I scored SOLO. I don’t know that I’ve been prouder of a score as a whole. I think a lot of that has to do with how much time and effort I put into it. There are individual pieces of music I’ve written that I love more; but the music I wrote for all three episodes, combined with the process itself, make me heart SOLO more than I can say.
In The Beginning… There was Jonathan
I met Jonathan Nail on Twitter. That alone should be an endorsement to join the site. We sat down for lunch in Santa Monica in April of 2009 and he pitched me the idea for SOLO. And when I say “pitch,” I mean he acted out all the parts in the restaurant. It was inspiring. And slightly scary. But mostly inspiring. And I knew, in that moment, that I wanted to be a part of SOLO. I didn’t care what the budget was, I didn’t care how long it took, I wanted to be a part of Jonathan’s baby. Fortunately, he wanted me, too.
Jonathan approached Allison Vanore about producing, and she put together a stellar crew (including DP’s PJ Gaynard & Raphe Wolfgang) and we started shooting in October 2009. I offered to help out with craft services, and they asked me to fill in. It was the first time I’d worked on a set, so I was excited and eager to help make SOLO a reality in any way that I could. The next day, one of the grip & electric crew was a no-show. Grip/Electric Swing is someone who sets up all the stands and lights for the Gaffer and Key Grip. So I gripped. The cast and crew of SOLO felt like a big family, and I wanted to help in any way that I could so that it would see the light of day.
I loved working on set. The energy and excitement of all involved was electric; Everyone powered through and worked like a well-oiled machine. The acting was stellar; Michele Boyd was funny and interesting; Amol Shah, Jay Caputo & Melissa Dalton had everyone laughing with their banter on and off camera, Jason Burns as PHAL was the perfect fit, and it was exciting to meet him finally after almost a year of following him on Twitter. And then there was Mr. Nail. No one else could have played Scott Drizhal as well as as Jonathan. His talent & comedic timing were a joy to watch live, especially when he improved lines.
Starting The Score
When we wrapped the first two episodes, Director Jorge Urbina and I sat down for dinner and talked about the direction he and Jonathan wanted to take with the score. Jorge is very detailed in his thinking, and he asked me to think about not only the character’s emotions, but the techniques when directing, and the camera angles he used when thinking about the musical choices I would be making.
But Jorge had to leave for a film production job in The Philippines, so Jonathan and I got to work on the score for the duration. We had the luxury of time; there was no set release date yet, so we were able to sit down and craft the score that fit the film. Episode 1 took the longest. We had to figure out how each of us worked, and how we fit together. It takes time to get that shorthand down, and that’s what Ep1 was for.
The hardest cue was the theme. We went through almost 10 variations before we “found” the one that worked, and fit SOLO the best. We tried orchestral, pop, country, 70’s groove, and finally landed on jazz, with a sci-fi twist. We would have never found the theme if we hadn’t gone through all the “rejects” first; it’s part of the process.
By the time we got to Episode 2, things were rolling. The first draft of the score was 75% there, and we were starting pre-production on Episode 3. In the three episodes of SOLO, there were more “styles” than anything else I’ve ever worked on. There’s orchestral, pop, jazz, Indian, Asian, horror, comedic and dramatic cues throughout the 18 minutes of television. I loved being able to mix things up and jump from genre to genre.
I helped out on set once again for Episode 3, this time with the talented Allison Vanore directing, and we jumped into post very quickly. This time around, the music came together even faster, despite my studio computer crashing (the motherboard fried) at the tail end, forcing me to finish the last cue on my laptop so we could lock the episode on time. So it was ready for the world premiere.
Normally, I am not a fan of premieres when my music is in the film. I tend to pick apart the score while I’m watching, it’s all I hear when watching the big screen. SOLO was an exception. I was excited to see it with an audience. And boy, did we have an audience. We packed the house at Cinespace; over 250 people showed up to support Jonathan and SOLO. There were more Twitter friends in attendance than any other event I’ve been to (140Conf aside). I wanted to meet everyone, and although it wasn’t possible, I met a ton of people whose support of web television was endearing. There were other content creators there as well, and I was lucky to talk with some very talented people whose series I’m excited to support.
Here’s the WebFiles at the premiere, interviewing the cast and crew (including me) on the red carpet.
The Fans & The Future
I want there to be more SOLO. I want to score more SOLO. I want to work with Jonathan season after season. Episode 3 would not have been possible without the help of the SOLOnauts, fans who supported SOLO by donating their hard-eared money before they saw even one episode. Thank you for everything you’ve given, the times you’ve promoted and RT’ed links, for showing up at the premiere. You’re the ones we’re doing this for.