One of the benefits of producing the FSM CD catalog was that I got a hell of an education in weird and obscure movies from the past. I don’t know how useful this has been to anything else I’ve done, but it certainly helped give me an understanding of pop culture and how it changes over the generations. And it made me feel connected to the older generations of fans, who grew up with this stuff and adored it for what it was. A totally bonkers score—and film—that we released not
Congrats to Hans Zimmer for his Oscar win for Best Score for Dune. I thought it was clearly the best score of 2021, and the obvious winner, because it’s not only objectively great—and so is the film—but the apotheosis of Hans’ art, craft and philosophy. Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at the score courtesy Vanity Fair: I really enjoyed seeing this, and glimpsing the musicians who created the memorable sounds—particularly vocalist Loire Cotler (roll it ahead to 7:30). Yesterda
Jack Sheldon (1931–2019) had a hell of a life. He was an all-time great jazz trumpet player and first-call session musician. (Buy the documentary!) Here he is on flugelhorn for the love theme from Klute by Michael Small (1971): He was also an actor and stand-up comic... And a unique-sounding vocalist... If you’re a Gen-Xer like me, his voice probably sounds familiar from childhood: And, for you folks who only pay attention if it’s Star Trek (hi, Neil!), he was the Holodeck pi
A very boring Oscars suddenly got very interesting—although I already feel dirty from the Monday morning memes and hot-takes. Like most everybody else, I was like, “Another dumb bit”—and then when they ran out of seven seconds to zap in their seven-second delay, I realized, whoa, that was real. If you missed it, here is the uncensored version from Japanese television: I feel bad for anybody with a medical condition (Jada Pinkett-Smith has alopecia) and, yeah, Chris Rock told
Taylor White’s Creature Features store in Burbank used to host live events (panels and gallery openings) and boy were those fun. The panels were good and the chance to see old friends was even better. (Taylor’s shop is still around but no longer open to the public.) At one such event—the photo date stamp is June 7, 2015, but I forget what was going on—I was surprised to see hanging on the wall a familiar costume, from Star Trek: The Motion Picture. It was one of the screen-wo
Marc Silvestri is a very successful comic book artist and creator. He is one of the founders, and the current CEO, of Image Comics. And of course, Alan Silvestri is a very successful film composer and now vintner. He is also possibly the nicest, most reasonable, most easygoing person you will ever meet, especially considering how wildly successful he is. Ever since the 1980s, when I read X-Men and loved the Back to the Future soundtrack—and learned that both Silvestris are It
Lyndon “Lyn” Williams, chairman of the Goldsmith Society, sent this wonderful album of composer photos which I’ve posted at Facebook (nine in all). Here he is in 1998 with James Horner at the Back to Titanic recording sessions. Lyn actually sent this album to us in 2009, when I guess it got lost in all the excitement. But I was recently organizing my hard drive, was astonished to find the album, and emailed Lyn and he kindly reaffirmed his permission to share it. I have a lot
Live on tape on YouTube—my friend Charlie Vignola and I are back to talk about screenwriting. This week we look at some loglines tweeted from the Black List website of amateur scripts they recommended and walk through the thought process of actual executives (Charlie spent 30 years working for Jerry Bruckheimer!) if they encountered these tweets, what they’d actually be interested in reading. What’s the secret sauce? Concept!
