Today happens to be the 90th birthday of the most influential composer of our time, the great John Williams.
His music has transported us to the depths of space, the mysterious orient, deep dark jungles that hold secret treasures, and into our hidden emotions when he has scored the human experience. Having won the Oscar five times, he holds the record for any composer with 52 nominations, 17 of which were for a few of the 29 movies he has scored for Steven Spielberg. And what other 90 year old do you know who can sell out concert halls and venues with 30,000 seats? To say the least, I am a fan.
On this occasion, I wanted to draw my own interpretation of the maestro, who we all know wields a lightsaber baton. The Force is strong in this one.
One exciting thing that helps the Green Eggs & Ham show leap from the screen is the magnificent music of composer David Newman, a veteran composer of many movie scores over the years (Galaxy Quest, The Sandlot, Hoffa, Ice Age, etc.). I had the pleasure of watching him work his magic with an orchestra in the recording studio one day, and afterwards felt the urge to Seussify him.
Later in the year, I snapped this second image of David onstage at The Hollywood Bowl where he conducted a concert of John Williams’ music. Film music royalty.
Two of the summer’s hottest films are Pixar’s The Incredibles 2 and Universal’s Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. Both serve up thrills, chills, laughs and excitement. They also both serve up amazing soundtracks written by the same composer – Michael Giacchino!
Incredibles 2has a boffo score that jumps and jives with the best energetically melodic groovy jazz, while Jurassic World 2soars with classic intrigue and adventure in the vein of the musical path first blazed by the legendary John Williams, while taking us to new places of big teeth and terror.
So, what if for their next sequels, both movies were combined? What would THAT soundtrack sound like?!
Last week I had the special opportunity to hang out with film score composers Buck Sanders and Marco Beltrami at their studio in Malibu, CA, for a recording session for their latest film National Geographic’s Free Solo (mentioned on IMDB.com). You might know their work from films such as Logan, Ben-Hur, No Escape, The Woman in Black, 3:10 to Yuma, and their Oscar nominated work in 2008’s The Hurt Locker.
As faithful followers of my blog know, I am a film score enthusiast. It is the music of choice to play in the studio while I do my thing with paper, pencils, and stylus. It is always a treat when music makers invite me to have a glimpse of their world. I take my sketchbook with me, and love sitting there hearing the music live, and trying to capture a little bit of it with pencil on paper, hopefully quietly enough that the microphones don’t pick up the scratching. If there is a more enjoyable environment for sketching live, I haven’t found it.
This was my first time spending time in the studio with Buck & Marco. It was a beautiful day surrounded by California mountains on the Pacific coast with a group of amazing string musicians working their magic.
Sketchbooks are where time is spent practicing the craft, so not all the drawings are worthy of display, but here are a few from the day that were successful…
If you like the topic of film music, please feel free to check out my other film music posts by CLICKING HERE, most of which involve more of my art inspired by the art of musicians!
Spider-man Homecoming is the big new movie this coming weekend, and I am especially excited to hear the music written for the film. Past Spider-man movies have set a very high bar for exciting compositions from some of film music’s best composers such as Danny Elfman, Christopher Young, James Horner, and Hans Zimmer. No doubt this latest iteration of the web slinger will meet that bar and possibly exceed it with music slung by Michael Giacchino!
Giacchino is the perfect choice to bring something fresh and exciting to a character that Disney/Marvel hopes to make cinematically fresh and exciting again. This project comes after a year where the composer has set his own personal bar very high with amazing work for films that include Zootopia, Star Trek Beyond, Doctor Strange, Star Wars: Rogue One, and the upcoming War for the Planet of the Apes.
So, in anticipation of some thrilling musical delights, I present to you my latest inked and watercolored piece called “Giacchino-man!”
By the way, those musical notes are from the opening of the original Spider-man TV show theme song from the 1970s. 😉
Today I thought I would use my abilities to indulge my secondary interest in filmmaking, which is film music. I enjoy film music so much that there is a whole category for it here on the ol’ blog.
