1) DAWN, YOU ARE A STRONG SUPPORTER OF USING LIVE MUSICIANS IN SCORES FOR TV SHOWS. WHY DO YOU THINK IT MATTERS SO MUCH?
How better to convey human emotions that having live, breathing musicians play them. It’s really simple chemistry that works at levels that are sometimes imperceptible, but so important. I have had the experience more than a few times that I beg a producer to allow the budget for real musicians just for the first episode and have them call me from the studio practically crying how the music so dramatically elevated their show….even the most skeptical, have become believers!
And from a business standpoint the Return on Investment is huge. No slam on using songs….I have made a career on that, but for a little over half the cost of one song use of say a minutes or so, we can score an entire show and create an entire unique music story and show identity .
2) PART OF YOUR JOB INVOLVES THE HIRING OF COMPOSERS. WHAT ARE SOME OF THE QUALITIES YOU LOOK FOR IN A PERSON BEFORE ANY DECISION IS MADE?
Dare I say talent? When I first got in the TV game 10 years ago, coming from a long career of film, I noticed that much of the TV music was factory music….it worked for the scene, but was nothing extraordinary, maybe that was because TV was a different animal at that time. Then LOST happened and you had these dirty, sweaty people running around a jungle in peril every week, but they were supported by this gorgeous, emotional score….that was played by live musicians!!! I went to several of my favorite film composers and asked them to just try TV and they did and now love it.
During that period, time TV composing made a huge turn as what was being produced was more filmic and luckily the music followed and created a demand for talent. Richard Kraft and I have lots of conversation about this, what makes a great composer and it’s always that raw talent first.
Secondly is understanding that you are part of a whole, that your job as a composer is to continue and enhance the story that a film maker is telling….leaving “the Artist” for your personal projects.
I and the world are lucky because composers generally are pretty cool people.
3) ABC IS THE PROMINENT LEADER OF MUSIC IN TELEVISION. HOW HAVE YOU HELPED THE NETWORK IN THAT DIRECTION
Yes. When Barry Jossen called me for the job, I told him that I didn’t have much experience in television. He said thats why he wanted me, he wanted to bring film quality music to television…..that was super intriguing and I loved the challenge. I also saw that the tables were turning for music in television and that it was becoming the new radio as the production quality and story was heightened.
I set out to not only have the score of our shows be special and unique, but also to make ABC the place an artist wanted to come to. I created the music lounge which gives a second screen opportunity for artist and composers to be discovered and heard. The showcase series was first, I am pretty sure, at ABC, we certainly were the first to start filming them and give viewers an inside look.
We continually look at other ways to engage our viewers through these new emerging platforms….right now we are having fun with Facebook live and have a whole program of events planned not only in our music lounge, but on the scoring stages!
4) WHAT ARE SOME OF THE CHALLENGES YOU FACE WHILE WORKING ON A TV SHOW?
Time, money and diverse opinion and their order changes by the second.
Time and money are the easy ones because they really are what they are….it’s TV and the show must go on so to speak.
Opinion is the trickiest because you have to always allow people to be heard, but still make it right……sometimes those are worlds apart and many times you have several different opinions about the same thing.
I think one of my best talents and what I work hard at is protecting my composer from this hysteria. I have a system of getting consensus so I can then go to the composer with one unified opinion……mostly it works and sometimes the composer and I just hang on and ride the coaster.
But above all, remembering that we are creating entertainment, so we need to stay entertained and mindful of how very lucky we are.
5) YOU ARE A PARENT AND A FOOD AND GARDEN ENTHUSIAST. HOW DO YOU BALANCE ALL THAT WITH YOUR BUSY WORK ETHIC?
I think I would rephrase that to ask how do I balance my busy life ethic because that is the only way to be truly successful….You have to always consider the whole and it never stops being the practice of balance. The varied paths are always present, either pilot season, taking on big extra credit projects like my digital series ON THE RECORD or a family vacation can throw the balance is off, but I try to stay aware of the priorities and evaluate the rewards.
I am always having a conversation with myself about what is important, what to let go of, what to give to someone and oversee, what to say NO to….the hardest. This year I had to let go of my summer vegetable garden and it was heartbreaking, but necessary.
Next year something else will go because gardening is a true life balancer for me.
My daughter is thankfully an undeniable life balancer and as Bryan Adams sort of said “Everything I do, I do for her”.
and mediate ……..