I noticed some folks on our message board discussing the 2003 Thunderball CD (with the expanded track list, which I put together for EMI) and trying to figure out how much is still unreleased. I don’t know if this will make matters better or worse, but here are two pages of notes I found from my work on that project: Forgive my rather obnoxious, cursory notes (“zzzzzzzz”) and my terrible handwriting. The cue sheet (and, I presume, the written scores, which are long lost) have
Above is a pic of Gordon Parks, who directed Shaft and Shaft’s Big Score! but had a rich and consequential life well beyond that. When we did the 3CD set we called the Shaft Anthology: His Big Score and More! (now out of print)—containing the original soundtrack to Isaac Hayes’ Shaft (distinct from to the LP recording), the complete Shaft’s Big Score! by Parks, and Johnny Pate’s music for the short-lived Shaft TV series—we unearthed some controversy about the second of those
Here’s a pretty amazing find: a 30-minute behind-the-scenes look at the making of the 1972 Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, with a song–score by John Barry (music) and Don Black (lyrics). The Barry section starts at 7:45 and is a great chance to see him in his element (moviola, piano, music scores) circa 1972. I got to meet Barry but towards the end of his career. I’m always fascinated by photos and footage of our composer heroes when they were young and vibrant and had so m
My wife and I loved this crazy movie! As far as we’re concerned, it’s the first worthy successor to Idiocracy—skewering our dumb culture, dumber media and even dumber politics. It’s especially remarkable given that this type of big-budget farce is the easiest thing to make into a leaden disaster. I can’t recall how many amateur scripts I’ve read that try to write this kind of broad satire...and it’s just painful when it’s not done at this kind of ultra-high level. The secret
Film Score Monthly has endured as long as it has basically because of luck and the kindness of strangers: specifically, the luck I had in order to meet certain, very kind strangers! Almost all of the people who made the magazine and CDs were readers and fans who volunteered their services and became trusted long-time collaborators. Chief among them is Joe Sikoryak, our fabulous art director, who designed every one of our magazines after 1998, and the entirety of our CD catalo
I’ve thought about hosting a podcast, because it might be fun and also help my “brand.” (Is that too blunt?) I enjoy public speaking and have a fair amount of experience both conducting and giving interviews. I figured that if I do want to have a podcast, or YouTube show, or whatever—I would need a sample of my hosting abilities. So...please meet my friend Charles Vignola, a screenwriter and former 30-year executive at Jerry Bruckheimer Films. I’ve known Charlie forever and i
Yesterday there was some drama on “screenwriting Twitter” because Shia LaBeouf likes to enter a lot of screenwriting competitions. Yes, that Shia LaBeouf. And he often places and even wins (I think). There’s a contest called the Finish Line Screenwriting Competition, which notably gives notes to the applicants (for a higher price) and lets them resubmit their work as many times as they want until the deadline. I approve of this approach, because writers need feedback way more
Wow! A blast from the past. Part 1: Part 2: Part 3 (looks like Jon Kaplan is being swallowed up by the sun): This was so much fun to revisit! I was going through my home computer, trying to organize decades’ worth of files and folders...and I found the three-part “Inside Film Score Monthly” documentary that our friend Saul Pincus wrote and directed, and coproduced with Mike Petersen—both longtime FSM subscribers. I remember Saul making this, and then it premiered on FSM Onlin
I was, like most, shocked and saddened to learn of the death of William Hurt. He was a great actor and a unique leading man with his waspy beauty and deep intelligence combined with vulnerability. I can’t think of anybody else like him, and he was so wonderful in those 1980s films like Altered States, Body Heat, The Big Chill and The Accidental Tourist. One of my all-time favorite movie endings is The Accidental Tourist, so brilliantly scored by John Williams—that shot where
I’m doing a major reorganization of decades’ worth of files on my home computer drive. I’ll post some of the interesting things I’ve found in the days ahead...but for now, here’s a screen cap of a very old version of the FSM store. The file is dated February 13, 2001. Two more images: Memory lane!
If you’re interested in learning more about the terrible situation in Ukraine, here is a very insightful (albeit depressing) piece by Seth Abramson. Lots of history, context, analysis. It’s not partisan, but my right-wing friends should probably skip it. Although really, it would be best if you didn’t...? Terrible times.
This is another piece I dashed off at the Scriptfella Facebook group. I thought people might not like it, but the reaction, thus far, has been all positive. Like most people I have sent out query emails in bulk, and it was a time-consuming and demoralizing experience. It felt like I had to send 50 emails to get 2 or 3 read requests...and those were inevitably passes (that I had to chase). I had more success by watching manager interviews on the Scripts & Scribes YouTube chann