On Monday night, two of Showtime’s most talented composers, Sean Callery and Daniel Licht participated in the Society of Composers and Lyricists (SCL) panel “An Evening with Showtime Composers.” The panel was moderated by SCL member and established composer, Craig Stuart Garfinkle, and was presented in collaboration with Showtime, ASCAP, BMI and CW3PR. The event was held at the American Film Institute’s Mark Goodson Screening Room in Los Angeles, and was filled with an audience of musicians, composers, singers and television enthusiasts.
Sean Callery (Showtime’s “Homeland“) began the evening by discussing how he got started composing for television by working with Mark Snow. Garfinkle then moved on to discuss scoring for “24: Live Another Day,” and asked Callery how he stays calm during such an intense production schedule. Callery shook his head and said, “I don’t work on it after 7 p.m.” During Callery’s live composing demonstration, he took the audience through his work process for “Homeland,” noting that the music in the show doesn’t need to be used overtly, but as a tool to convey the emotions and beats of each scene.
Daniel Licht (Showtime’s “Dexter“) then discussed his work on “Dexter” and Sundance Channel’s “The Red Road.” For “Dexter,” he showed a behind-the-scenes video of how he used interesting objects as instruments, such as an actual human femur bone, chains, a saw, etc., to create the eerie sounds behind America’s favorite serial killer. Garfinkle asked Licht to describe his first composing job, and Dan said, “NYU student film….Lesbian vampire-themed.” The crowd laughed, and an audience member shouted, “Let’s see that one!”
The two composers then came together on stage to surprise the audience and play a beautiful and original composition written by Licht for “Dexter.” The crowd was so thrilled to be able to see such an impromptu performance, including two of televisions most well-known composers. The panelists then bantered with each other, and answered questions from the engaged audience. Both composers elaborated on how they find the “that’s it” sound, as well as their favorite television shows from this year.
Regarding how he finds his sound, Callery noted “That’s the amazing thing about TV deadlines…It’s amazing how good of a choice you can make when you have an hour.” When asked about what advice they would give aspiring composers, Licht said, “My best advice is to come up with an original sound. Make sure that you have a sound that’s distinctive and doesn’t sound like anyone else.“