I am a film composer and screenwriter based in Baltimore, Maryland. I love to incorporate hip hop, orchestral, atmospheric and ambient styles in my music. My writing often touches on social issues, which are important to me. I grew up in Baltimore, surrounded by both positive and negative things. My view of the world was drastically changed at a young age. To cope with the challenging and dangerous surroundings, I turned to music and writing. I have worked for artist around the world, from New York to Switzerland. Recently, I have received recognition for my music in the animated feature film Grey Island, written and animated by Dan Ekis. Over the years, I have worked with successful directors and companies, such as Harry Owens, FlyingEyes Media, and Steve Yeager. I take pride in using my platform and skills to reach a broader audience and inspire those who were or are in a situation that may seem impossible to get away from. I hope to continue to impact others and grow as a writer, composer, and activist.
1. When did your dream of becoming a filmmaker begin?
I started writing stories and scripts when I was in middle school. I would watch American soap operas and continue where they would leave off or create an entirely different storyline for characters. I would say that was when I dreamed of becoming a screenwriter. I wanted to write meaningful stories without the typical outlandish flair. I did not think of becoming a composer until my early twenties. I always enjoyed music but did not think there was an opportunity for me to have my music in films or TV. After listening to the score that Bear McCreary did of Battlestar Galactica, I was so inspired and awestruck. I can do that! I want to do that. And so I did.
2. Why have you chosen the medium of composing?
Composing is therapeutic to me. Music has always helped me stay in control and cope with the things life throws at me. Scoring films and TV is just an extension of that. I want my music to be able to inspire and impact those around me from all walks of life. What better way to do that but through film and TV?
3. What has been your greatest achievement as a composer?
Definitely getting my music played on the radio. The fact that my music is being listened to by hundreds is unbelievable. I am so thankful. The thought of my scores inspiring listeners and aspiring filmmakers around the world because of this radio station is wonderful.
4. Tell us a little about the process for making In Madness.
Scoring In Madness was a quick process. The Director, Harry Owens, contacted me about his psychological drama. I instantly was on board. Psychological dramas are my favorite pieces to score! Over the course of a month, we exchanged notes and I began scoring the film. I actually did character breakdowns and analysis so I could get a thorough feel for each character and their motivations. I worked till the early hours, honestly, just enjoying the film and scoring. This was the first film that I added my sound design skills too, so it was extra special to me! I had a blast scoring it and working with such a professional. It was also the first film I scored that landed in the Los Angeles International Film Festival, alongside films starring Robin Wright and Leslie Bibb!
5. Tell us a little about the process of making Grey Island.
Grey Island was my very first film credit. Dan Ekis (Animator and Writer) contacted me about three years ago. I looked at his work and to be honest, I couldn't understand why he wanted me. Here was this phenomenal filmmaker and I, a person from Baltimore with an AA degree. Thankfully, he didn't listen to my doubts. We worked on Grey Island for a couple of years, making sure the music, sound design and animation panels were in top shape. We went through notes and scene breakdowns together to really make the music, story and development shine.
6. What are you currently working on?
I am currently finishing up two solo albums. One is an atmospheric folk album, inspired by the talented Einar Selvic of Wardruna. While the other is a hip-hop based album that touches on social issues such as sexism, racism, and class.
I am also working on a pilot script, two features and a play that I hope to bring to life soon.
7. Where do you hope to see yourself in five years’ time?
Maybe in New York, working on another play or musical. Maybe in LA scoring or maybe writing for soaps or teaching in Korea. I have a lot of goals I would like to accomplish, but one thing is for sure I want to be happy, successful and open.
8. What has been the greatest lesson you've learned during this journey?
Learn to say no. I learned that if I am uncomfortable or do not feel like the client is taking my work and craft seriously, I can say no. For a while, I felt that I didn't deserve the choice to say yes or no. I felt that any opportunity was something I needed to grab. However, as I get older and as I progress in my career, I am realizing that it is okay to walk away. It is okay to value your work.
9. Finally, if you could share some words of wisdom for a young filmmaker just starting out, what would you say?
Take a break! As someone who has dealt with grief, severe depression and bipolar, I know how hard it is to get up in the morning, let alone write a script or film something. Sometimes, you need to take a break. Whether it is going out for a jog or just taking a few days or even a month to mentally regroup. It is great to focus on your work and yes it feels good when you are banging out a 60-page script at 3:00 am or shooting a film in less than 48 hours, but all of your talent and skill will be useless if you end up burning out. If you feel like your passion is starting to become a chore, it is okay to take a minute and step away for a while. Mental Health is SO important, especially if you are in a creative field such as film.
Learn everything you can. This doesn't mean you have to go to college or intern with Hanz Zimmer or Whedon. You can learn and mature just by listening, watching and reading. Whether you are a composer, filmmaker, writer or even a lighting designer, learning from other professions is something that will help you greatly. A few years ago, I took an acting class at a local theatre. I am very soft spoken so taking this class was a bit overwhelming, but it not only taught me about how to write for actors, but it gave me strength and confidence which I applied to when going to meetings or pitching.
One last bit of advice.
If you are just starting out, please remember you will not be the top tier filmmaker. You have to work for it. You are going to fall. Even the big names in Hollywood fall sometimes. The key is to grow. Take constructive criticism and turn it into a learning experience. YOU have a voice and the world needs to hear it. So, go out and make mistakes. Go and do something you love. Make terrible movies you'll laugh about in a few years. Write crappy dialogue you cringe about at night. But learn why it is bad and find out how you can do better.
Value your work. Do not undersell yourself. Your voice is important and it is valuable.