout,” he first gave me a chance to play guitar for another composer who was doing the demo for the film. This was before James Newton Howard came on board to score it. After that, he started suggesting I write some music to scenes he would write – scoring to script. And THAT’S where my experience with Rob Legato came into play. I at least had a handle on how to go about it.
And with Scott I realized at once his taste in music was totally not age appropriate. He liked the bands that my (back then) USC students liked – as a matter of fact, even over the last years it was Scott that turned me on to Alt J, which I then turned some of my (now) UM students onto – I don’t know exactly how, but he definitely has a pulse on what sucks and what doesn’t.
This was the birth of our quite unorthodox relationship, as he would fill me in on things he was working on, and I would do the same. During that time I began my mentorship with Randy Newman, and Scott took great interest in that.
Flash forward to 2012, and I found out he was set to direct Tombstones, with Liam Neeson attached. I emailed him (I’d moved to Miami back in 2010) and let him know there was NO WAY I wouldn’t be involved in the film, even if it was simply writing the temp score. my domain concacts Surprisingly, he sent me the screenplay, and I began writing immediately – sending my first sketches within a few days of reading it.
So began the demos for “A Walk Among the Tombstones” from the script stage. Before a single shot was made. We were both looking for the musical tone of the film. He’d send me links to songs he loved, and I’d write cues to scenes he’d written or even re-written based on the music. It was awesome.
Now that the album is available on I-Tunes I’ll be posting about each cue written in the coming weeks – looking forward to sharing!