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Billions – your creative workflow?
Old 19th June 2018
  #1
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Billions – your creative workflow?

Hi!

I'm a huge fan of your work on Billions and I'd like to ask about your creative process regarding it:

1) When you get the episode, how do you begin the process?

Do you first watch it through without composing anything, make notes, etc?

2) Do you like to approach each scene intuitively, eg. by playing some sounds you feel "fit" the scene and work from that, or first think about the story and begin to craft sounds based on their "function" in the scene?

3) Many of the scenes don't have music. I think it's all the more powerful when a sound then comments a particular scene. But what about the process behind this?

Have you found it best to first rule out scenes that don't need music, so you can focus on the ones that need it? Or is the process messier 'cos of eg. time constraints / dialogue-heaviness?

4) Do you ever get asked to send music to editors (ie. cues you've made are there when you begin) or do you get a blank final cut and compose it from the ground up?

5) Theme music is great! How did you come up with that? (concept and/or sounds)

Thanks! Billions is one of my favorite series and your music has a key role in it. To me, your score adds hugely to the unique feel of Billions, and it's the atmosphere that makes me want to watch it.
Old 27th June 2018
  #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by StereoPari View Post
Hi!

I'm a huge fan of your work on Billions and I'd like to ask about your creative process regarding it:

1) When you get the episode, how do you begin the process?

Do you first watch it through without composing anything, make notes, etc?
Thx, w the basic logistic stuff, I watch it through, focus on the story and what is being said for the episode. I watch with my assistant. After we are done watching I tell him to grab particular previous cues with particular vibes or characters motifs I have done from other scenes and give me 4 or 5 options. I will then go through these, then ask him to import those 1 2 or 3 logic sessions on top of each other. I then dive in, combine and start writing something fresh if it's a new plot line or tweak what I have written before for the new scenes. Each episode has a new plot line and I follow this with new stuff each week.


Quote:
Originally Posted by StereoPari View Post
2) Do you like to approach each scene intuitively, eg. by playing some sounds you feel "fit" the scene and work from that, or first think about the story and begin to craft sounds based on their "function" in the scene?
It really depends actually. Billions is such a dialog heavy show and whatever I do needs to support this. The dialog and the story. But I usually start from a gut place and go with accentuating the feeling in the scene and trying my best to support it and often times underscore it. Then when those times are right, really bring it up and hit it hard. But it's always focused around a particular characters aesthetic. It's not an overtly theme oriented show intentionally via the showrunners, so I focus on keeping the world of the scenes connected to particular characters.

For example, in my brain, Chuck is loose, organic, emotionally sloppy and churning on the inside. So I try and create that for him. Axe is like a robotic serpent, tight, focused and stealthy. Those vibes take me places.


Quote:
Originally Posted by StereoPari View Post
3) Many of the scenes don't have music. I think it's all the more powerful when a sound then comments a particular scene. But what about the process behind this?

Have you found it best to first rule out scenes that don't need music, so you can focus on the ones that need it? Or is the process messier 'cos of eg. time constraints / dialogue-heaviness?
To be honest, 90% of the time when a scene doesn't have music, it's not needed and the showrunners specifically want it to be dry. The other 10 %, I think it should be dry and it feels stronger that way so I say something. But overall I follow the guidelines for what the showrunners + the editors are thinking. Sometimes it's silent, and other times there are 5 or 6 min long cues.


Quote:
Originally Posted by StereoPari View Post
4) Do you ever get asked to send music to editors (ie. cues you've made are there when you begin) or do you get a blank final cut and compose it from the ground up?
Yes the editors have all the cues from previous seasons to pull from. I've had my assistant make a big google doc that has it all cataloged and organized to help them grab stuff. It helps us all tremendously. This way I have a sense of the correct direction or angle they are trying to go for and this way I have direct place to start from. Sometimes the temp of mine they use is spot on but often it's ok but I can hear or see what the scene needs to make it solid.

Quote:
Originally Posted by StereoPari View Post
5) Theme music is great! How did you come up with that? (concept and/or sounds)
I made 5 versions and this was the one the showrunners loved. It just felt subtle and enticing to me. Felt nice over the city shot. Another version I did was much heavier and almost a billions version of the law and order "chung."

Quote:
Originally Posted by StereoPari View Post
Thanks! Billions is one of my favorite series and your music has a key role in it. To me, your score adds hugely to the unique feel of Billions, and it's the atmosphere that makes me want to watch it.
Thanks again! It's been fun. I start season 4 in Oct.
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