Thursday, January 27, 2011

I Scored a Movie

My brother made an animated short for BYU Broadcasting, and he asked me to write the music for it. I did, and there are some things I've learned from the process.

1—Writing music is the easiest and breeziest process of making the actual music. I composed the score for the movie in about two hours, but it took SO MUCH LONGER to record and edit the darn thing. A lot of that had to do with me being so inexperienced, but still.

2—Hearing someone else play your music is a downright thrilling experience. After we were about half an hour into the recording session, I was getting really frustrated with my playing, so our producer found this guy last minute. His name is Ty, and he was awesome. It was so cool to watch in real time as somebody else learned and interpreted what I'd written. He didn't play it exactly as I'd imagined, but I was not at all disappointed with his performance. He really got into it, and when he put his own personality into the piece, it was actually rather illuminating. Yeah, I have to say that the most rewarding thing composers could hope for is just to hear their music played by someone else.

3—Working with my brother is awesome. We had an absolute trust and respect for each other's work, and I think the final project shows that. I hope to do a lot more with him in the future. We've already started some preliminary/concept stuff for a new project that promises to be epic and wonderful. Here's a taste of what some of it might feel like:

4—All my hours screwing around on Finale and reading Fux and Schoenberg and taking music lessons seem 100% justified now that it's produced a paycheck. It's not an incredibly large check, and I don't plan on making my living off of composition, but I definitely wouldn't turn away future job offers.

5—I'm grateful for parents who were willing to shuttle me to music lessons, and for all my teachers who were willing to put up with me—especially my high school theory teacher, Mr. Breland. I was a huge jerk in his class, but that is where I learned my foundation for theory. I hope he'll think kindly on those days and forgive me for being a teenager. And then there's Betty Pack, whose you-can-do-it attitude has had an enormous impact on me for the past dozen years.

6—Before I scored "Metro," I had a style that I always wrote in that was really comfortable for me, and I wasn't sure if I could depart from it. But Jake wanted a piece that was kind of French impressionist, so I studied Debussy, Satie, and Fauré's harmonies. At first it was clumsy; my first draft sounded just like a Satie gymnopedie to a fault. It was simple mimicry. But gradually I got comfortable with it, and I feel that I came pretty close to the mark in terms of style. This project has given me some confidence to explore other styles of writing.



I'll post a link to the actual movie once we can legally do that. Right now it's being considered for some festivals, so we can't have it online.


  1. I really enjoyed the score for METRO. I was amazed at how much the music added to the storytelling.

    And thanks for the tip on Scott Joplin. I love his stuff so much. And Pandora has already introduced me to a few new composers from the same time period that are very fun.

  2. I'm glad you got into Joplin. He's good times. I'm always happy to help a brother out.

  3. Turns out that MY brother is great to work with, too. Go figure.

    It was really interesting reading about this whole process from your end, and what gave you the tools to do it. I now feel the beginnings of guilt for treating Breland like I owned his house or something.

    Even though the man was clearly asking for it.

  4. Hey Michael Wyatt.. We love you and look forward to your movie. Tell Jake we're pulling for a blockbuster. Thanks for your remembrance of Betty Pack. She now teaches piano in three locations in Chile to over 20 students. We are also the mission grandparents and love it.

    Elder y Hermana Pack, Chile Santiago Oeste Mision

  5. Those are some lucky Chileans.

    I love you two,