×

ASCAP Workshop Spotlights Future Film Composers

Are these the faces of the future of film scoring?

Earlier this month, 12 young composers each got the chance to stand on the 20th Century Fox scoring stage, conducting a 65-piece orchestra playing their own music. It was the culmination of their participation in the ASCAP Film Scoring Workshop, a four-week immersion into the high-pressure, high-profile world of movie music.

As participant John Carey put it: “It was like getting to jump ahead 20 or 30 years in your career for a night, to a mock scenario where you would be scoring a major blockbuster film. Imagine being a quarterback in high school and suddenly getting to be in the NFL for a day; it’s just surreal.

“And after stepping off the podium my first thought was, ‘I have to figure out how to come back here and do this again.’”

Carey was one of four Americans chosen from among 300 applicants for this year’s program. Their fellow students hailed from Italy, Germany, Australia, Israel, Argentina, Wales, and Poland. Carey graduated from the USC scoring program, and has been working as an assistant to composer Brian Tyler, best known for his work with the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the “Fast and Furious” franchise.

“If you can score for orchestra, you can score for electronics or anything else.”
Richard Bellis

Now in its 28th year, the workshop is produced by Mike Todd, ASCAP’s senior director for film and TV, and overseen by Emmy-winning composer Richard Bellis, author of the standard film-music text “The Emerging Film Composer.”

Bellis, now in his 19th year as mentor and coach, explains the concept of the program: “There is a level of sophistication to our profession that belies electronics and gear. There are skill sets, and pinnacle of those is scoring for orchestra. If you can score for orchestra, you can score for electronics or anything else.”

He refers to the commonplace practice, especially in TV, of using synthesizers and samples instead of real musicians, which was the accepted way of scoring films and TV until the mid-’80s. That’s when electronics became fashionable; the technology eventually became so good that some producers couldn’t tell the difference between live musicians and samples.

During the four weeks, students learn about music editing, the specifics of writing for various instruments, the business side involving lawyers and agents, orchestration and conducting, recording and mixing music.

Participants who have gone on to film and TV success include Mateo Messina (“Juno”), Joe Trapanese (“Straight Outta Compton”), Trevor Morris (“The Borgias”), Matthew Margeson (“Kingsman: The Secret Service”), Jim Dooley (“Pushing Daisies”), Rob Duncan (“Castle”) and Brian Byrne (“Albert Nobbs”).

The ASCAP Foundation underwrites the cost of the program. It’s free for all participants. From ASCAP’s point of view, says Todd, “it’s about getting to know a composer early in their career, and hopefully they’ll get to know us and what we can do for them. But it’s also about setting them up with the tools they need to compete in this environment.

“Let’s hope this is the future of film music,” says Todd, “one that can maintain the art and craft of writing for live musicians and not just pushing buttons.”

Popular on Variety

More Music

  • Travis Scott Surprises Fans With Netflix

    Travis Scott Surprises Fans With Netflix Documentary Reveal, Pop-Up in Houston

    Travis Scott just revealed his new Netflix documentary in the most organic way possible: a social media post to his 18.5 million followers on Instagram. The photo consisted of him holding a series of VHS tapes, which turns out to be the trailer for his forthcoming documentary on Netflix titled “Look Mom I Can Fly.” [...]

  • Beverly Hills Realtor Accused of Stealing

    Beverly Hills Realtor Accused of Stealing From Usher, Adam Lambert

    A Beverly Hills real estate agent has been arrested on charges of stealing from the homes of celebrities, including Usher, Adam Lambert and “Real Housewives” star Dorit Kemsley. Jason Emil Yaselli, 32, is accused of encouraging an accomplice, Benjamin Ackerman, to enter homes during open houses in order to steal from them. Ackerman allegedly sold [...]

  • Taylor Swift Debuts 'Lover' Video, Sings

    Taylor Swift Debuts 'Lover' Video, Sings 'Archer' During YouTube Livestream (Watch)

    Taylor Swift went live on YouTube today to talk about the inspiration behind her new album “Lover,” dropping tonight. Those who tuned into the live event on Swift’s YouTube channel were virtual attendees of the “Lover’s Lounge,” which included an acoustic performance of her already released single “The Archer,” a Q&A sesh and a behind-the-scenes [...]

  • Missy-Elliot VMA

    Missy Elliott to Drop New EP, ‘Iconology,’ Tonight

    It’s been nearly 15 years since Missy Elliott dropped her last album, and in that time she’s released a handful of songs, made some guest features, played some lconcerts, appeared alongside Katy Perry at the 2015 Super Bowl and this year she’s been voted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame and on Monday night she’ll [...]

  • John Janick Interscope Geffen

    And the New Interscope Records Publicity Chief Is...

    Variety has confirmed one of the worst kept secrets in the music business: Cara Donatto is joining Interscope Geffen A&M (IGA) as its new head of publicity. She arrives at the Universal Music Group label from Atlantic Records, where she has spent nearly two decades of her career guiding public relations strategy for such artists [...]

  • Jamie-Lynn Sigler'Woke Up This Morning: The

    ‘Sopranos’ Cast Members to Present at VMAs in New Jersey

    The VMAs will reunite “Sopranos” castmates for the big awards show happening Monday night in Newark, New Jersey — right next door to America’s favorite crime family.  Drea De Matteo (who played the mobster girlfriend-turned F.B.I. informant Adriana La Cerva), Jamie-Lynn Sigler (who played Tony Soprano’s precocious daughter Meadow Soprano) and Vincent Pastore (who played [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content