|Interview with John Debney
Composer of Iron Man 2, Predators, Sin City 3, Old Dogs, Meet Dave,
Hannah Montana: The Movie, Barnyard, Sin City, Bruce Almighty and
Disneyland Paris (Phantom Manor) and Walt Disney World Florida (Spectromagic)
May 20, 2009
Award-winning film composer John Debney sets the tone for Disney's Hannah Montana: The Movie. Debney grew up in a very «Disney» family, as the son of Disney Studios’ producer Louis Debney (Zorro, The Mickey Mouse Club). This is not Debney’s first time working on a Disney film, having scored The Princess Diaries 1 & 2; his music was featured on the platinum selling soundtrack.
Debney has built a reputation for delivering exceptional scores for a wide variety of films, from his Academy Award nominated score to Passion of the Christ, to the fun-filled, family film Hotel for Dogs.
Last year, Debney set the tone to the dramatic film (adapted from the New York Times best seller) The Stoning of Soraya M., which received critical acclaim at the 2008 Toronto International Film Festival.
Debney will be honored next month with a Career Achievement Award at the Burbank International Film Festival, and a medley of his scores will be performed at the opening of the festival.
In 2010, Debney’s score to Passion of the Christ will be performed in Saint Peter’s Square (the Vatican), with a 500 voice choir and a full orchestra.
PRINCESS DIARIES 1 & 2, and RAISING HELEN; for Tom Shadyac, he scored
|(Hollywood, CA) Award-winning composer JOHN DEBNEY scores Disney’s HANNAH MONTANA: THE MOVIE, directed by Peter Chelsom. The family comedy stars Miley Cyrus, alongside her dad Billy Ray Cyrus. Debney created a new love theme for the film and integrated the score with Miley’s songs to create a unified sound throughout the film. He wove the song tracks and score to play simultaneously, creating a seamless marriage between the two. Debney’s approach to the score is rural and contemporary. Debney wrote the orchestral arrangement to «Butterfly Fly Away,» performed by Miley and Billy Ray Cyrus, written by the Grammy-winning songwriting team of Glen Ballard and Alan Silvestri. Next month at the Burbank International Film Festival, Debney will be honored with the Career Achievement Award, and a medley of his scores will be performed at the opening of the festival. HANNAH MONTANA: THE MOVIE will be in theatres April 10; the soundtrack will be released on March 24.
Recently Debney completed the score to another family, fun-filled film, HOTEL FOR DOGS. Last year, Debney set the tone to the dramatic film THE STONING OF SORAYA M. (adapted from the New York Times best seller), which received critical acclaim at the 2008 Toronto International Film Festival. Currently Debney is scoring the latest Eddie Murphy comedy, A THOUSAND WORDS. His other credits include THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST, for which he received an Oscar nomination; IDLEWILD, a Prohibition-era musical starring the duo Outkast and featuring famed trumpeter Arturo Sandoval; the animated films BARNYARD and CHICKEN LITTLE; the comic-book inspired SIN CITY, and the comedies ELF and LIAR, LIAR.
Debney’s ability to deliver the perfect score in a wide variety of films has made him one of the most sought after composers in Hollywood, leading him to work with several directors multiple times. For Garry Marshall, Debney scored the black comedy, GEORGIA RULE,
BRUCE ALMIGHTY and EVAN ALMIGHTY.
In addition to an Academy Award nomination, John Debney has received several Emmy awards, a Dove award for THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST, a CUE award for the score to the videogame LAIR and several gold and platinum selling albums, including THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST and THE PRINCESS DIARIES. Debney was the youngest recipient of the ASCAP Henry Mancini Award for Career Achievement, and has conducted concerts of his music with orchestras throughout the United States and Europe.
In HANNAH MONTANA: THE MOVIE, Hannah Montana's popularity begins to take over her life. Miley Stewart (Miley Cyrus), at the urging of her father (Billy Ray Cyrus), takes a trip to her hometown of Crowley Corners, Tennessee to get perspective on what matters the most in life.
Mister John Debney, please may you tell us more about your relationship with your father, Louis Debney. In what way did he inspire you in your career?
My father was a long time Disney producer. I grew up in the Disney family and I guess it was a natural that I'd follow my dad into the business. My dad was a wonderful guy and I must've developed a fascination for the business at an early age through him.
Please may you tell us how did you start playing, studying and composing music? How did you start working with Disney, what did it bring you personally and professionally working for Disney, and how your work evolves with time? And what about DreamWorks experience?
I started playing guitar at an early age. My mom played the guitar and encouraged me to take lessons. This was during the Hootenanny craze of the 60's and we'd spend hours playing folk songs popular at the time. From here I started playing with all kinds of rock bands during the 70's and early 80's. After graduating college, I got a position in the Disney music prep dept and shortly there-after started to orchestrate music for the Disney theme parks and television shows. After a few years at Disney I ventured out on my own and began a long career in television music. In the early 90's I was able to start working more and more in feature films and have been doing so ever since. I first worked for DreamWorks doing a television show for Steven Spielberg called «Sea Quest». I enjoyed working with DreamWorks on a number of films over the years.
Louis Debney, father of John Debney
and Walt Disney Studios producer
May you describe your score for "Hannah Montana": -regarding the series, the orchestra, the influence of the score with the songs, did you use themes, the time you had to compose, what requests, from whom…?
My job on «Hannah» was to integrate the songs and score into a unified whole. I used many of the themes from the various songs throughout the film and had fun marrying the songs with the score.
The director Peter Chelsom, wanted a «rural» sensibility yet not necessarily a «country» score. I was asked to compose a theme for the love story angle of the film and enjoyed writing a theme the highlighted this. The turn around time was short (Approx. 3 weeks) yet because of the great collaborative spirit of the director, we quickly found the right tone for the underscore.
May you tell us about your work for «Hotel For Dogs»? How did you approach this score, how would you describe it? May you tell us more about themes («Friday's Theme» to the grand «Hotel Theme»)
This was a big melodic score with quirky elements thrown in for the varied personalities of the various dogs. The producer and director wanted rich melodies and an adventurous tone. There were three primary themes: «Friday's Theme» (Our main dog); «The Hotel theme» (A theme describing the hotel and it's once wondrous glory) and finally the «Main Theme» which was an overall theme for the film.
May you describe a day of work? How do you manage to compose for all this movies?
The enjoyment comes for me in being able to create music for all types of films. One day a comedy, another day a more dramatic score. I guess you'd say I enjoy the variety of what I do. A day of work starts for me in my studio where I view the film and start to compose music for each scene. Some days are more successful than others and the music is created via trial and error. I enjoy what I do so I get inspired by the film itself and enjoy creating music that people will respond to.
Could you tell us more about the saga «Sin City»? How do you want to approach the sequels?
I hope the sequels happen! I would approach them the way we did the first film. Robert Rodriguez is such fun the work with and he sets the tone for the music himself. Robert is a gifted musician and we have a ball collaborating. Depending on the focus of the next one, I imagine we'll approach it in a similar way as the first film. I look forward to working on it!
If you could make 3 wishes?
I guess I'd wish most of all for world peace.
Then for the success of my three sons.
And then possibly just to continue doing what I do now, making music for the world to enjoy.
May we hope news concerts in Europe?
Yes, we have a major concert coming up in Rome 2010. Details will be coming soon....
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