Video: Oscar-winning composer Mychael Danna visits SOCAN

Oscar-winning film & TV composer Mychael Danna with SOCAN Account Executive Lorena Zuniga at the “Day in the Life” event. (Photo: Liza Mae)
February 27, 2014

Highly decorated SOCAN member and film & TV composer Mychael Danna, who won a 2013 Academy Award® in the Best Original Score category for his work on the hit movie Life of Pi, recently visited SOCAN’s Toronto office.

In front of a packed audience of SOCAN staffers, Danna – who’s worked on such critical and popular hit films as Little Miss Sunshine, Capote and Moneyball – was interviewed by SOCAN Film & TV Account Executive Lorena Zuniga, discussing his day-to-day work and his hugely successful film composing career.

Danna – who’s also won several SOCAN Awards for his work on such films as Fracture, Where the Truth Lies, and Chloe – stressed that the most important thing for any film composer, and especially for one starting out, is to establish a trusting and collaborative relationship with the director of the film (as he has in his repeated work with Atom Egoyan and Ang Lee). “Your role becomes that of the translator of ideas into music,” said Danna, “Your music can become the heart and soul of their film. You have to be a very good listener.”

Discussing his work composing the Oscar-winning (and 2013 Golden Globe-winning) score for Life of Pi, Danna said, “The challenge was that it’s a kind of film that’s never been made before, so we had to do something original, and that many people said was un-filmable. We had to figure out the role of the music.”

As for the film composing process itself, Danna said, “It’s a non-stop tweaking process. Sometimes [you’ve composed a score and] you have to kill it and start again. It can be a long, laborious process to create something so closely intertwined with the film. [When composing,] you have to get these [musical] ideas, yet you have no idea where they come from, or how to get them to come.”

And where does he keep his Oscar? “Away from my kids,” he joked.