Father & Daughter Film Report

We met Nathan Felix at the San Antonio film festival where we were totally impressed with the textures, sounds & effects in the innovative Sci-Fi piece Hard Reset.  Here's his take on some questions we threw at him:

1.)   How did you come about making music for film?

 During SXSW in like 2007 or 2008 a young filmmaker, Juan Carlos Pineiro Escoriaza, saw my band, The Noise Revival Orchestra play and put a song of ours in his film.  He and others said my music had a cinematic element to it.  I went from writing songs to learning how to write for strings and then orchestra. 

2.)   What skills are needed in film compositions that are different than commercial or pop music?

Patience.  There are so many variables that make a scene come to life so finding space in that scene is essential.  Early on I had a tendency to over arrange and show my skill set but I learned the focus is not the music.  Often I think when the music doesn’t stick out, that’s a good sign. 


A wonderful example of Nathan's film scoring (as well as interesting visuals & storyline) can be seen in Hard Reset

Which composers/films influenced 
your work? 
It changes all the time. I first had a thing forr Bernard Herrmann and I wanted to do big sweeping passages like he did.  
Then I got into John Carpenter and Wendy Carlos.  In particular, The Thing and The Shining.  

4.)   How has film music changed since you entered the film industry?

There are a lot more films being made with the continued growth of the indie film pockets around the world so there is more opportunity to get your feet wet and then some.  Also, very few directors want that big Hollywood cinematic sound so a lot of “non” trained musicians are called on. 

5.)   Who are your major influences in music in general?

I grew up really exploring Pet Sounds and London Calling and I still love those records.  I really love Brian Wilson as a composer and arranger as well as Mick Jones, especially his work on Rat Patrol from Ft. Bragg, which never saw the light of day!  I also really dig the Polish composer Henryk Gorecki and some of Popol Vuh’s early work with Werner Herzog. 

6.)   What is the future of film composition?

 I’m really bad at predicting things but I guess music goes hand in hand with film so I think music will change based on how film changes.  You see a lot of “indie-rock” artists being asked to write scores so maybe a mix of orchestra mixed with singer-songwriter?  

Behind the scenes with Nathan, score editor Mike Lanci & musicians all working together to hit the right note at the right moment...

7.)   What do you try to achieve musically in your film compositions?

A vibe. I like to think directors that come to me like how I stylize what I create.  I focus on sound quite a bit rather than notes.  

8.)   What advice would you give one entering into film composition?

Record instruments and play around with mic placements on amps and instruments.  With plugins and sample beds readily available I think learning how to track to create your unique sound can help set you apart from other composers.  Also learn how to play and understand as many instruments as possible.  That way you can communicate with players and sometimes even chip in on a session.    

Photo by Josh Huskin

9.)   What advice would you give yourself back when you were starting out?

Intern more frequently and earlier.  I now know the benefit of learning from those you want to emulate, so nudging myself to not be insecure about interning or even afraid would have been nice. 

10.)   Anything you want to add that I’m not asking here…?

-       Yes, check out my music at myspace dot com, backslash …. just kidding!