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RYAN AMON 
 
AGE: Unavailable
BIRTHPLACE: Elkhorn, Wisconsin
REPRESENTATION: Gorfaine/Schwartz
BACKGROUND: McNally Smith College of Music, recipient of BMI Pete Carpenter Fellowship, trailer composer
TOP GROSSING FILMS:
1. Elysium--93 (U.S. gross in millions)
 
It was Ryan Amon’s work as a trailer composer that rapidly transformed him from a virtual unknown to the composer of a $100 million-plus Matt Damon sci-fi action movie from an Oscar-nominated filmmaker. Neill Blomkamp, whose feature debut District 9 was a box-office smash and a surprise Best Picture nominee, was inspired to hire Amon when he heard one of the composer’s trailer pieces on a fan-posted YouTube video, and signed him to score his sophomore feature, Elysium. The pair worked closely on the score, with Amon giving the film what he called “a melding of organic synthesis and orchestral instrumentation.” While grossing a respectable $93 million in the United States (and a much more impressive $193 million in other countries), the film was considered a disappointment, especially compared to the lauded District 9, and while at one point Amon was announced to score Blomkamp’s third feature, Chappie, that troubled film ended up with a Hans Zimmer score and was released last year to weak box-office and worse reviews. Though he has not yet scored another feature, he was one of several composers whose music was featured in Michael Mann’s 2015 cyberthriller Blackhat, and last year he scored the videogame Bloodborne
 
 
AGE: 47
BIRTHPLACE: Jumilla, Spain
REP: Unavailable
BACKGROUND: Conservatorio Superior de Musica de Murcia, Madrid Royal Conservatory of Music, officer musician in Spanish army, saxophone player, concert composer
RELATIONSHIPS: Fede Alvarez
FAN FAVORITE: The Machinist
TYPECAST IN: Horror, thrillers
TOP GROSSING FILMS:
1. Evil Dead--54
2. Risen--36  
3. In the Heart of the Sea--25  
4. Sexy Beast-- 6 
5. Cantinflas--6 
6. Oldboy--2
7. The Machinist--1 
 
The Spanish composer’s first scoring credit to reach a wide English-speaking audience was Jonathan Glazer’s 2001 thriller Sexy Beast, which earned Ben Kingsley a well-deserved Oscar nomination for his chilling, far-from-Gandhi performance as a sociopathic thug, but Banos was able to make a much stronger musical impression with a much less widely-seen film, Brad Anderson’s stylish but unsatisfying 2004 psychodrama The Machinist, best remembered now for the truly unsettling weight loss star Christian Bale endured to prepare for the role. Banos’ Machinist score was a deft Bernard Herrmann homage which made film music fans eager to hear more of his work. Those fans had to largely settle for import CDs of Banos’ European scores, as he didn’t begin to make his mark again on this side of the world until the new decade. The Spanish ghost story Intruders, starring Clive Owen, received a brief U.S. release in 2012, but it was the following year that the composer had his first true U.S. hit with the relatively restrained remake of The Evil Dead. More U.S. projects followed, including a rescore of Spike Lee’s fascinating remake of Oldboy (replacing a score by Bruce Hornsby), but it’s only in the last year that’s become nearly ubiquitous. Following the showbiz biopic Cantinflas, Mexico’s submission for the 2014 Foreign Language Oscar, Banos has scored (in fairly rapid succession) Ron Howard’s lavish “true Moby Dick” epic In the Heart of the Sea, Alejandro Amenabar’s psychological drama Regression, and Kevin Reynolds' Biblical drama Risen. Just released is a twist on the blind-person-in-jeopardy formula, the thriller Don’t Breathe from Evil Dead director Fede Alvarez.

