A national association of professional music composers and producers for film, television and media

Cue Notes

Vol. 6 No. 2 – Summer 2018


by Darren Fung, Second Vice President

When John Welsman called to ask if I would consider writing this month’s View From The Podium, I literally had one foot out the door, heading to the airport to start recording on my latest gig. John, sensing that I was completely vulnerable, pounced, and low and behold, I agreed, and now I’m left sitting in front of my computer, wondering what the heck am I going to write about.

I was fortunate enough on this last gig to have a budget that afforded me the opportunity to work with orchestra and choir, on a CFM contract here in Canada, but I have to say it was one of the most demanding jobs I’ve done, with the last cue only being approved 28 minutes before downbeat. I’ve called my week off my “rehab” week, and as I indeed rehabilitate, I’m reflecting on all the moving parts that had to go smoothly in order for me to relax today.

One of the common questions that people ask when they are being solicited to join or renew their SCGC membership is “what does the Guild do for me?” And when I look back at this past gig, it becomes really easy to draw a line between opportunities that the Guild offered me as an emerging composer, and where I am today. It’s incredible to see how the Guild has impacted, either directly or indirectly, my professional life.

My first experiences working on real-life projects were through the Apprentice-Mentor program with Montreal composer Pierre-Daniel Rheault. I learnt the nuances of working on DAWs (even though he’s evolved to Logic, I’m still a stubborn Digital Performer geek…), synthestration, but probably most importantly, client interaction and the “business.” PDR brought me onboard to be the session “lackey” for the first SCGC Orchestral Reading Program, pioneered in Montreal, and it was he who introduced me to Victor Davies. Victor acted as one of my mentors in the world of live recording sessions, where in turn I graduated from coffee boy to staff conductor (and then back to lackey when I took over as chair of the program!).

The contract that I have with the production company is based on the SCGC’s Model Agreement, something that was deemed fair and equitable for both my producer and myself. The fee that was negotiated for this gig is in-line with the Endorsed Rate Chart that the SCGC recently released. The CFM’s Canadian Content Production Rules (CCPR) contract we used to engage the orchestra was a product of intense lobbying and involvement from the SCGC many moons ago. And while that agreement is currently being renegotiated, this contract allows me to release a soundtrack and a whole whack-load of promotional material for one reasonable fee, paying tribute to the unique production landscape that Canadian productions have to exist in.

I got connected to my assistant for this project, Vincent Pratte, through members of the SCGC. Their references and endorsements led to an incredible personal and professional relationship of over four years. When I needed some hammered dulcimer to be recorded remotely in the GTA, I called up my good friend, Vice-Presidential-Partner-In-Crime and writing partner, Adrian Ellis, who helped track my player. And how did Adrian and I meet? At some SCGC event in Toronto many moons ago.

If I were to sum up what the SCGC means to me, it’s about advocacy, professional development, and networking. And it’s evident from this gig that I just wrapped on, that the dues we pay is money very well spent. But that’s not why I’m a member.

When I think of the CFM CCPR contract that is being renegotiated, I sleep a little bit better knowing that the SCGC has articulated strong positions in an attempt to maintain its sustainability. I think of how the Guild acts as a unified and informed voice to SOCAN, in an attempt to make sure that AV composers’ interests are accurately represented. I think of the valuable industrial intelligence the SCGC brings back through its involvement in various organizations, and how that intelligence has helped us on numerous dossiers, including our Endorsed Rate Card and our new Model Agreement. But I also value being a member of a community that I can turn to for support, friendship and the occasional sponsored libation.

I’m a member of the SCGC because it’s an organization that has my back as a professional screen composer. Membership is my way of saying that I support the mission of the Guild and the causes it champions, and likewise, I have its back. Everything else is just an added bonus.

Plus, the Discuss List is a lot cheaper than therapy!




The New LOUD

By Virginia Kilbertus

Over the past few years, a new trend has emerged in the world of film scoring: that of mixing the score at very high volume. As screen composers, the old adage that “dialogue is king” is usually one of the first and most important lessons that we learn. Increasingly though, this rule no longer seems to apply.

Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar, which came out in 2014, was perhaps the first major film to launch this new trend. It sparked an immediate and heated debate within the film industry upon its release – many complaining about various moments in which the dialogue is swallowed up by score. Nolan admits openly that his approach to mixing is rather unconventional and that the levels in his films are very deliberate. “There are particular moments,” he says with regards to Interstellar, “where I decided to use dialogue as a sound effect, so sometimes it’s mixed slightly underneath the other sound effects or in the other sound effects to emphasize how loud the surrounding noise is… I don’t agree with the idea that you can only achieve clarity through dialogue. Clarity of story, clarity of emotions — I try to achieve that in a very layered way using all the different things at my disposal — picture and sound. I’ve always loved films that approach sound in an impressionistic way and that is an unusual approach for a mainstream blockbuster.”