I saw Disney’s new version of The Jungle Book on its opening weekend three weeks ago and was completely mesmerized. It has to be a pretty tough gig to take a beloved Disney animated feature, and create a new version of it that is live action, er, animated as well. Director Jon Favreau did a fantastic job of making something old new again not only with the story, but with the eye-popping visuals.
Aiding the visuals in a huge way was the music by veteran composer John Debney. The original Jungle Book was charming in large part because of the music that aided the storytellers. John skillfully wrote a beautiful jungle score of his own that immediately captures your attention, and then audibly gives the audience a nostalgic thrill by weaving in some of the well-loved songs from the original movie. It was enchanting.
It struck me that this was the fourth feature film collaboration between director and composer. Jon Favreau and John Debney first worked together on 2003’s Elf (a personal favorite Christmas movie), 2005’s Zathura, Iron Man 2 in 2010, and now The Jungle Book. Each outing has proven that they make beautiful music together.
I was so enamored with their latest collaboration that I felt compelled to get it down on paper. Ironically, I celebrate their digital masterpiece by using the traditional art tools of watercolor, gouache, and colored pencils. May I present to you, The Two Jons/Johns:
I for one can’t wait to see what their next project together will yield, but you can be sure it will be a swingin’ good time!
Last year a great composer and one of the nicest guys, Ken Thorne, passed away. Ken had worked on many film scores such as The Beatles’ Help!, The Monkees Head, Superman II and Superman III (both starring Christopher Reeve), the Alan Arkin starring Inspector Clouseau, and Tom Selleck’s Lassiter to name a few. I had posted my appreciation for Ken upon his passing, and posted a photo of him that I had taken the last time I saw him a couple of years before at a film composer event at the Dark Delicacies store in Burbank, California.
Recently, one of Ken’s daughters contacted me and asked if they could send my photo to the Motion Picture Academy. The Academy has been gathering photos for their “In Memoriam” section of the Oscars telecast taking place this coming Sunday evening, and had asked the Thorne family for a photo for possible inclusion. I was honored that Ken’s family liked my photo enough for such a prestigious purpose, and was very happy to give my blessing.
The Oscars have many things they try to accomplish, and I was told that there is a chance that Ken could be omitted for the sake of time, but let’s hope not. After all, he won an Oscar for his score to A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum in 1967. He is one of the Academy’s own.
Those of you who follow my blog know that I have a great love for the custom music written for film and television. I consider most of it to be modern day classical music, but whether fully orchestral, or with a small band, it is music that tells a story. What better kind of music is there to listen to while you draw pictures that also tell stories?!
A few weeks ago, a friend with BeyondTheMarquee.com asked me if I might like to step away from my cartooning studio where I listen to music, so that I could step into a music studio where the music is created. He wanted me to interview composer Christopher Lennertz who has been busy at work on TWO television shows for the ABC network – Galavant and the Captain America spin-off series Agent Carter. I said, “YES!” (Otherwise, what would be the point of this blog post?) So, in an effort to hunt down information about the music, I adopted a new moniker – The Sound Tracker!
I first met Christopher a few years ago at a gathering in Burbank around the time he scored the mostly animated Easter movie Hop, and continued to bump into him from time to time at various film score events. I welcomed the opportunity to meet at his studio to discuss his busy work on those two shows, but he has also been busy scoring the recent movie The Wedding Ringer, and the CW television series Supernatural. Chris is one busy guy, but has managed to have all of these projects staggered in a manageable time frame.
The interview went live a few days ago at BeyondTheMarquee.com, and since then it has also been picked up on AintItCool.com and Nerdist.com! Hopefully many folks will get to know Christopher Lennertz a bit more and enjoy his work as much as I have.
Many thanks to Chris for allowing us into his studio where we recorded the interview! And without further ado, may I present the interview itself…