WHAT'S NEXT: Don't Breathe
WILL BATES
 
AGE: Unavailable
BIRTHPLACE: London, England
REP: Fortress Talent Management
BACKGROUND: Son of Hammer actor Ralph Bates, multi-instrumentalist, founder of music production company Fall on Your Sword
RELATIONSHIPS: Mike Cahill, Alex Gibney
TYPECAST IN: Documentaries
TOP GROSSING FILMS:
1. Another Earth--1 
 
Beginning with 2011’s science-fiction drama Another Earth, a strange credit began popping up on indie films and documentaries -- “Music by Fall on Your Sword.” Fall on Your Sword is a music production company which also has performed as a band, founded by Will Bates (whose late father, Ralph Bates, may be familiar to horror fans for his roles in Hammer films like The Horror of Frankenstein and Taste the Blood of Dracula), and they soon became a familiar name in film credits, though their focus on indie films like the Greta Gerwig vehicle Lola Versus and the Same-Time-Next-Year-with-nudity 28 Hotel Rooms meant that virtually none of their films even reached $1 million at the U.S. box-office. Over the last few years, Bates has begun using his own name on scoring credits, and his most high-profile project has been Alex Gibney’s documentary Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief, which received a brief theatrical run before its HBO premiere and went on to earn three Emmys. Along with his feature work, he’s been scoring extensively in episodic television, including The Magicians and The Path. Zero Days, his latest feature documentary for Gibney, was recently released in theaters.

DANNY BENSI/SANDER JURRIAANS
 
AGE: Unavailable
BIRTHPLACE: Unavailable
REP: WME
BACKGROUND: Cellist (Bensi) and guitarist (Jurriaans) for band Priestbird, scoring for shorts and independent films
RELATIONSHIPS: Sebastian Silva
FAN FAVORITE: The Gift
TOP GROSSING FILMS:
1. The Gift-- 43  
2. Martha Marcy May Marlene--2 
3. Enemy--1 
 
The composing team of Bensi and Jurriaans first made their mark in the scoring world with their unsettling music for the stylish indie thriller Marcy Martha May Marlene, which also proved a breakthrough project for star Elizabeth Olsen. In just a few years, they’ve managed to show an impressive range of styles in their scores, from the more traditionally romantic sounds of 5 to 7 to the orchestral gloom of Enemy to the edgy rhythms of The One I Love. While working mostly in the indie world, they had a genuine box-office hit last year with actor-turned-director Joel Edgerton’s surprisingly effective throwback to the psychological thrillers of the '80s and '90s, The Gift. The success of The Gift has yet to turn them into mainstream composers – so far this year the team has brought us the evocative indie drama The Fits, the intriguing character study The Benefactor, and Rodrigo Garcia’s thoughtful religious drama Last Days in the Desert. They have also scored documentaries like last year’s acclaimed The Wolfpack, and their slate of upcoming features is already quite full, including several thrillers and the acclaimed biographical drama Christine, starring Rebecca Hall as Christine Chubbock, the reporter who committed suicide on live television.
 
WHAT’S NEXT:  The Autopsy of Jane Doe, The Blunderer, Christine, Complete Unknown, Frank & Lola, Rosy, Wildlike
 
AGE: 45
BIRTHPLACE: Unavailable
REP: Unavailable
BACKGROUND: Keyboard player for heavy metal band Proug, music producer, sound designer
RELATIONSHIPS: Darren Lyn Bousman, James Wan
FAN FAVORITE: Insidious
TYPECAST IN: Horror 
TOP GROSSING FILMS:
1. The Conjuring--137
2. The Conjuring 2--102 (as of 8/21/16)
3. Annabelle--84  
4. Insidious Chapter 2--83 
5. Insidious--54
6. Insidious Chapter 3--52   
7. Dark Skies--17
8. The Other Side of the Door--2   
9. The Vatican Tapes--1
 
Bishara had received scoring credits on such little-seen films as The Gravedancers (2006), Unearthed (2007) and Autopsy (2009), as well as serving as music producer and scoring mixer on the offbeat horror musical Repo: The Genetic Opera, when he made his first big splash with his unnerving music for the low-budget horror hit Insidious, in which he also made an indelible onscreen appearance as the unforgettably credited “Lipstick-Face Demon.” Insidious proved to be a sleeper hit, and Bishara was instantly typecast in horror, following that success with two equally successful sequels as well as the blockbuster horror hit The Conjuring for the same director, Saw’s James Wan. With the composer’s emphasis on tension and sonic texture over melody in his most popular works, the big question about Bishara’s future is whether he will move away from horror and suspense -- and whether he even wants to -- especially since his biggest hit, The Conjuring, relies on a “Family Theme” composed by Mark Isham for its more conventional musical moments. With another hit Conjuring film in theaters now, the composer also appearing onscreen as a demonic nun (now there’s a film composer first), and rumors of yet another spinoff film, a la the Bishara-scored Annabelle, Bishara is proving remarkable successful in his niche, but it will be interesting see if he feels comfortable venturing into less shriek-y genres.

