VERSED: The ASCAP Podcast / Ep. 6 - Sundance Composers Pt. 1

February 6, 2020



VERSED is a bi-weekly podcast illuminating the heart and soul of music. Featuring in-depth interviews with songwriters and composers, plus tips and insights to help you navigate your music career. Brought to you by ASCAP, home of the world's greatest music creators.


A great film is a feast for the eyes and the ears. At this year's Sundance Film Festival, ASCAP members' music amplified the impact of dozens of official festival selections. In this special episode of VERSED, we talk to Nainita Desai, Bear McCreary, Alex Somers and Jay Wadley - four ASCAP film composers whose music graced some of the winning films at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. PLUS: our very own Amanda Shoffner, ASCAP Director of Film & TV/Visual Media Membership, schools us with some #SoundAdvice about cue sheets - what they are, how to use them, and why they can be a composer's best friend.

+ASCAP's 2020 Sundance Composer Spotlight - Get to know the composers behind this year's Sundance selections

+Cue Sheet Corner - everything you need to know about how ASCAP uses cue sheets to get you paid for your film/TV performances

+Apply to the ASCAP Film Scoring Workshop in LA - record an original cue with a 60+ piece orchestra! Deadline is April 1, 2020.

Sundance Composers  

NAINITA DESAI // Sundance Film: The Reason I Jumpwinner of The Audience Award: World Cinema Documentary

RTS and BIFA nominated composer Nainita Desai is a BAFTA Breakthrough Brit. She has scored countless BAFTA, Oscar, Emmy acclaimed productions. The PRS recently placed Desai at No 2 in their Top 10 female writers whose work was most used in Film & TV. She won Best Feature Film Score at the Music+Sound Awards 2016, and is a GOPO Romania Film Awards Nominee 2019, NaturVision Film Awards Winner 2019 for Best Film Score. Nainita’s recent feature releases include Cannes and SXSW winning feature For Sama, which won 4 BIFAS as well as being a Best Music nominee, Untamed Romania, the most successful Romanian non-fiction film of 2018, WW2 period drama Enemy Within, and psychological horror Darkness Visible. Her score for Interactive game/video game Telling Lies is on the Top Games of 2019 for Annapurna Interactive and features an award winning theme performed by the LCO. Upcoming series include Netflix original Bad Boy Billionaires and Quibi|BBC NHU series Fierce Queens. Her passion for music technology then led to her working in music engineering working with many top artistes and bands ranging from The Damned to Tori Amos. which led to work with Peter Gabriel during the legendary Real World Recording Week sessions, and working with the top world music artists including Billy Cobham, Daniel Lanois, Jane Siberry, Nigel Kennedy, Sinead O’Connor, Ravi Shankar.

Website: // Facebook: @nainitadesai // Instagram: @nainita_desai

BEAR McCREARY // Sundance Film: Crip Campwinner of the Audience Award: US Documentary

Emmy and BAFTA award-winning composer Bear McCreary first launched into pop culture with his groundbreaking score to the hit series Battlestar Galactica, lauded by Variety as “the most innovative music on TV.” McCreary has twice been voted ASCAP TV Composer of the Year by his peers. Recent projects include Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures’ Godzilla: King of the Monsters, Orion’s latest reimagining of the 1988 slasher film Child’s Play, Universal/Blumhouse smash Happy Death Day; the Netflix film Eli, Apple’s new drama series SEE, and Sony PlayStation’s award-winning game God of War; and the drama feature The Professor and the Madman, starring Mel Gibson and Sean Penn.

