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They Shoot, He Scores

Emmy Winner Larry Groupé Shares His Secrets



Larry Groupé is hard to pin down. He has conducted a 60-piece orchestra for the British prog rock band Yes, he's produced, conducted, and composed over 80 albums, won three Emmy's and, in becoming director Rod Lurie's composer of choice, created the score for Deterrence, a 1999 intense French-America thriller.

On Sunday, April 19, in the first-ever collaboration between BendFilm, COCC, Sunriver Music Festival, and Central Oregon Symphony, Groupé will discuss his process for film composing at COCC's Wille Hall.

Source Weekly: Do you like having more of a structure to work towards and having the director collaborate with you intensely, or do you prefer to watch an early cut of the film and run with it from your own emotions?

Larry Groupé: I would say the latter. Especially when I can see the script before they start to shoot anything because that is a great time to start. It can start a dialogue with the director. I like responding just from a script level about what strikes me as far as a character or a location, but I'll often write a theme or two at that point. Then I'll have to wait until they really do shoot something so I can see if the idea will work when I actually see a rough cut.

SW: Right.

LG: Then, if all is right, great, I'll continue with that, or restart it and try something else at an early stage. But as far as a collaboration with a director, of course I sit down and go over everything in an early stage. We'll do something called a spotting session where we go "we don't want it here," or "maybe we want it here" and we get a list of areas where we think music should play a role. So, that's as far as the collaboration goes from my side because I usually go back and ponder what to do about it. The better filmmakers out there are the ones that give the composer not very much direction at all. My discussions with the director should always be about the emotional content of the project we're doing. That's all I care about. That's all the director should care about. It's always about the emotional bottom-line.

SW: Do you find those early moments of looking at the script and seeing it through a filmmaker's eyes the most rewarding for you, or is it waiting and seeing the final product?

LG: No, it's the first part of that. That's the hardest part. Each project is kind of like a puzzle and I have to find a solution to the puzzle. Once I do that (or hopefully do that), then I can build on that, like any compositional process would go. So the first part's the most intriguing, it's the most frustrating, it's the part that takes the longest so I get a lot of satisfaction in thinking about what a film or a TV show needs musically.

Larry Groupé: Composing for Hollywood Films

Sunday, April 19, 3 pm

COCC Wille Hall


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