LUDOVIC BOURCE
 
AGE: 45
BIRTHPLACE: Pontivy, France
REP: Gorfaine/Schwartz
BACKGROUND: Composer for commercials and shorts, music producer
1 OSCAR
BEST PICTURE NOMINEES: The Artist
RELATIONSHIPS: Michel Hazanavicius
FAN FAVORITE: The Artist
TYPECAST IN: Comedy
TOP GROSSING FILMS:
1. The Artist--44
 
The Artist, Michel Hazanavicius’ 2011 homage to the age of silent films, was the kind of film that is unusually dependent on its score, and Bource was the natural choice for the assignment, having been the director’s collaborator since their mutual debut film, the 1999 caper comedy Mes Amis. Their next two features together, the OSS:117 comedies starring Jean Dujardin, established Hazanavicius as a deft parodist, with Bource an important contributor in evoking the musical styles of '60s cinema. But the OSS scores were child’s play compared to the challenge of writing a through-composed score for a mock-silent movie. The end result was the no-brainer winner of the 2011 Oscar for original score (the film ultimately won five Oscars including Picture, Actor and Screenplay), and while Bource’s music was justifiably acknowledged as an integral part of the film’s success (despite the director’s distracting and controversial use of a classic Herrmann Vertigo cue during a pivotal sequence), the composer has been been heard from little since – possibly because the industry, with its typical lack of imagination, only sees him as a silent film composer. Hazanavicius’s only film since The Artist was 2014’s drama The Search, which did without a score and received poor reviews at festival screenings (and has yet to see a U.S. release), and Bource’s only scores since winning the Oscar have been for the 2012 French action comedy The Other Side of the Tracks and the 2013 cable movie Clear History starring Larry David and Jon Hamm. Despite his award-winning work, Bource has not yet given been given the chance to show his range the way his Oscar-winning countryman Alexandre Desplat has, but one hopes that he’ll be heard from again and soon.

NICHOLAS BRITELL

AGE:
unavailable
BIRTHPLACE: unavailable
REP: Fortress Talent Management
BACKGROUND: Child pianist, piano performance graduate from Julliard School’s Pre-College division, Harvard University (Psychology degree), Wall Street trader, keyboardist for hip-hop ensemble The Witness Protection Program, composer for documentaries and shorts, co-producer of Whiplash
BEST PICTURE NOMINEES: The Big Short
TOP GROSSING FILMS:
1. The Big Short--70
2. Free State of Jones--20  

A Psychology degree from Harvard and experience as a Wall Street trader are rare things to find on a musician’s resume, but that kind of experience can hardly hurt in giving a film composer the breadth of knowledge needed to handle the musical and dramatic choices they will face. Britell had a handful of credits on shorts and indie films (Gimme the Loot) before he gained notice by composing and arranging period music to supplement Hans Zimmer’s sparse score for 2013’s Best Picture winner 12 Years a Slave. That project -- and Britell’s own Wall Street experience -- led to his first major solo assignment, 2015’s critically acclaimed economic comedy-drama The Big Short, where Britell’s score had the challenging task of reinforcing the film’s unusual mixture of documentary, comedy and outrage. Britell already has another A-list project in theaters, replacing originally announced Howard Shore on director Gary Ross’s fact-based Civil War drama Free State of Jones, and supplied a low-key score for Ross’s historically fascinating but dramatically flat film (the film also features tracked-in cues from The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford and Out of the Furnace, making one wonder if it was Ross’s cavalier attitude about film music -- he previously had some of Randy Newman’s Seabiscuit rescored by William Ross – that inspired Shore’s departure). His latest film is Natalie Portman's directorial debut, A Tale of Love and Darkness, and upcoming is the drama Moonlight.

