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Toronto: CFC Program Trains Aspiring Composers to Score Like Pros

The CFC's inaugural music residency brings local musicians and Hollywood A-listers together.

Normally Canadians connect the words “He shoots, he scores” with hockey. But now, thanks to the Canadian Film Center’s Slaight Music Residency, four local composers and songwriters are learning how to score a movie.

They’ll be instructed on how to combine music and images by some of the best, including Oscar winners Mychael Danna and Howard Shore, with visits to Hollywood soundstages thrown into the mix.

PHOTOS: The Scene at the Toronto Film Festival 2013

“It was a dream come true for someone like me to be around people like that. It’s the hardest thing to have contact with people of that caliber,” says Todor Kobakov, a resident of the inaugural music composing lab.

Canadian singer-songwriter Chantal Kreviazuk, a CFC music lab mentor, says the program aims to open doors to enable future film-composing gigs for emerging artists in what ultimately is a very relationship-oriented business.

“When you lend structure to things, it makes it easier. It’s not comfortable to come at people directly. We’re human beings. We don’t want to feel like a product for people,” says Kreviazuk, whose songs have been heard on Dawson’s Creek and the 2005 release The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.

Canadian composer Christophe Beck, who works out of a studio in Santa Monica, also made the case for music creators when giving a master class for filmmakers at the CFC.

PHOTOS: The Scene at the Toronto Film Festival 2013

Says Beck: “It’s a process of education, to try to teach filmmakers the value of music and the value of setting aside enough money so that the music doesn’t become an afterthought, or the part of the budget that you steal from during production.”

Toronto native Shore, whose work with Peter Jackson on The Lord of the Rings trilogy earned him three Academy Awards and who is a longtime collaborator of David Cronenberg’s, says he told a CFC master class that music, like other creative endeavors, needs a “Goldilocks quality” in a movie: not too hot, not too cold.

“If you want to make a good film,” says Shore, “all of the parts of the film need to be balanced.”