Herrmann, Bernstein, Goldsmith & McCreary


It's not the name of a Century City law firm, but as a group, they are powerful advocates for the art that is, along with jazz and rock 'n' roll, one of the three most important musical forms of the last hundred years. 

And why is that "upstart" Bear McCreary featured alongside the titans of the film scoring trade? A taut little thriller called 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE, released in March of this year by Paramount and Bad Robot and under the wing of J.J. Abrams is why. Remarkably, it doesn't reveal itself as a "sci-fi thriller" until deep into its final act, and when it does, McCreary's score moves seamlessly along with it, aiding and abetting the shift in perspective and genre as powerfully as any score in recent memory. This hat trick wouldn't have been possible if the score had not already had us in its thrall for 80 minutes or more. On many levels, both the film and the score recall the impact of THE SIXTH SENSE.

Check out this cue, titled 'Michelle' after the film's intrepid protagonist (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), who, backed by John Goodman's character, Howard, is on screen for nearly every frame of the picture. The nod to Messrs. Herrmann and Goldsmith is open and gracious, but McCreary's work here is no knock-off. It's truly in the lineage of the masters. 


For more than ten years, as a teacher of film composers, I have challenged my students with scenes and sequences of almost claustrophobic interiority with the simple but Zen-like instruction, "Get inside that."  (Otherwise, all that many of them would want to do is write main title themes!) Contemporary film music, from Herrmann on--and particularly in the present era--is about scoring from the inside of the picture. That doesn't mean scoring small, or creating "wallpaper." It means getting under the skin of it and making creative synergy with the film's look and overall soundscape. Music plays an above-the-line role in 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE as much as Winstead and Goodman do, but it is always inside the movie.

McCreary blogged extensively and generously about his experience in scoring the picture here:


The man he cites as his mentor, Elmer Bernstein, would have been proud.