WHAT’S NEXT: Moonlight
 
AGE: 40
BIRTHPLACE: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
REP: WME
BACKGROUND: Berklee College of Music, UCLA, composer for Brazilian films
RELATIONSHIPS: Jose Padilha
TYPECAST IN: Action-thrillers
TOP GROSSING FILMS:
1. RoboCop -58
 
When Columbia released a lavish, star-laden remake of RoboCop in 2014, film music fans might have been a little surprised to see an unfamiliar composer name in the same credit block with stars like Michael Keaton and Samuel L. Jackson -- Pedro Bromfman. Bromfman’s first major hit was the 2007 Mexican cop thriller Elite Squad, which was so successful that its Bromfman-scored sequel, Elite Squad: The Enemy Within, was that country’s submission for the 2011 Foreign Language Oscar. The success of the Elite Squad films led to their director, Jose Padilha (also acclaimed for the 2002 documentary Bus 174) receiving the challenging assignment of reinventing a classic 80s science-fiction action movie for a new century. Padilha brought along Bromfman, reinforcing the importance of director partnerships for today’s composers, and while Bromfman made occasional use of Basil Poledouris’ beloved original RoboCop theme (similar to the way Stu Philips original Battlestar Galactica theme was used on the revival series), overall his score took a harder-edged, non-nsymphonic approach. While the remake proved to be a box-office disappointment, especially given its A-list budget, the team already has a new hit on their hands with the Netflix series Narcos, with Bromfman providing the scores and Padilha serving as executive producer and occasional director (including the pilot).
 
AGE:  40
BIRTHPLACE: London, England
REP: Kraft-Engel
BACKGROUND: Choirboy on Last Temptation of Christ score, Cambridge University, composer for British TV and commercials
TYPECAST IN: Action/thrillers
TOP GROSSING FILMS:
1. Jason Bourne--140 (8/21/16) 
2. The Town--92
3. The Forbidden Kingdom---52
4. The Nice Guys--36  
5. From Paris with Love--24
6. Parker--17
7. Gone--11
8. The Brothers Grimsby--6
 
David Buckley had an unusual entrée into the world of film music -- not yet even in his teens, he performed vocals on Peter Gabriel’s score to The Last Temptation of Christ. After studies at Cambridge University, he moved onto TV and commercials scoring and from there to his first major feature project -- The Forbidden Kingdom, the fantasy adventure that teamed action-movie legends Jackie Chan and Jet Li.  He has kept active in both television and features over the last decade, with his greatest success coming with TV’s long running The Good Wife. While he has written several solo scores, including the underrated heist thriller Parker, with Jason Statham as Richard Stark’s anti-hero, many of his biggest hits have been co-scoring credits with more established composers. His highest-grossing film had been Ben Affleck’s romantic thriller The Town, a shared credit with Harry Gregson-Williams (Buckley also provided additional music for such Gregson-Williams scores as The Number 23 and Gone Baby Gone), but he has an even bigger hit in theaters right now with Jason Bourne, co-scored with John Powell, who scored all the previous Damon-as-Bourne films. Earlier this year, he had the Sacha Baron Cohen action comedy The Brothers Grimbsy, scored with the star’s brother Etan, and still in theaters is Shane Black’s terrific comedy-noir The Nice Guys, a shared credit with John Ottman. His next solo feature is The Boy Downstairs, and he recently reunited with The Good Wife’s creators for their political/sci-fi satire series Brain Dead.

AGE: 35/36
BIRTHPLACE: Northern California/Mississauga, Canada
REP: Unavailable
BACKGROUND: Butler: Northwestern University (Poetry and Slavic studies), composer/multi-instrumentalist (bass, guitar, percussion, synthesizer) for Arcade Fire; Pallett: Child violinist/composer, video game composer, concert composer, solo performer (as Final Fantasy) 
1 OSCAR NOMINATION
1 GRAMMY, 9 NOMINATIONS
(Arcade Fire)
BEST PICTURE NOMINEES: Her
TOP GROSSING FILMS:
1. Her -25

