Billion-Dollar Composer: Christophe Beck
Christophe Beck worked on more than a dozen TV series, and won an Emmy, before he got his big feature-film break with the cheerleading movie “Bring It On” in 2000.
From UPN’s sitcom “Pig Sty” to ABC’s “Spy Game,” nearly all of Beck’s TV career was for short-lived or ill-fated series. But one stands out, and helped propel Beck into the film career he has today: “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.”
Beck scored half of its second, and all of its third and fourth seasons (from 1997 to 2000), winning an Emmy at the end of his first year. “Musique Fantastique” author Randall Larson says: “The music is incredibly rich in emotional layers and aggressive potency. It’s by far some of the best music that has ever graced the smallscreen.”
“TV scoring is a great training ground,” Beck says. “You have to do so much work so quickly. One thing ‘Buffy’ did for me was to really hone my fake-orchestra producing skills.” Budgetary constraints forced him to produce the weekly score on synthesizers, although he added one or more musicians (usually a woodwind player), which “made everything sound more real.”
But, he adds: “No matter how far you get in TV, it’s really like starting from scratch when you go to do films. So after three seasons of ‘Buffy’ and one season of ‘The Practice,’ I quit.”
“Bring It On” and “Big Fat Liar” came along over the next two years and Beck was able to transition to a full-time film career. But all that electronic music for TV made Beck a whiz at a skill that is now deemed crucial for every composer in film: the mock-up, whereby a director can hear a synthesized approximation of every cue and thus not be surprised when they hear it played live, days or weeks later, by an orchestra.
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