The criticism that the Interstellar mix received did not serve as a deterrent for Nolan, since his most recent film Dunkirk received a very similar bag of mixed reviews in regards to its sound. This time though, the critics seemed to focus more on the inability to distinguish score from sound effect, rather than the obscuring of dialogue. Nolan explains that once again, these were deliberate choices that were made in order to attempt to create a kind of “visceral realism” in which the actuality of the event on screen could be conveyed. The music and sound effects were so deliberately intertwined in Dunkirk in fact, that “right as [they] got into the edit suite, [they] would lay out [and start] fusing sound effects and music and picture in one very unified rhythmic structure.” This can be observed in Dunkirk right from the beginning, when the sound of a ticking clock starts and continues throughout the rest of the film, coming in and out of focus at various moments.

Coupled with Nolan and Hans Zimmer’s use of a Shepard Tone, a pitch that steadily rises for the entirety of the movie, the Dunkirk soundscape creates a mounting sense of dread and unease so intense that it has proven to be too much for some people. One New Yorker critic, Richard Brody, wrote: “If Nolan really believed in images — in his images — he wouldn’t use such overwhelming music or seat-rumbling bass like a high-budget William Castle.” (William Castle was a producer and a director, known for employing tricks such as attaching vibrating motors to theatre seats during the screenings of his films.)

In addition to this experimentation with the three tiers of sound in a film – score, sound effects and dialogue – Interstellar and Dunkirk also belong to a group of films that are louder than usual overall. Perhaps the most notable other recent film in this category is Blade Runner 2049. Blade Runner 2049 also received complaints for its loudness and was criticized for being distracting and unpleasant to experience. This rising trend in loudness, however, may be a result of the increasing pressure placed on filmmakers to create an immersive experience. Movies today have to be made with advancements in virtual reality, 3D and IMAX technology, and surround sound configurations such as Dolby Atmos, in mind. It is for this reason that directors such as Christopher Nolan visit the best theatres in the world to test their films and make adjustments accordingly. “We made the decision a couple of films ago that we weren’t going to mix films for substandard theaters,” said Nolan in an interview with IndieWire. “We’re mixing for well-aligned, great theaters.”

The issue then of course becomes whether or not the film will translate well to other movie and home theatres, laptops and cell phones. Indeed, watching Blade Runner 2049 on a standard television can be underwhelming after experiencing it in an IMAX theatre. To this, Nolan says, “at a certain point, you have to decide if you’ve made the best possible version of the film and you’re trying to account for inadequacies in presentation… we spent a lot of time and attention making sure that they work in as predictable a way possible.” In the end, it comes down to how the viewer chooses to experience the film. If one does go to a movie theatre, the expectation today is much greater than it was even a few years ago.

What has been made clear through the controversy surrounding films such as Interstellar, Dunkirk and Blade Runner 2049, is that sound mixing has come to the fore as an integral part of the artistic totality of a film. Much as in visual art, tastes vary wildly, as some prefer more interpretive impressionism while others prefer broader, more defined brush strokes. The one thing we can say for certain is that that 2018 is clearly a year for further experimentation and the pushing of boundaries.



Home Base: Toronto, Ontario

Instruments Played: Piano, (Harpsichord stopped at 23), (Viola stopped at 18)

DAW of choice and favourite Feature: Logic Pro X. My favourite feature right now is the ‘capture last take as recording’ feature. A friend brought this to my attention recently after I had complained about losing a good take because I had forgotten to hit ‘record’. My life has never been the same since, as now I never hit the record button before playing, but rather wait until I have a good take and save it immediately. It’s amazing how a little tip like this, given by a friend, would end up changing one’s workflow forever!

Favourite Score and/or composer and why: The Talented Mr. Ripley by Gabriel Yared will forever be my most favourite score of all time, even though there is a good number of scores that continue to floor me.