The nomination of Her for the Original Score Oscar in 2013 was one of that awards season’s biggest surprises. Not that the critically acclaimed score wasn’t worthy -- it’s just that with nominations regularly going to the most familiar names in film scoring (Williams, Zimmer, Newman, Desplat), it’s unusual both that a nomination would go to newcomers and that it would be newcomers credited onscreen not as individual composers but as a band -- Arcade Fire. The group already had one score to their credit -- Richard Kelly’s ambitious, little seen The Box, a ‘70s set sci-fi drama adapted from Richard Matheson’s story “Button, Button,” but despite the presence of Cameron Diaz in the lead role, the film received only a minimal release, and the group’s ambitious, dominant score did not receive a soundtrack release. For The Box the score was credited to individual Arcade Fire members Win Butler, Regine Chassagne and Owen Pallett, while for Her, the scoring credit actually read “Music by Arcade Fire.” The nomination went to William Butler and Owen Pallett -- Butler, the brother of founder and frontman Win Butler, had joined the band only after other members had dropped out (one member quit the band onstage during a concert), while Pallett has recorded and performed both under his own name and as Final Fantasy, as well as touring with Arcade Fire. Their subtle yet emotional score was the kind of work that tends to earn critical plaudits while being ignored by the more traditionally-minded Academy music branch, so its nomination is arguably one of the all-time surprises in that category, especially since (presumably so as not to compete with Arcade Fire’s latest album) the score was never commercially released, not even as a download (though Academy members were sent a for-your-consideration disc of the music). Pallett made a welcome return to scoring last year with effective period jazz for the little seen James Dean biopic Life, with Dane DeHaan (as Dean) and Robert Pattison; it would be a shame if their scoring careers ended with such an early peak.


BRIAN BYRNE

AGE: Unavailable
BIRTHPLACE: Ireland
REP: WME
BACKGROUND: Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, arranger
TYPECAST IN: Drama
TOP GROSSING FILMS:
1. Alfred Nobbs--3
 
The Ireland-born Byrne had had a variety of jobs in the film music world -- music preparation on Elliot Goldenthal’s The Good Thief, conducting for Friday & Seezer’s In America, piano soloist for David Newman’s The Spirit – before he had his first high-profile scoring assignment, with 2009’s gender-disguise drama Albert Nobbs. The story had long been a pet project of its star, Glenn Close -- she had starred in the stage version in 1982, the same year she made her Oscar-nominated screen debut in The World According to Garp -- and she would go on to co-write and produce the film version, even writing the lyrics to the end title song “Lay Your Head Down,” performed in the film by Sinead O’Connor. Byrne, who had only a few little-seen feature scoring credits at that point, provided the music for Close’s song as well as the film’s appealingly warm orchestral score. Despite earning three Oscar nominations, Albert Nobbs did only modest business at the box-office, and other theatrically released Byrne projects such as The Good Doctor (starring Orlando Bloom), Jenny’s Wedding (Katherine Heigl) and Boychoir (Dustin Hoffman) were even less widely seen, but his low profile may improve with his next major project, director Jim Sheridan’s The Secret Scripture, starring Rooney Mara.
 
WHAT’S NEXT: Confessions of a Teenage Jesus Jerk, The Laureate, The Secret Scripture

PATRICK CASSIDY

AGE: 60
BIRTHPLACE: Ireland
REP: Unavailable
BACKGROUND: University of Limerick (Masters in Applied Mathematics), concert composer
TOP GROSSING FILMS:
1. Calvary--3

Patrick Cassidy scored his first feature film, the Irish period drama, Broken Harvest, more than 20 years ago, but has only scored a handful of films in that time, while film music fans probably know him best for his contributions to other composers’ scores. He is a regular collaborator of Lisa Gerrard’s, both in her album work and in her scoring (he contributed to Layer Cake and the Salem’s Lot remake), but his principal musical output has been for non-film projects.  His 1988 debut album Cruit adapted music by 17th and 18th century harpists, while his 1993 album, Children of Lir -- the first cantata ever written in the Irish language -- stayed at the top of Ireland’s classical music charts for a full year. Cassidy had an unusual challenge with his score for writer-director John Michael McDonagh’s powerful 2014 drama Calvary. The story of a priest who’s been warned by a confessor that he’ll be murdered in one week boasted a superb performance by Brendan Gleeson in the leading role, while McDonagh’s literate, dialogue-driven script is the kind of material that can have trouble co-existing with a strong score.  Cassidy’s liturgically tinged music was an ideal complement, supportive and never distracting, His latest scoring project is a three-part documentary series on the 1916 Easter Rising in Dublin.