Website: // Facebook: @BearMcCrearyOfficial // Instagram: @BearMcCreary


ALEX SOMERS // Sundance Film: Miss Americana & Charm City Kingswinner of a US Dramatic Special Jury Award for Ensemble Cast

Alex Somers is an American composer and producer who currently resides in Los Angeles, having spent most of the last decade living in Reykjavík, Iceland, where he studied visual art at the Iceland Academy of the Arts. Somers was born in Baltimore and studied composition at Berklee College of Music in Boston. He first rose to prominence in 2009 with Riceboy Sleeps, his ambient album collaboration with partner Jónsi (Sigur Rós). Following the highly-acclaimed Riceboy Sleeps project, Somers co-produced Jónsi’s 2010 debut solo album Go, and went on to play keyboards and guitar on the album’s world tour. He then began expanding his production work by opening his own recording studio in Reykjavík where he co-produced and mixed Sigur Rós’ 2013 album Valtari. At his studio he continued to collaborate with artists Jónsi, Julianna Barwick, Jóhann Jóhannsson, Gyða Valtýsdóttir, Damien Rice, Amiina, Sin Fang, Briana Marela and more.

Somers began scoring for film and TV in 2011 and has collaborated with Jónsi to compose music and produce songs for We Bought A Zoo, the How to Train Your Dragon trilogy, Aloha, season one of WGN’s Manhattan and The Circle. In 2016, Somers took on his first solo film, providing an original score for Matt Ross’s Cannes-feted Captain Fantastic, and in 2017 he worked with Bill Morrison on his award winning documentary Dawson City: Frozen Time, which he later performed live to picture with the Winnipeg Symphony as part of the Winnipeg New Music Festival.

In 2017, Somers also scored the “Hang The DJ” episode of the highly-acclaimed Netflix series Black Mirror, and provided original music for the Oscar nominated documentary Hale County This Morning, This Evening, and additional music alongside composer Danny Elfman, to Gus Van Sant’s Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot, both of which premiered at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival. In 2019 Somers composed the music for Honey Boy, a film written by Shia LaBeouf and directed by Alma Har’el.

Somers was at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival with the opening night film Miss Americana (Documentary Premieres) and Charm City Kings (US Dramatic Competition). Miss Americana is the Taylor Swift Netflix original documentary from Emmy-winning director Lana Wilson, which she describes as a “raw and emotionally revealing look at one of the most iconic artists of our time.” Directed by Angel Manuel Soto, Charm City Kings is based on the documentary 12 O’Clock Boys and tells the story ofone boy’s unforgettable journey toward manhood.

Most recently, Somers has collaborated with Jónsi and producer Paul Corley on Liminal, an endless ambient mixtape built around music from the ’Sigur Rós family’ of artists, as well as a live musical soundb ath, which they have performed in Los Angeles, London, Paris, Barcelona, Hobart and Reykjavík.

Website: // Facebook: @alexsomersmusic // Twitter: @alexsomersmusic

JAY WADLEY // Sundance Film: I Carry You With Mewinner of The Audience Award: NEXT and the NEXT Innovator Prize

Jay Wadley is a composer and music producer currently working on the original score for Charlie Kaufman’s upcoming film, I’m Thinking of Ending Things. His score for James Schamus's critically acclaimed directorial debut, Indignation (Lionsgate), was featured in IndieWire's “10 Best Scores of 2016,” received a Billboard premiere and a concert performance by the Winnipeg Symphony for Soundtracks Live. Recent projects include Heidi Ewing’s I Carry You With Me, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival 2020, as well as Tales of the City (Netflix/Universal), Emmy-nominated Raised in the System (HBO/VICE) Season 6 Premiere, Rhys Ernst's (Transparent) directorial debut ADAM, Andrew Ahn’s (Spa Night) Driveways, The OA (Netflix/Plan-B), AnuValia's Sundance winning short Lucia, Before & After and Jacob La Mendola's Emmy-nominated Long Shot (Netflix). His films have played at Sundance, Telluride, SXSW, Berlin, Rotterdam, Tribeca, BFI London, LA Film Festival, Montreal film festivals and others.

Website: // Facebook: @jaywadleymusic // Instagram: @jaywadley

Amanda Shoffner

Amanda Shoffner is the Director of Film & TV/Visual Media Membership at ASCAP. She spent time working alongside the A&R and creative teams at Warner Bros. Records and has served as a Junior Creative on both the advertising and film & television licensing teams at music services boutique Secret Road. She is now marrying those experiences and serving the members of ASCAP, where she helps composers, songwriters and creators find the tools they need to create robust careers and keep money in their pockets.

Mama, I'm going home.

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