Where are you currently employed?
NBC Universal in New York City.
Describe Your Job.
My job at 30 Rock doesn't really stop at the traditional boundaries of the title music editor. In addition to the standard duties of the job––conforming music to new cuts, temping scenes, doing cue sheets––I am also the co-arranger for the show and contribute arrangements and compositions. I play all the guitar-family instruments you hear on 30 Rock.
I attend all mixes with a laptop containing all our composition MIDI sessions and instrumental samples. This allows us to re-open, re-arrange and re-bounce any part of the score right there on the mixing stage. It's great to have the flexibility to adjust the score on “musical terms” at the mix, besides having all the tools possessed by our brilliant mixer, Tony Pipitone
How did you become interested in this line of work?
I got to work with music editors Jennifer Dunnington and Tass Filipos on some earlier projects, and I saw the huge role they got to play on some very good films. I wanted to give that a shot. In general, though, I am interested in contributing to good music in any way I can––be it as a composer, arranger, performer or music editor.
Who gave you your first break?
Lenny Pickett, music director for Saturday Night Live. He hired me as a copyist right after college. I met him in a venue where I was working as a stagehand. I carried some of his cases and we struck up a conversation––about music copying of all things. Later on, he introduced me to Howard Shore, and then to Jeff Richmond, and they have been my main professional relationships for over 10 years now.
What was your first union job?
My first local 700 job was 30 Rock. My first union job was through a local 802 job with the musicians union New York City; that was Saturday Night Live.
Which of your credits or projects have made you the most proud and why?
I am awfully proud of the music on 30 Rock. It's newly composed by Jeff Richmond for each episode. I think his choices are always so fresh and make such a strong contribution to the comedy. I have been able to work on some other really wonderful projects, and those include The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Gangs of New York, The Aviator, A History of Violence and The Departed. I am proud to be a part of all of these projects.
What was your biggest challenge in your job (or on a particular project) and how did you overcome/solve it?
The biggest challenge is always maintaining a high level of quality and creativity when faced with extremely little time. You overcome it by sleeping less. I don't have just one challenge. I think every project I've done has become daunting at one point or another.
What was the most fun you’ve had at work?
Every time we go into a recording studio to record live musicians for a special musical number on 30 Rock is a blast. It’s happened a few times over the years, but the one that sticks out most is the "Kidney Now" multi-artist music video that ends Season 3. It was shot in one day with artists like Elvis Costello, Mary J. Blige, Sheryl Crow, Norah Jones, Michael McDonald, the Beastie Boys and Steve Earle.
We had to record all of these stars on the 30 Rock set, comp and edit the track during a lunch break, and then shoot the video well into the night. It was wild, but really great fun. Then we went to Avatar Studios a few days later and added a full string section to that!
Jobwise, what do you hope to be doing five years from now?
I hope to be scoring films and TV.
What are your outside activities, hobbies, passions?
Cooking, drinking wine and taking walks with my daughter and wife. Playing guitar in different projects, scoring films and writing music for my friends whenever they need some.
Favorite movie(s)? Why?
Right now a favorite is Roman Polanski’s Chinatown. I bought it on iTunes and can pop to it on my laptop whenever there is time. It's a great story and a great score by Jerry Goldsmith. I really love classic noir film scores, and somehow Goldsmith managed to make one that is based in the tradition while still sounding new, like himself.
Another film I love, and watch again and again, is Spike Lee's 25th Hour. It has great music by Terrence Blanchard, and it really captures the feeling of New York City, and the lives of people who grew up here, as I did. I love movies that can do that.
Favorite TV Program(s)? Why?
30 Rock, because it's hilarious. I like to watch it with people and get their fresh reactions to it. It's fun to see them laugh at the show, and it's always revealing to see what works (and what doesn't) in the room. I have been happy to find different cable channels playing Twin Peaks at random times. That show has to be my all time favorite, and of course the music is so awesome!
I am getting into this show called Party Down––very funny and well written. I like watching political shows on MSNBC, especially Morning Joe because my daughter wakes me up these days at 6:00 am.
Do you have an industry mentor?
At this point, it would be Jeff Richmond. I have worked with him since season one of 30 Rock and have learned an unbelievable amount about this craft. He worked a lot as a director at Second City and other places, and he has this innate sense of what the scene needs, while never going with what would be the obvious musical choice. I often don't know where he is going with the score for an episode, and then all of a sudden it makes sense and the show is at this whole new level. A really remarkable composer.
What advice would you offer to someone interested in pursuing your line of work?
Approach each early project you get as if it were your dream job. Give it that much effort and creativity. Pretty soon you will be getting dream jobs.
Was there ever a circumstance when you had to rely on the Guild for help or assistance?
Not yet, thankfully.
Is there anything you’d like to say to your fellow Guild members, some words of encouragement?
There is great work being done by people in all sectors of the Guild. It's a great pleasure to watch your work, and an even greater pleasure to work with you.
- Compiled by Robin Rowe
Editor’s Note: This column profiles Editors Guild members in good standing. To recommend a member for the column––even yourself––contact Robin Rowe at firstname.lastname@example.org.