ALEX EBERT

AGE: 38
BIRTHPLACE: Los Angeles
REP: Unavailable
BACKGROUND: short film writer-director, lead singer/songwriter for the bands Ima Robot and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes
RELATIONSHIPS: J.D. Chandor
TOP GROSSING FILMS:
1. All Is Lost--6
2. A Most Violent Year--5

Alex Ebert had only scored a couple of short films when his agent introduced him to writer-director J.C. Chandor. Chandor had made his feature writing-director debut with 2011’s first-rate financial crash drama Margin Call, which earned him an Oscar nomination for his original screenplay, but his second film, All Is Lost, would be the polar opposite of the dialogue-driven Margin Call -- a nearly wordless survival adventure with Robert Redford (the only onscreen actor, in a subtle yet outstanding performance) as a yachtsman trying to stay alive on his sinking boat. A rare contemporary film that relies on music and sound while virtually eliminating dialogue, All Is Lost is the kind of visually striking nautical drama that once might have commanded a symphonic score from the likes of Bronislau Kaper or Dimitri Tiomkin, but Ebert, best known as a songwriter and lead singer for the bands Ima Robot and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes (as well as a solo artist billed as simply Alexander), provided a fresh, low-key score in which the composer sought to “incorporate silence and negative space.”  Ebert won the Golden Globe for his work on the film, which ultimately received only one Oscar nomination (for its masterful sound editing) and never found the theatrical audience it deserved. The composer-director team reunited for Chandor’s third feature A Most Violent Year, an ambitious homage to the morally complex 70s dramas associated with filmmakers like Sidney Lumet and Francis Ford Coppola.  Ebert wrote a restrained score that emphasized the film’s nature as a character study rather than its thriller aspects, and wrote and performed the film’s end title song, “America For Me.” Ebert hasn’t scored a feature since, but he did provide the music for Disney’s Oscar-winning 2014 animated short Feast, and PersonA, the latest album from Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes, was released this spring.

 
AGE: N/A
BIRTHPLACE: Rockford, Texas (Chris Hrasky), Midland, Texas (Michael James, Munaf Rayani, Mark Smith)
REP: Unavailable
BACKGROUND: Texas-based band
RELATIONSHIPS: Peter Berg
TOP GROSSING FILMS:
1. Lone Survivor--125
2. Friday Night Lights--61
 
It seems oddly fitting that this “post-rock” band from Texas should find themselves scoring features, given that the band’s original name, Breaker Morant, came from a critically acclaimed Australian film. The band’s music is largely instrumental, with its members performing on three guitars and a drum kit, and they were approached for their first film, Friday Night Lights, by Brian Reitzell – three of the band’s four members had actually grown up in the town where the true story was set. The film proved to be a box-office hit that inspired a beloved TV series that ran for five seasons (W.G. Snuffy Walden was the principal composer for the show, though some of the band’s music was used, particularly the song “Your Hand in Mine”). The band has not composed a feature score on their own since, though they have shared scoring credits on such films as David Gordon Green’s Prince Avalanche and Manglehorn (both with the director’s regular composer, David Wingo), and reunited with Friday Night Lights director Peter Berg for their biggest box-office hit, the war docudrama Lone Survivor (a shared credit with Steve Jablonsky). While the band has no upcoming scoring projects announced, their music continues to be heard regularly in films, most recently in Me and Earl and the Dying Girl and Knight of Cups, and their most recent album, The Wilderness, was released this spring.

NATHAN FURST
 
AGE: 37
BIRTHPLACE: Northridge, California
REP: Gorfaine/Schwartz
BACKGROUND: Son of actor Stephen Furst
RELATIONSHIPS: Scott Waugh
TYPECAST IN: Action-adventure
TOP GROSSING FILMS:
1. Act of Valor--70
2. Need for Speed--43
 
