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Alex Redfern M.M. ’13 and Clementine Charuel M.M. ’18, both graduates of the Master of Music in Scoring for Film, Television, and Video Games, were selected to take part in the 31st annual ASCAP Film Scoring Workshop, a prestigious program that provides composers with the knowledge and connections they need to succeed in the film industry.
“This was my fifth time applying,” said Redfern. “I have two friends who have done the workshop in the past, and both said it was a great experience and can trace back a lot of their work to connections made during the program.” Charuel was motivated by feedback from faculty members Sergio Jiménez Lacima and Vicente Ortiz Gimeno, who attended the workshop a few years ago. “I tried this year for the first time,” she said. The recordings she submitted came from her time at Berklee Valencia, when she visited the Air Studios in London and recorded with the Budapest Art Orchestra.
Tips from Top-Notch Faculty
The four-week program started on July 8 in Los Angeles, California. Only 12 composers from eight different countries were accepted to the workshop. “The other participants are all amazing composers and I have made some lifelong friends. I am looking forward to working with them all in some form in the future,” said Redfern.
Participants had access to A-list Hollywood composers and top industry professionals, including studio executives, agents, attorneys, and music supervisors. Several high-profile composers mentored the group, including Oscar nominees John Debney (Elf, Iron Man 2) and Bruce Broughton (Silverado, The Rescuers Down Under), and Grammy-nominated composer Tom Holkenborg (Mad Max: Fury Road, Deadpool).
“All these professionals oriented their workshops to a specific aspect of the industry. It was extremely interesting to have the points of view of so many different minds,” said Charuel. Redfern highlighted John Powell’s masterclass, where the Shrek and How to Train Your Dragon composer shared his thoughts on inspiration and developing a unique voice. “We had one-on-one sessions with some of the top orchestrators in Los Angeles. Mark Graham of JoAnn Kane Music [a music preparation company] looked through my score and gave me some great ideas on how to get the most out of my session,” he added.
Recording Live from Los Angeles
The workshop culminated on July 29 at the historic Newman Scoring Stage at Fox Studios, where each composer conducted and recorded their own original score for a major motion picture scene with a 64-piece orchestra, using the same professional tools used by world-class composers.
At the beginning of the workshop, each participant was assigned a cue. Charuel’s belonged to the 2016 live-action version of The Jungle Book, originally scored by John Debney. “I was really happy, because it has a lot of space for thematic elements and dynamic changes,” she said. “Four students shared this excerpt, and we all did very different music. It was so interesting to see everyone’s perception of the picture.”
Each composer had 16 minutes to record his or her music, but Charuel experienced a bumpy ride. “At one point, I couldn’t manage to get everyone together, and there was not enough time remaining to find the origin of the problem,” she explained. “After listening to the recording, I noticed that someone accidentally added two clicks in my click track during the first and second take. I had been really mad at myself for not understanding what was happening, but when I realized it was due to a problem in the booth, I felt much better.”
Redfern’s cue was a chase scene from the 2017 film War for the Planet of the Apes. “The music was around two and a half minutes long,” he said. “It started with a militaristic feel, going to a mysterious and dark section before hitting the chase, which was hectic action music, and finally a magical section at the end of the chase. I wanted it to be entirely orchestral in scope, without using any synthesizers. I’m very happy with how it turned out, as I was able to experiment a little and I accomplished some things I had never attempted before.”
Looking to the Future
Redfern said the workshop has allowed him to reflect and refocus on the next steps to take with his career. “I now know more clearly the type of composer I want to be,” he said. “I have gained a valuable bag of resources that I can use to take these next steps. The publicity from being on such a well-known and prestigious program will inevitably help as well.”
His current professional projects include scoring the soundtrack to No Roses On A Sailor’s Grave, a documentary about a young historian who promises a 92-year-old veteran that he will find his ship, which was wrecked just a few days after D-Day in 1944. Charuel is currently collaborating with two composers based in Paris, as well as working on her own compositions, with an eye on French cinema.
Charuel said she was grateful for the connections she made with her fellow composers, the ASCAP team, and the mentors. She was also the recipient of the ASCAP Foundation Award for a French passport holder, which included financial aid for the course and a year’s worth of mentoring sessions with award-winning French composer Didier Rachou. “This is an amazing opportunity and I will be forever thankful to anyone involved in it,” she said.