CFDb Interviews John William Doryk
= > How/Why did you get involved with composing?
I come from a very musical family with a deep Ukranian heritage. As a child, I grew up learning Ukranian folk melodies and Ukranian Orthodox church music which is very beautiful, haunting, and often acappela. In elementary and through middle school, I was trained in operatic voice, classical violin and guitar and sang and played with orchestras, boys choir, in both sacred and secular performances. In high school, I discovered popular music and played in progressive rock bands(self taught on kbds), bluegrass(learned fiddle), hard rock(learned electric guitar), and even produced a reggae and rap artist for a while.
So you can see my musical tastes were very diverse. I always wondered why the Lord would have me be so diverse in my musical interests until I went to my first film composer workshop and realized that to compose music for film, one must be able to embrace many different styles in their writing and be able to seamlessly transition from style to style. That’s when I realized what I was destined to be. I think, ultimately, the combinations of learning structure and order from classical and the ability to improvise, on the fly, that I learned playing in rock bands, prepared me well for this career.
= > What is your specialty?
When people ask me that, relative to music, it’s a little hard to explain, considering all the musical influences I have exposed myself to, over the years. I guess I would sum it up with, “I specialize in creating evocative music that underscores dramatic scenes for motion picture, television, and radio”.
= > Do you compose soundtracks for Christian movies? If yes, please name 1 or 2
Yes, I do. 25 plus years ago, I really didn’t. Most of the work I did was for secular network television only because that was the kind of work available to me. Now, the culture(and technology) has changed and I probably do about a 60/40 balance of Christian/Secular projects.
Some recent Christian movies I have scored would include “For The Glory” by 1Voice Films, “Click Clack Jack” by Good Path Media, and “Pawn’s Move” by CV Productions.
= > What is the difference between a composer and sound designer?
A composer creates the music and musical elements for the soundtrack that emotionally underscores a dramatic, narrative story using musical tools(sheet music, computers, etc), virtual instruments, session, players, ensembles, orchestras, etc.
A sound designer is involved in creating and manipulating almost every other aspect of the soundtrack including dialogue editing, ADR(atomic dialogue replacement), sound effects creation and editing, foley, and often, final mix of all sound elements(including music) for the feature film. Ultimately, both crafts originate from the creative spirit of the artist themselves. Meaning, these tools and techniques don’t create the soundtrack, the composer and sound designer do.
= > What is the most famous movie you’ve composed for?
A few years ago, I won Gold at the Park City Film Music Festival for my scoring work(along with Emmy award composers Larry Brown and Alan Lindgren) on the PBS series “For Love of Liberty: The Story of America’s Black Patriots” directed by Frank Martin and featuring Halle Berry, Morgan Freeman, Samuel Jackson, Alan Rickman, and General Colin Powell. It covered the history of America’s black patriots from the 1600s through the Gulf War and was a great honor to be part of.
= > What is the latest soundtrack that you are working on?
Currently, I am scoring a documentary called “Rachel’s Challenge” that traces the legacy of Rachel Scott, the first victim of the Columbine Massacre.
= > Tell us about the award(s) you’ve won?
I have won ADDY awards, Telsa awards, “Gold” at the Park City Film Music Festival and have had my music submitted for Emmy nomination consideration .
= > How long have you had your own company?
I have been a professional film composer and sound designer for over 26 years.
= > How can others find out more about you and your work?
= > What is the process for a company to hire you to compose something?
This business is very much based on relationships and networking. Usually, a director/producer will approach me either at a conference, through social networking on the internet, or a personal reference after they have been to my website. I usually then request a copy of their screenplay, treatment, or if they are at this stage, rough cut or final cut of the film.
If I can see myself scoring for this film, I will usually offer to create an audition cue for a single scene from the film. This allows the director to get a true glimpse of how my music would work in their film and for me to see how the director functions and works with me. Of course, if I’m working with an established client, these steps might be substantially modified. If everything, from the audition side, works well for both the director and myself, then we sign contracts and the real work begins.
= > Do you have any advice for anyone who might be interested in becoming a composer or sound designer?
Like most career paths in film, getting into the career of film composing is a very difficult and time consuming process. The words of advice I would give an aspiring film composer would be:
1)Never stop honing your craft – the day you think you’re “good enough” or have nothing left to learn is the day you should find something else to do. Keep working on your craft, keep learning, keep listening to others who have more experience and their works.
2)To be a film composer you must love film as much as you love music. Although a director is not required to know anything about your craft, make it a rule to know as much as possible about their craft.
3)Be as much of a businessman(woman) as you are an artist. Learn how to network, negotiate, administrate, and delegate for these skills will not only make you more valuable, they’ll get you work.
4) Never give up. The main reason most talented composers(sound designers, directors, actors, producers, graphic artists, etc) don’t succeed is because they give up too soon. If this is something you truly love, understand that it will take anywhere from 8-12 years to “break in” and as much as another 10 years to become “established”. Obviously there are exceptions to every rule, but the point is still valid. Keep working at your craft, develop a tough skin, and don’t give up. Oh yeah, internships can do wonders for your career as well.
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