Among resumes of rising composers, “son of Flounder from Animal House” must be one of the most unusual details. Nathan Furst grew up as a child of the entertainment industry, spending part of his youth on film and TV sets as his father, Stephen Furst, followed up his role in John Landis’s 1978 comedy classic with series regular parts on St. Elsewhere and Babylon 5. According to the younger Furst, it was his father’s Academy membership – and specifically his access to “For Your Consideration” CDs of nominated scores – that helped instill in the son a love of film music. The self-taught Furst started his scoring career in his early 20s, with such projects as the animated kids series Max Steel and the Bionicle video games. In his work for the big screen, his career has been closely tied with stuntman-turned-director Scott Waugh. Furst first gained attention from soundtrack collectors with Varese’s 2005 release of his score for the racing documentary Dust to Glory, on which Waugh served as producer, editor, and second unit director. Furst kept busy over the next several years with indie films, TV movies and direct-to-video projects, and had his next major feature project when Waugh stepped into the (co-) director chair for 2012's Act of Valor, the offbeat military action adventure where the lead actors were all actual Special Forces members. For an action film with no stars, Act of Valor grossed a truly impressive $70 million in the U.S., and allowed Waugh to make his first solo feature directing effort with last year’s video game adaptation Need for Speed. The film, unfortunately, did not escape the video game movie curse, but it did give Furst the welcome opportunity to write a big action movie score while keeping his creative focus on the characters and emotions. Waugh returns to the director’s chair for next year’s survival drama 6 Below, and one hopes Furst will be back with him.
 
AGE: 31
BIRTHPLACE: Linkoping, Sweden
REP: WME
BACKGROUND: Music producer (Donald Glover/Childish Gambino), sitcom composer
RELATIONSHIPS: Ryan Coogler, Rawson Marshall Thurber
FAN FAVORITE: Creed
TYPECAST IN: Comedy
TOP GROSSING FILMS:
1. We’re the Millers--150
2. Central Intelligence--127 (8/21/16)
3. Creed--109  
4. 30 Minutes or Less--37
5. Top Five--25  
6. Fruitvale Station--16
 
Goransson studied jazz in his native Stockholm, and got his break into film scoring by working as an assistant to composer Theodore Shapiro. After receiving “additional music” credits on such Shapiro projects as Marley & Me and Year One, Goransson received his first major feature scoring credit on the Jesse Eisenberg comedy 30 Minutes or Less. But while his big screen work was gearing up, he was having a parallel rise in the world of TV sitcoms. In 2009 he scored the pilot for the cult hit comedy series Community and remained its composer throughout its lengthy, critically acclaimed run. And while Goransson kept busy in the sitcom world with such well-regarded series as New Girl and Happy Endings, his Community ties led to an unusual project, producing records for the show’s Donald Glover as his rapper persona “Childish Gambino.” While Goransson has had some of his biggest boxoffice hits co-writing scores with Shapiro -- specifically for Rawson Marshall Thurber’s comedies We’re the Millers and the current Central Intelligence -- he has worked successfully in a quite different vein for writer-director Ryan Coogler. The gripping true-life tragedy Fruitvale Station featured the kind of low-key, droning score popular with a lot of indie directors these days, and the critically and commercially popular Rocky sequel Creed showed the composer successfully evoking the triumphant sound of Bill Conti’s original scores, as well as working with star Tessa Thompson on her character’s original songs. His most recent TV project is the Law & Order parody Angie Tribeca, it is rumored that he may reunite with Coogler for the Marvel superhero adventure Black Panther.
 
AGE: Unavailable
BIRTHPLACE: Boston, Massachusetts
REP: Fortress Talent Management
BACKGROUND: Rutgers University (composition and piano performance), rock musician, stage composer, assistant to Gil Goldstein and Howard Shore, orchestrator-arranger 
RELATIONSHIPS: Jim Mickle, Kelly Reichardt, Ti West
FAN FAVORITE: Cold in July
TYPECAST IN: Low-budget thrillers
 
Jeff Grace’s career to date has demonstrated how a rising composer can score an impressive number of features and develop strong relationships with respected directors while having a resume that does not including any films that have grossed even one million dollars. Grace was part of Howard Shore’s music crew during Shore’s peak Lord of the Rings period, and Grace said that during that time he received excellent career and creative advice from New Line exec Paul Broucek, who was the Executive Music Producer of the Rings scores: “Don’t try to be John Williams or Howard Shore. They’re already there and there are tons of people more established than you waiting to take over when they’re not available. You also won’t have the resources and budgets they get for a long time, if ever. So, learn to be creative with what is accessible to you. Find a voice for yourself there and people will take notice.” Grace’s first feature to get any significant theatrical release was indie fave Larry Fessenden’s ecologically themed sci-fi thriller The Last Winter (for which Anton Sanko received a credit for “ambient music”), but it was director Ti West’s low-budget horror films The House of the Devil and The Innkeepers that really started to get him noticed by film music fans. His collaboration with director Jim Mickle has yielded three films, most recently the 80s-set noir Cold in July, in which Grace’s music paid homage to the resurgent John Carpenter in a film that even used Carpenter-style Albertus font for its titles. In a more prestigious vein, he scored the female-centric Western drama Meek’s Cutoff for critic’s favorite Kelly Reichardt, following it up with the eco-terrorism thriller Night Moves and the upcoming Certain Women. He will also be reuniting with Ti West for a non-horror project, the Western In a Valley of Violence which stars Ethan Hawke and John Travolta
 
