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A place to experiment and create

Billion-Dollar Composer: Marco Beltrami

Pianella Studios, Marco Beltrami’s multimillion-dollar recording space north of Malibu, is a little off the beaten path. But, as they say, it’s worth the trip.

Perched on a 20-acre plot high above the Pacific Ocean, it’s a modern-looking two-story, 4,800-sq.-ft. building whose main room can accommodate 35 players (with two isolation booths for as many as five more).

Mixing engineer John Kurlander achieved an especially “live” acoustic in the room with its 28-foot vaulted maple ceilings, bamboo walls and oak floors. A balcony offers room enough for a 12-voice choir.

Beltrami and his co-producer Buck Sanders decided they needed their own studio after their musical breakthrough on “Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada,” where experimentation and processing of sounds was a critical factor.

“It became almost prohibitive (cost-wise) to have to go to a studio, especially on an independent movie,” Beltrami says. “Here, we have designed the space. It’s like a playground. We can do whatever we need to do.”

In addition to the space and time needed for sonic exploration, they can record and mix scores that don’t require large orchestras. Over the past two years, Beltrami’s “Scream 4,” “Soul Surfer,” “The Thing,” “The Woman in Black,” “The Sessions” and “Deadfall” have recorded and/or mixed there; and he has already done pre-records for his upcoming “A Good Day to Die Hard.”

The control room doubles as a dubbing theater, with a large screen and 7.1 surround monitors. Upstairs are a lounge and Beltrami’s writing space.

Under construction on a hill nearby is a guest house where out-of-town guests (maybe a director, producer and their assistants) can stay during the creation of a score.

Pianella is the name of the northern Italian town where Beltrami’s grandfather was born.

Billion-Dollar Composer: Marco Beltrami
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