What fascinates me about this score is the unusual tonalities and the sonic world that he created, which allow the music to sound mysterious and dark yet so lush and plaintive and heavenly. Yared combines beautiful, lyrical melodies with baroque elements that add a certain edge and timelessness to his work. There is something extremely unnerving yet deliciously beautiful  about this score and I think Yared managed to capture the essence of the film and provide it with a unique atmosphere and character that wouldn’t have been possible otherwise. This is also a perfect example, in my opinion, of a thematic film score and how a composer can build a number of diverse cues using a simple melodic line and some counterpoint. When you have a melody with ‘good bones’, the sky is the limit and the scope for imagination is endless.

Most Recent Accomplishment: My piece ‘The Road to Jenin’ from the score I composed for a feature film called ‘The Curve’  just got nominated for a Hollywood Music in Media Award in the world music category, after having won a ‘Global Music Awards’ Silver Medal for outstanding achievement in original score. I was also very fortunate to have been selected as one of six composers for this year’s CFC Slaight Music Residency. I am attending it with my two-week old newborn son, Nabil Amadeus, and so far it’s been wonderful.

Hobbies and Pastimes: World travel, languages and etymology, watching cooking shows and wishing a button on TV would bring the food to life, catching continuity errors, sitting in cafés, discovering new cities on foot.

Piece of Advice for Fellow Composers: Reach out to filmmakers and don’t be scared of rejection; make sure your work is of the best quality, always; as much as possible try to recognize your specific musical voice and become exceptionally good at it and don’t shy away from it; be patient and don’t rush success: look at the legends, their success is measured not by the year or two, but by chunks of five or ten years at a time; enjoy the journey and give yourself permission to relax every once in a while; don’t talk too much about your work but rather let your work do the talking; make sure you have an excellent reputation (it’s just as important as talent, if not more!); and last but not least, recognize that once you’ve built a good relationship with a director, this is a relationship that will last a lifetime.

What Other Job Would You Like to Try: I would love to be a pilot on commercial Trans-Atlantic flights, open a music café where people sip coffee and listen to indie film scores, and be the host of a food and travel TV show.


Compiled by Janal Bechthold & Elizabeth Hannan


Composer Trevor Morris

Steph Copeland led an ensemble orchestra of female musicians to open the 2018 SOCAN Awards. Lora Bidner was one of the musicians in the ensemble.

At this year’s TO Webfest, Adrian Ellis presented the creative and technical process behind the music score. From the initial conversations with the director, to the writing, production, and finally recording the music with an orchestra, the audience was given a glimpse into the process of crafting a cue from the award winning series, “Out With Dad”.

Charlie Finlay and Elizabeth Hannan represented the SCGC during a talk at Recording Arts Canada about working as a composer and the benefits of SCGC membership.

Derek Treffry, Greg Fisher, Paul Novotny and Janal Bechthold met with Members of Parliament Julie Dabrusin and Sean Casey to discuss the Canadian Heritage Copyright Review in Canada.

Greg Fisher and Janal Bechthold appeared on a panel during SOCAN’s Screen Composer Day in Toronto. They discussed copyright from a composer’s perspective and presented the SCGC’s new business tool kit contract and rate card.

Trevor Morris spoke to a sold out crowd at “Encompass: Spitfire Audio In Los Angeles” event in LA. The event was a special live “ask me anything” discussing life as a working composer.

Janal Bechthold appeared on the panel “The End Game: Leveraging Research Conclusions and Recommendations into Action and Implementation Plans” as a part of the Ontario Media Development Corporation’s Digital Dialogue Breakfast series.

Canadian Film Centre Slaight Music residents Virginia Kilbertus, Lora Bidner, Sarah Slean and Jonathan Kawchuk presented their work and performed live at the Slaight Music Residency Showcase on June 27th. Lesley Barber is Chair of the Composer Program and mentors include Tom Third, Mark Korven, Darren Fung, and many others.

Antonio Naranjo,  Suad Bushnaq, Steve Krecklo, Jason Couse, and songwriting duo Ashley Jane and Timon Wientzek have been selected to participate in the 2018/19 CFC Slaight Music Residency.

Marvin Dolgay, John Welsman and Adrian Ellis met with other creator organization leaders as Music Creators North America (MCNA), an alliance of songwriter & composer organizations that advocate for & educate North America’s music creator community, met in Toronto to review global challenges facing musicians, composers, and songwriters.

Glenn Morley, Victor Davis, and Ed Henderson have been re-elected to the SOCAN Board for the 2018-2021 term.



Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

Trevor Morris has been invited to join the Music Branch Class of 2018


ASCAP Screen Music Awards

Top Television Series – Awarded to themes and underscore from the highest rated television series

Robert Duncan – “S.W.A.T”

Gary Koftinoff – “Saving Hope”

Michael Berec (with Jack Lenz) – “Good Witch”

Composer Steph Copeland
Matthew Rogers (L) - Leo Winner

2018 Christopher Dedrick Music Fund – Award for Live Musicians on Media Soundtracks

Steph Copeland

Emmy Awards – Television Academy

Outstanding Music Composition For A Limited Series, Movie Or Special (Original Dramatic Score) – Nomination

Mychael Danna (with Jeff Danna) – “Alias Grace: Part 1” (Netflix)

Outstanding Original Theme Title Music

Mychael Danna – “The Last Tychoon” (Prime Video)


Leo Awards – Celebrating the Best in BC’s Motion Picture Industry

Best Musical Score in a Motion Picture

Matthew Rogers – “Adventures in Public School” **Winner

Michael Neilson – “Drone” (nominee)

Daniel Ross – “Luk’Luk’I” (nominee)

Jesse Zubot – “Indian Horse” (nominee)

Best Musical Score – Animation Program or Series

David Parfit (with Marc Junker) – “S.O.S.” **Winner

Best Musical Score – Short Documentary Program

David F. Ramos – “In Three Years” **Winner

Best Musical Score in a Dramatic Series

Brent Belke – “You Me Her – Silver Linings and Vodka” (Nominee)

Best Musical Score in a Short Drama

Blake Matthew – “La Buena” (Nominee)

Daniel Séguin – “The Undertakers Son” (Nominee)

Best Musical Score in a Television Movie

Hal Foxton Beckett – “All for Love” (Nominee)

Best Musical Score in a Documentary Series

Peter Allen – “Nations at War – Wild West” (Nominee)

Christopher Nickel – “Heavy Rescue: 401 – Feels Like A Win” (Nominee)

Greg Fisher(L), Derek Treffry (R) SOCAN Award winners
Gary Koftinoff (second from left) ASCAP Award winner

SOCAN Music Awards

SOCAN Award for Domestic Television Music Non-Fiction

Derek Treffry & Greg Fisher – “Border Security: Canada’s Frontline”

Murray Fleming (with Stephan Moccio) – “Sportsnet Central”


SOCAN Award for Domestic Television Music

Gary Koftinoff – “Saving Hope”


SOCAN Award for International Television Series

Derek Treffry & Greg Fisher – “Border Security: Canada’s Frontline”


SOCAN Award for Achievement in Feature Film Music

Mychael Danna (with Jeff Danna) – “Storks”


SOCAN Award for Achievement in Made-for-TV Film Music

Michael Nielson – “Not with his Wife”


SOCAN Award for International Film Music

Mychael Danna (with Jeff Danna) – “Storks”

Mychael Danna (with Jeff Danna) – “The Good Dinosaur”


Jay Semko co-wrote the song “She Ain’t Pretty” performed by The Northern Pikes and honoured with a SOCAN Classics Award.

Rosie Awards (AMPIA) – Celebrating Alberta’s Motion Picture Industry

Best Original Musical Score Non-Fiction Under 30 Minutes

Alec Harrison – “Travel Alberta Summer: Winter Anthem 2017″


Best Original Musical Score Non-Fiction Over 30 Minutes

Alec Harrison – “Rare Mettle”


Best Original Musical Score Drama Under 30 Minutes

Mike Shields & Ciara Proznik – “Falling Through the Cracks: Greg’s Story”


Best Original Musical Score Drama Over 30 Minutes

Alec Harrison – “Ice Blue”

Webby Awards

Best Sound Design/Original Music Score for Podcasts and Digital Audio

Ben Goldman (nomination)




Amin Bhatia & Ari Posner – “Anne with an E” (Netflix US)


Robert Duncan – “Take Two” (ABC/CTV)


Todor Kobakov – “Ransom” Season 2 (CBS/Global TV)


Simon Poole – “Fear Thy Neighbour” Season 5 (Investigation Discovery)


Sean James Boyer – “Dog Tails” theme music (Gusto)







Craig McConnell & Margaret Tobolowska (as Rage Angel) – “Till Death”


Jesse Zubot – “Indian Horse”


Dillon Baldassero & Casey Manierka-Quaile – “Mary Goes Round”




Dances With Films:

Craig McConnell & Margaret Tobolowska (as Rage Angel) – “Till Death”


Female Eye Film Festival:

David Federman – “Esmerelda’s Castle”


Hot Docs International Documentary Film Festival:

David Arcus – “The Haircut”

William Baird – “Eviction Notice”

