COMPOSING A BLOCKBUSTER:
Featuring The Jungle Book's John Debney
Interviewed by Richard Kraft
(The Bill Bordy Media Conference Room)
3:15pm - 4:00pm
with John Debney ('The Jungle Book', 'Ice Age: Collision Course', 'Iron Man 2')
and Richard Kraft (Kraft-Engel Management)
Join Richard Kraft as he interviews composer John Debney on the current state of music in media for composers, and learn about the behind the scenes when scoring the recent hit 'The Jungle Book'.
John Debney is the ultimate film music character actor. In equal demand for family films like Elf as he is for adventure films like Iron Man 2, the Oscar-nominated composer also scored the poignantly brutal The Passion of the Christ. Debney is an agile jack-of-all-genres, composing for comedies (Bruce Almighty), sci-fi action (Predators), horror (Dream House) and romance (Valentine’s Day) with the same confidence and panache. Debney is also known for his work in such films as Princess Diaries, Sin City, Liar Liar, Spy Kids, No Strings Attached, The Emperor’s New Groove, I Know What You Did Last Summer and Hocus Pocus. Debney’s most recent work includes the Paramount Pictures’ animated comedy The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water, the critically acclaimed miniseries, Texas Rising, Disney’s The Jungle Book directed by Jon Favreau, Fox’s Ice Age: Collision Course, directed by Mike Thurmeier, and the action fantasy, League of Gods starring Jet Li.
Born in Glendale, California, Debney’s professional life began after he studied composition at the California Institute of the Arts, when he went to work writing music and orchestrating for Disney Studios and various television series. He won his first Emmy in 1990 for the main theme for The Young Riders, and his career soon hit a gallop. Since then he has won three more Emmys (Sea Quest DSV), and been nominated for a total of six (most recently in 2012 for his work on the Kevin Costner western miniseries Hatfields & McCoys). His foray into videogame scoring—2007’s Lair—resulted in a BAFTA nomination and a Best Videogame Score award from The International Film Music Critics Association.
Debney has collaborated with acclaimed directors as diverse as Robert Rodriguez, Garry Marshall, Mel Gibson, the Farrelly Brothers, Jon Favreau, Jim Sheridan, Ivan Reitman, Peter Chelsom, Rob Cohen, Brian Robbins, Tom Shadyac, Sam Raimi, Adam Shankman, Howie Deutch, Renny Harlin, Peter Hyams and Kenny Ortega. He was nominated by the Academy for his Passion of the Christ score (which he adapted into a symphony that had a live performance in Rome), and in 2005 was the youngest recipient of ASCAP’s Henry Mancini Career Achievement Award.
“If I’m doing my job well,” says Debney, “I need to feel it. I really try to make sure that whatever I’m doing— even if it’s a comedy—that I’m feeling it and feeling either humor or the pathos or the dramatic impact of what I’m seeing. That’s the way I approach it.”
Richard Kraft is the co-owner of Kraft-Engel Management, one of the world’s leading agencies specializing in representing film, theatre, television and video game composers, songwriters and music supervisors. Their clients include Danny Elfman, Alexandre Desplat, Alan Menken, John Powell, Jon Brion, Marco Beltrami, John Debney, Christophe Beck, Henry Jackman, Christopher Lennertz, Marc Shaiman, Bear McCreary, Rob Simonsen and Mark Isham.
Richard and his partner Laura Engel are also the producers of stage productions and live film music concert experiences including Danny Elfman’s Music From The Films of Tim Burton which had its premiere at Royal Albert Hall and has toured around the world. Richard was also the creative director and producer of the highly acclaimed Disney’s The Little Mermaid in Concert at The Hollywood Bowl. Richard and Laura produced the Emmy Award-winning PBS broadcast Live From Lincoln Center – Danny Elfman’s Music From the Films of Tim Burton and Danny Elfman Halloween at The Hollywood Bowl – Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas In Concert – Live to Film which sold out The Hollywood Bowl two nights in a row on October 31st and November 1st, 2015 and is returning this Halloween weekend. Additionally, they executive produced the historic Danny Elfman & Tim Burton 25th Anniversary Music Box which received a Grammy nomination for Best Box Set.
Richard is also directing and producing the upcoming concerts A Whole New World of Alan Menken debuting at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts and Evil Dead Live in Concert: A Halloween Experience premiering at The Theatre at Ace Hotel.
Prior to starting his own company in 1991, Richard was an agent at ICM and started his career working with several of his musical heroes such as Jerry Goldsmith, Elmer Bernstein and Henry Mancini. Kraft once ran Varese-Sarabande Records where he executive produced over 150 soundtrack albums. His award-winning feature-length documentary, Finding Kraftland played at over 75 film festivals around the world.