Dan Brown Jr is a composer and sound engineer who recently scored Josh Mitchell’s new film Siphoned that can be seen on Vimeo, here is a link to his website:
Q: What made you interested in becoming a composer?
A: I come from a rich musical heritage. My grandfather was a great musician, and was the first inductee into the Bluegrass Hall of Fame. My uncles, and father were all musicians, and I’ve had the gift of music inside of me my whole life. I remember as a small boy complaining to my parents about this little man inside my head that would not stop playing music. It was actually a pretty big deal, because the music in my head kept me up all night. As time passed, it became clear that I had a deeper understanding of advanced music concepts, and natural gifting to create melodies that others in my age range did not have. So in a way, becoming a composer kind of chose me I guess.
Q: What kind of training did you have to become a sound engineer?
A: I’ve been making bedroom recordings as far back as I can remember. (Most of which sound terrible!) After a lifetime of DIY recording I decided to take audio engineering seriously. Currently, I am pursuing a BS in Music Production from Full Sail University. I have about 10 months left in the program, and as of today I have a 4.0, and I am on track to graduate at the top of my class. But there are many other options for people to learn this industry. Not everyone has to go to school to be a great composer, or engineer, but it does help.
Q: What have you found to be the best way to get jobs in the film industry in LA?
A: Network, and offer your services for free for a while! If that breaks the bank, try and offer some pretty deep discounts. After you’ve connected with your local market, and your work speaks for itself, the jobs will come to you. Remember, every time your name appears in a movie, it sells you for you. If that doesn’t work, try craigslist.
Q: What inspires you?
A: I believe all creativity comes from the Lord Jesus. For a more down to earth answer, a good project! If a client comes to me with a great movie or project, the creative juices start flowing right away. If the project is “less than epic,” then a one-on-one meeting with that client usually does the trick. Seeing the creator’s excitement about their baby always rubs off on me, and the final project shows.
ON top of that, other great composers also lend advice via their scores. Listen, Listen, and then listen some more. If you get stumped, go watch a movie for some inspiration.
Q: What is the movie Siphoned about?
A: Well, without giving away too much. IT’S AWESOME! It’s about 2 actors, who become so broke they can’t even pay for gas. Get it? Siphoned? You can’t chase a dream on an empty tank! Make sure to check this film out. I personally poured myself into the music, and in the end, it became a major player in creating the overall feel of this movie. Go watch it!
Q: What sort of mood or effect were you trying to create with the music for the film?
A: Tension, Suspense, and more Tension! There are a lot of cool cues in Siphoned. I used everything from guitars to cellos to war drums to synths to… and the list goes on, and on, and on.
Q: What is your strangest work story?
A: Great question! I worked on this terrible horror movie back in Denver. I was brought on to score the movie, and ended up being the new editor, sound designer, ADR recorder, the audio mixer, I then cut a new trailer, and even designed the final movie poster. What makes this the strangest work story ever was that these guys never paid the bill! After all that work, these guys still owe me a ton of money.
My advice to all composers is very simple. Get paid for what your time is worth up front, and then your covered. When you receive your markup at the end, it’s all roses, and cheesecake.
Q: What do you like about the film industry?
There’s a lot of work, and a lot of different types of projects to get involved in. If you stay focused, you can go as far as you want in this industry.
Q: What is the one thing you would change about it if you could?
A: It’s hard to break into the good projects when you’re the new guy in town. I’ve been here for just under a year, and it seems that I’m only now getting in the door. If you’re a composer or audio engineer, LA is the place to be!
Q: Which of the nominated films do you think should take home the Oscar this year?
A: You mean people actually watch these? Jk!
Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects:)