Lora Bidner  – “Slut or Nut”

Suad Lakišić Bushnaq – “At Home with the Horses”

Todor Kobakov ­- ‘The Guardians”

Scott MacMillan – “The Fairy Faith”

Casey Manierka Quaille – “Prince’s Tale”

Ken Myhr – “The Accountant of Auschwitz”

Michael Richard Plowman – “Letter from Masanjia”

Tom Third – “Yellow is Forbidden”

Tom Third – “What Walaa Wants”

Rob Teehan – “Take Light”

Rob Teehan – “Vika”

Adam White – “Thank You For Playing” (sound)


Los Angeles Live Score Film Festival:

Steph Kowal is one of the chosen composers to score a film to be performed live by the Helix Collective


Tribeca Film Festival:

Tom Third – “Yellow is Forbidden”

Steve London – “Stockholm”


Toronto International Spring of Horror & Fantasy Film Festival

David Federman – “Cruzar el umbra”


Women in Film and Television Toronto Festival:

Janal Bechthold – “Martin’s Hagge”



Composer Janal Bechthold

Alex Klingle created custom music for the trailer for “The Predator” which aired during the NBA finals. He also created custom music for Lucasfilm’s “Solo: A Star Wars Story” trailer campaign.


Asif Illyas built a full size Boeing 737 cockpit in his home and launched a new internet music show, “Live On The Flight Deck”, which is filmed in the cockpit and incorporates elements of travel, music, and stories!


Margaret Tobolowska released her 9th studio album “Heroines in Harmony” which honours Canadian women’s lives and achievements.


Milan Records released Dillon Baldassero’s soundtrack for “Black Cop” and Spencer Creaghan’s soundtracks for “Nobody Famous” and “Blackwater”.


Erica Procunier was featured in-conversation with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, discussing scoring “DAM! The Story of Kit the Beaver”. http://canadamosaic.tso.ca/elearning/introduction-to-film-music-dam-the-story-of-kit-the-beaver/


Janal Bechthold was featured in an article in Now Magazine on Canadian women composers and increasing representation in the industry.   https://nowtoronto.com/music/features/the-celluloid-ceiling/


Neil Parfitt was featured in an interview with Frederator Studios where he discussed scoring the animated series “Bravest Warriors” Season 4. http://frederatorstudios.com/neil-parfitt-the-frederator-interview/



By Craig McConnell


John Williams’ early life: How a NoHo kid and UCLA Bruin became the movie music man

John Williams is synonymous with Hollywood. The “Star Wars” composer, who has racked up an incredible 51 Oscar nominations, could easily be called the composer laureate of American cinema.



From Ownership to Access

Across most media industries – music, video and news especially, the future of content monetization will be built around advertising for the mass market and subscriptions for the aficionados, while additional opportunities exist for one-off transactions within both environments.



MIT Develops AI That Can Isolate the Individual Instruments in a Song

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has announced a new AI that has the capability to isolate individual instruments within a piece of music. Even better, it also makes it possible to adjust the individual elements, remove them, or remix them in any way.


MIT Develops AI That Can Isolate and Edit the Individual Instruments in a Song


AI Made a Movie With a ‘Silicon Valley’ Star—and the Results Are Nightmarishly Encouraging

There’s really no nice way to put this: In his new film, ‘Zone Out’, Silicon Valley star Thomas Middleditch makes you want to do just that.



ASCAP, BMI Schedule Workshops for Composers

Two major performance-rights organizations announced this week the launch of workshops designed to aid up-and-coming film and TV composers: ASCAP, for film scoring; and BMI, for conducting. Both are multi-week events for which hundreds apply annually, and the two will culminate in live recording sessions at Los Angeles area studios later this month.



Canada’s SOCAN Reports Another Record Year With $352 Million in Royalty Collections, 8 Percent Growth

In its seventh consecutive “record-setting” year, the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada (SOCAN) collected $352 million ($265M USD) in total revenue for its fiscal year, ending Dec. 31, 2017, it was announced at its Annual General Meeting in Toronto. The figure is an 8 percent increase over 2016.






We welcome your suggestions for story ideas!

Email the Guild: info@screencomposers.ca

Cue Notes:
Craig McConnell
: Editor
Nicholas Stirling: Layout, Web
Admin: Tonya Dedrick

From Ownership to Access

“Taking Possession” is screening at the International Short Film Festival SHORT FORM, in Serbia! Congrats @federmusik! #composer @TakPo_1883

@SCREENCOMPOSERS • about 2 hours ago

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