UPCOMING: Certain Women, In a Valley of Violence  

CHRIS HAJIAN
 
AGE:  41
BIRTHPLACE: New York City
REP: Allegro Talent Group
BACKGROUND: New York’s High School for the Performing Arts, Manhattan School of Music, composer for shorts, documentaries and indie features
RELATIONSHIPS: Brad Furman, Alex Zamm
TOP GROSSING FILMS:
1. The Infiltrator--15 (8/21/16)
 
Chris Hajian has been scoring features for twenty years, but the recently released docudrama The Infiltrator is his first film to get a wide release. His first film, Ten Benny, was an indie drama starring a pre-Pianist Adrien Brody, and he followed it with the little-seen Truman Capote adaptation Other Voices, Other Rooms. Hajian, who was recently interviewed for Forbes about the business side of the film music world, has kept busy with the kind of projects that might not gain the wide attention that greets each superhero franchise film but allowed him to develop his craft in directions that megabudget films rarely encourage. His output has ranged from documentaries like First Position (about young ballet students) and Unraveled, to direct-to-video sequels like Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2 and Jingle All the Way 2. As with so many film composers, recurring collaborations with directors have formed the backbone of his career, with Hajian’s work on short films for director Brad Furman (The Lincoln Lawyer) leading to their reuniting for The Infiltrator.  For the 80s-set thriller, Hajian studied the scoring of that era, both the music itself and the way films of the period were spotted, and working closely with his director, he paid homage to that period with a score that balanced synthesizer work with acoustic elements like a guitar and a 30-string ensemble to help maintain the film’s emotional content. Upcoming projects include a documentary on studio exec Alan Ladd Jr., and the TV series Startup, starring Martin Freeman.

DANIEL HART
 
AGE: Unavailable
BIRTHPLACE: Unavailable
REP: WME
BACKGROUND: touring musician with The Polyphonic Spree and St. Vincent
RELATIONSHIPS: David Lowery
TOP GROSSING FILMS:
1. Pete’s Dragon--42 (8/21/16)
 
It sounds like the start of a classic Hollywood cautionary tale.  A director gets hired to make a big-budget studio film after making an well-reviewed indie; the director brings on the talented but obscure composer of the indie; the composer gets replaced by a Hollywood A-lister. However, in the case of the just-released Pete’s Dragon, something like the opposite happened.  David Lowery, director of the acclaimed Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, was an extremely surprising choice to helm a remake of a less-than-classic Disney musical fantasy from the 1970s, so it was less surprising that a three-time Oscar winner like Howard Shore should be announced to write the score. But the film that recently to strong reviews has a score by Daniel Hart, who had scored Ain’t Them Bodies Saints. A former touring musician with such groups as The Polyphonic Spree and St. Vincent, Hart’s collaboration with the director began when Lowery asked him to write some music for his little seen first feature, Saint Nick. After they worked together on a short film, Pioneer, in 2010, their feature Ain’t Them Bodies Saints -- a romantic crime-drama starring Rooney Mara and Casey Affleck -- gained both filmmaker and composer major critical attention, with critics calling its score “lovely,” “highly inventive” and “sublime.” Hart followed it up with a handful of films that didn’t receive a wide release, including the offbeat romance Comet (whose writer-director went on to create Mr. Robot) and this year’s Tumbledown, pairing Rebecca Hall and Jason Sudeikis, but Pete’s Dragon, which earned $21 million on its opening weekend and has an 86 percent positive score on Rotten Tomatoes (as well as a CD release on the Disney label), seems likely to give Hart much deserved opportunities outside of the indie world – if that’s what he’s looking for. And the fact that's it's a first-rate score with strong melodic content shouldn't hurt either.


Parts OneTwoThree and Four of this series can be accessed on the website.
 
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