×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

ASCAP Film Scoring Workshop Celebrates 30 Years

An international group of young composers gathered for a session on the Newman stage at 20th Century Fox.

The Newman scoring stage at 20th Century-Fox was overflowing with people – and good will – as ASCAP last night celebrated the 30th anniversary of its Film Scoring Workshop with a studio recording session for the 12 lucky young composers chosen to participate.

“This is like a window into the time continuum, where you can look into the future and see those who are going to make a real contribution to film music,” ASCAP president and chairman Paul Williams said. “It’s a cultural gift in one sense, but on another level it’s a really smart business investment.”

The performing-rights society sponsors this four-week event for emerging film and TV composers every summer, with Emmy winner Richard Bellis at the helm. ASCAP arranges meetings with agents, lawyers, studio executives and experienced composers; this year’s field trips included visits to the studios of Junkie XL (“Mad Max Fury Road”), Matthew Margeson (the “Kingsman” movies) and Benjamin Wallfisch (“It”).

The high point is the recording session, where each participant gets 16 minutes on the podium to rehearse and conduct a 64-piece orchestra in their own music. This year they rescored clips from “Cinderella,” “How to Train Your Dragon,” “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” and “A Cure for Wellness.”

Kyle Laporte, one of this year’s participants, called the workshop “a life-changing experience,” adding, “I couldn’t possibly have asked for a more exciting group of people to learn from – hearing their different perspectives, seeing their process, their way of thinking about picture and dialogue, how they see the business.”

Laporte is one of five American composers in the group. Three more are from the U.K., with others hailing from South Africa, Australia, Norway and Finland. Two of the 12 are women. It is free for those chosen.

Bellis, author of “The Emerging Film Composer” who is marking his 21st year as mentor for the group, says that the composers are “much more musically sophisticated” than in decades past, and that his own approach to the material and the participants has changed.

“When Fred Karlin started the workshop, it was more about synchronization [of music with image],” he said. “When I started in the ’90s it was how to value your work. Now we’re into non-musical aspects – your attitude, relationships, preparing for meetings, diagnosing a scene, being able to disagree with a filmmaker without acrimony.”

A number of past workshop participants have gone on to industry success including Stephen Endelman (“Madoff”), Cliff Martinez (“Drive”), Mateo Messina (“Juno”), Atli Orvarsson (“Chicago Fire”), Joseph Trapanese (“Straight Outta Compton”), Lynn Kowal (“Homicide”), Sherri Chung (“Riverdale”), Jim Dooley (“Pushing Daisies”) and Austin Wintory (“Journey” videogame).

Toronto-born Robert Duncan (“Castle,” “S.W.A.T.”) recalled his experiences in the 2001 workshop: “I got off the plane, went to the ASCAP workshop and never looked back. It was a mini-crash course in Hollywood and set my wheels in motion. It revealed the landscape of the industry to a newcomer. The contacts I made there have remained important to my career.”

Emmy winner Trevor Morris (“The Tudors,” “The Borgias”), another Canadian participant (from 1999), called it “a very important and prestigious chance to get inside Hollywood and learn more about how it worked. Getting to conduct on the podium with the finest musicians in Los Angeles was a game-changing moment. I knew right then I would move from Canada to Hollywood. It all started at the ASCAP scoring workshop.”

ASCAP Scoring Workshop-2018
CREDIT: Lester Cohen

Workshop producer Michael Todd reflected on the changes over the years. “When we started this, we were waiting for the tape to rewind,” Todd said with a laugh. “Submissions were on cassettes, and then on CDs.” Nearly 400 composers applied for the 12 available spots this year.

Co-producer Jennifer Harmon noted that the essential structure of the workshop has not changed. Participants spent an entire day with Junkie XL, she said: “That was very instructive, not only in the information he was sharing, but getting a glimpse into his studio life and how he handles himself with filmmakers.”

Both pointed out that the workshop has gained a reputation as a key starting point for talented composers.

ASCAP CEO Elizabeth Matthews, also on hand for last night’s four-hour session, called it “one of my favorite events of the whole year.” She noted: “It’s core to the mission of ASCAP to help educate young creators, songwriters and composers, to help turn their hobby into a sustainable livelihood, an actual profession.”

More Film

  • Emma Thompson

    Emma Thompson Exits Skydance Animation Movie 'Luck' Over John Lasseter Hire

    Emma Thompson has dropped out of the voice cast of Skydance Animation’s upcoming film “Luck,” a spokesperson for the actress told Variety. The beloved British star did some recording for the project, but dropped out in January, following John Lasseter’s hire to the top animation job at David Ellison’s studio, an insider close to the [...]

  • Daniel Kaluuya Lakeith Stanfield

    Daniel Kaluuya, Lakeith Stanfield in Talks to Star in Film About Black Panther Party Leader

    Daniel Kaluuya and Lakeith Stanfield are in negotiations to star in the historical drama “Jesus Was My Homeboy” about Black Panther Party leader Fred Hampton. The project is set up at Warner Bros. with “Black Panther” director Ryan Coogler producing along with Charles King through his Marco production company. Executive producers are Sev Ohanian, Zinzi [...]

  • Watch First Trailer for Motley Crue

    Watch First Trailer for Motley Crue Biopic 'The Dirt'

    Netflix has dropped the first trailer for its Motley Crue biopic “The Dirt” — based on Neil Strauss’ best-selling history of the legendarily bad-behaved ‘80s metal icons — and it looks like the film pulls no punches in terms of the band’s famously sordid history. In this two-minute trailer, we get glimpses of singer Vince [...]

  • ‘Tomorrow and Thereafter,’ ‘Diane Has the

    MyFrenchFilmFestival Prizes ‘Tomorrow and Thereafter,’ ‘Diane Has the Right Shape’

    Actress-director Noémie Lvovsky’s “Tomorrow And Thereafter,” a heartfelt homage to the director’s own mother, and Fabien Gorgeart’s “Diane Has the Right Shape,” about one woman’s surrogate motherhood, both won big at the 2019 UniFrance MyFrenchFilmFestival which skewed female in its winners and viewership, making particularly notable inroads into South East Asia and Latin America. Opening [...]

  • Vue International Chief Slams BAFTA For

    Vue International Chief Slams BAFTA for Awarding Prizes to 'Roma'

    Tim Richards, the founder and chief executive of Vue International, one of the largest cinema chains in Europe, has slammed the British Academy of Film and Television Arts for awarding prizes to Netflix’s “Roma.” Alfonso Cuaron’s black-and-white film, which is also up for several Oscars, won four BAFTAs at the awards ceremony in London on [...]

  • Oscars Ultimate Party Guide

    Oscar's Ultimate Party Guide 2019

    Welcome to Oscar week. It’s the time of year when Hollywood’s film industry celebrates all things movies. But it’s certainly not just the big show everyone is looking forward to. With voting closed, it’s all about the parties now. Who’s doing what and where and when are they doing it are the questions everyone is [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content