This week’s Zooppa member of the week comes to us, not from a filmmaker, but from a composer! After listening to Sam’s winning composition, I found myself craving some Bertie Bott’s Jelly Beans! The composition really makes you feel like you are walking through the banquet hall of Hogwarts! The winner of the Harry Potter™ For Kinect™ Original Musical Score Contest let us pick his brain and answered a few of our questions. Be sure to check out his website listed below to listen and see his other work!
Tell us a little bit about yourself:
I’m a freelance composer/3D artist/game designer from Fort Worth, TX. I’ve been a film and game music enthusiast since I was a little kid. My life-long ambition was actually to be a filmmaker and also be involved in game production. But that stuff required expensive equipment and we didn’t have a lot of money when I was growing up, so instead I spent a lot of my time sitting in my room drawing game characters and levels on paper, and plucking away notes on a cheap keyboard. I never had any piano lessons, or any kind of instruction or education about music. Over time I learned how to play and compose my own songs, still without knowing how to read or write sheet music. As I grew up I continued to develop my skills and started teaching myself 3D animation and began making little independent computer games which I posted online.
People began to check out my work and that led to a few gigs doing either art or music for various little projects. I scored an independently produced fantasy series called Golden Age a few years ago, and more recently I had started experimenting with remixing game music I liked, and that led to being invited to compose for an album called Harmony Of A Hunter, which was a tribute to the music of the Metroid game series by Nintendo. And now I’ve done the trailer music for Harry Potter Kinect. I’m not really sure if I could classify myself as a “pro” composer considering the fact that I produce music in my bedroom with only a computer and an old keyboard, and I only compose part of the time in between working on animation or games or my martial arts practice. However, that is mainly due to lack of opportunities. And if given the chance, I would be happy to compose music professionally for movies or games.
Where’d your Harry Potter love begin?
Well I’ve always been a huge nerd with a lot of interest in fantasy and science fiction stuff.
At the time Harry Potter had begun to rise in popularity, I was really into the forthcoming release of the LOTR films, so I never watched any of the HP films or read any of the books. But after Prisoner Of Azkaban came out, I watched all three movies back-to-back and have been a big fan ever since. In addition to that, I also loved the music and themes by John Williams, which was of course excellent in those films. I found out about the Harry Potter Kinect contest via email, and jumped at the opportunity since it was totally right up my alley.
Tell us about your process:
When it comes to composing, I always think in terms of thematic expression. I am not really into classical music, in fact I actually don’t listen to music much at all, but I love film scores. For me, music is a great storytelling device. I like to make songs that convey and inspire imagery and feelings. For this, since I couldn’t use any of the original Harry Potter themes, and I also didn’t want to just make a rip-off version, I basically composed it my own way like with any of my original work. But I did add a bit of flair and spirit of the Williams’ scores, so it would feel like it was a part of the same universe. I tend to think more like a filmmaker than a composer, and I scored the piece to my own imaginary trailer, and tried to strike balance between smooth flowing music and a functional score that worked with footage. It was not only a creative challenge but a technical one because it is very difficult to get a bunch of virtual digital instruments to work together and sound like a real film orchestra.