It turns out film composing is quite literally a fulltime occupation.
In the middle of The Hollywood Reporter’s roundtable discussion with awards season’s top composers, Mychael Danna (Life of Pi) admitted he was trying to finish a melody in his head — even though he was engaged in the conversation.
“You go to sleep and you do work in your dream. It never stops,” he said.
Alexandre Desplat, who composed for films such as Zero Dark Thirty and Argo, said the deadline-heavy job is difficult on loved ones. He conceded that perhaps he and his fellow composers were workaholics in the same sense that “any artist, painter or writer” is.
But Frankenweenie and Silver Linings Playbook composer Danny Elfman said he was absolutely not a workaholic, because he doesn’t actually love to work.
“If I have nothing to do, I don't go to work. I love watching old movies on television or reading a book. But we have deadlines,” Elfman said. “If that takes away all of your time, if that sucks you up, I don’t think that makes you a workaholic.”
Danna observed it’s best of a composer’s significant other hangs out with the partners of other composers, so “they’ll understand that it’s not just you.”
“It takes so much to do and we all are here because we’re looking for perfection, we’re looking for the very best thing we can,” Danna said of his colleagues. “There’s just no other way except time. There’s no shortcut. … Something has to give, and it’s the personal life.”
In addition to maestros mentioned above, THR’s composer roundtable also included Marco Beltrami (The Sessions), Patrick Doyle (Brave) and Fernando Velazquez (The Impossible). The conversation was moderated by THR international news editor Kevin Cassidy and music editor Shirley Halperin.
Watch the full, uncensored interview here.