Film composers may be accustomed to working alone, but they weren’t immune to the tumult of 2020. Six film music specialists came together — virtually — to discuss the key to writing an effective score, even when creatively challenged by the pandemic: “What I really miss is playing music with human beings.”
2020 was a year like no other, so it’s fitting that The Hollywood Reporter’s Composer Roundtable was unlike any that had gone before.
On Jan. 8, six of Hollywood’s leading film composers came together via Zoom, across three continents, to talk shop: Ludwig Göransson followed up his Oscar-winning Black Panther score with a thumping, time-shifting soundtrack to Christopher Nolan’s Tenet; Tamar-kali offered up a dissonant, daring soundscape for Shirley that won praise from the likes of Iggy Pop; Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross had a busy year with work that included the wall-to-wall 1940s orchestral score for David Fincher’s Mank and the ethereal, synthetic sound of Pixar feature Soul; Terence Blanchard, Spike Lee‘s go-to composer, delivered the majestic musical backdrop for the war drama Da 5 Bloods; and Emile Mosseri, who has quickly established himself as one of indie cinema’s most in-demand music makers, created an affecting, ethereal soundscape for Lee Isaac Chung‘s Minari.
In a lively discussion, this eclectic group of film music veterans and newer talents who find themselves — and their music — in the awards-season conversation discussed the art and craft of film composing, the value of defying expectations and how each of them would score 2020.