GUY GROSS - THE GUY WITH THE MUSIC
As 1998 began, Guy Gross was busy scoring music to Skippy,
a 26 x ˝ hour children's series produced by his father Yoram
Gross: he had come full circle in 18 years, his first work as a
film composer having been to score the theme song for his
father’s feature film, Sarah. Since then, Gross has composed
music for many other filmmakers, and won many awards, as Andrew
L. Urban outlines in this profile.
There is a story Guy Gross tells which illustrates how little
composers are understood by many filmmakers. A producer (who
remains anonymous for his own sake) briefed him on a piece of
work he needed, and asked Gross how much it would cost to compose
the music. "I said I would have to see, but he insisted I
give him a price on the spot. So I thought about it for a while
and told him I thought it would end up at about $3,000. He turned
round and said to me, ‘Can’t afford that, I’ll
give you $30.’ I told him that was an insult, and I’ll
just do it for fun. Next day I turned up with a piece I’d
composed and he thought it was just what he wanted, so he turned
to his assistant and said, ‘Give the boy what he
"When people like that ask ‘How long does it
take?" says Gross, "I reply, about 15 years of training
Gross has used his training and experience in a vast variety
of ways, from feature films to jumping fountains in the Melbourne
casino. But he says the secret is to know where your strengths
lie. "We composers pride ourselves on having a broad range
of musical styles at ourfingertips, but I decline jobs where a
musical style would be too greatly compromised; for example, I
turn down scores that are beyond me. I love jazz, but it is not a
style I would write in."
He has written scores from "Indian-esque ambiance music
to orchestral works," and much in between.
When he started, composing for his father’s films –
many of them animated with live action backgrounds – Gross
had the added challenge of working not only with dad, but with a
musician to boot. (Yoram Gross is a passionate lover of piano.)
"It was good and bad," says Gross junior, "but in
the end we did get on well. I’m very lucky," he says of
the opportunity to start his career ‘at home’ as it
Of other film composers, Gross admires Morriconi most;
"he’s one of the gods – but then he does get good
films to work with." Gerry Goldsmith and Danny Elfman are
His golden rules for film composing are simple: the dialogue
must be clearly heard. "It’s a real craft to score
around dialogue," he explains, "yet do it so that the
music assists the scene. Many Australian filmmakers don’t
quite appreciate this as much as they should."
The other bugbear for composers, he says, is getting a fine-cut of a movie to which a carefully timed score is composed
– only to have the filmmakers go and recut the film and
dislocate the music.
In early 1998, audiences will hear Gross’ underscore in
the context of Stephan Elliott’s latest film, Welcome to
Woop Woop, which premiered in a longer version at the 1997 Cannes
film festival. He created a special, dark theme for the strange
little desert community of Woop Woop – to match its sinister
It’s his second Elliott film, after Frauds; working with
Elliott is "a composer’s worst nightmare - and best
dream. He knows so much about music yet he’s never learnt
formally. He’s one of the few Australian directors who
really knows what he’s doing with music. If he were a
composer, he’d be formidable."
THE FACTS ARE . . .
Guy Gross studied music composition at the Conservatorium High
School in Sydney, Australia under Edwin Carr. During that time he
began composing music for films and wrote songs for his father's
animated children's films. Using corporate movies and
documentaries as a training ground, Guy continued free-lance work
after completing his high school studies, whilst gradually building up his own recording studio.
Today Guy, along with partners Simon Leadley, Geoff Watson and
Tim Ryan, operates one of Sydney's finest recording studios,
Trackdown Digital Studios. Trackdown specialises in recording and
mixing audio and music for film, television and multimedia and
has recently completed the transition to an entirely digital
Although classically trained, Guy is as comfortable scoring
for synthesisers as he is for an 80 piece orchestra. In fact many
of his early documentaries were commissioned partly due to Guy's
ability to create a "live and organic" score entirely
using synthesisers. Guy's studio comprises primarily Kurzweil
synthesisers through to a Yamaha 02R and he uses Mark of The
Unicorns, Digital Performer 2.0 for sequencing.
In 1997, Guy completed a 20 minute orchestral score for the
new Crown Casino in Melbourne. This work is performed by the
Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and is part of a fixed installation
which performs 24 hours a day using lasers, fountains, and high
tech lights. The two other composers in this project were Chong
Lim and David Hirschfelder.
EDITED CAREER HIGHLIGHTS:
1971 Began Piano lessons, age 5.
1997/98 Skippy (26 x 30’ animated TV series),
Composer of Original Score.
1997/98 Welcome to Woop Woop (feature), (Composer of
1996/97 Fallen Angels (20 x 1hr TV Drama Series),
Composer of Original Score (ABC TV); Front Up (street
conversations, TV series) Composer of Theme Music. (SBS TV);
McLeod's Daughter (telemovie) Composer of Original Score( 9
1995 Bordertown (10 x 1hr Miniseries), Composer of
Original Score (ABC)
1994 The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert
(Feature),Composer of Original Score
1993 The Adventures of Blinky Bill (26 x 30’ TV
Series), Original Score & Songs
1992 Frauds (Feature), Composer of Original Score;
Blinky Bill (Feature), Composer of Original Score & Songs
1990 The Magic Riddle (Feature), Composer of Original
Score & Songs; Reach Out to the Children '91 (TV Special),
Composer of Original Score (World Vision)
1990 Neighbours (TV Serial), Composer of Additional
1988 Tall Ships (TV Documentary), Arranger/Producer of
Score. (Film Australia); The Last Great Cattle Drive (TV
Documentary), Composer of Original Score. (Film Australia)
1986 Dot and the Whale (Feature), Composer of Original
Score & Songs; Dot Goes to Hollywood (Feature); Composer of
Original Score & Songs.
1984 Dot and Keeto (Feature), Composer of Original
Score & Songs; Dot and the Smugglers (Feature), Composer of
Original Score & Songs.
1980 Sarah (Feature), Composer of Theme Song
MUSIC EXCERPTS [TOP]
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Film Composer/Music Producer
THE ADVENTURES OF PRISCILLA, QUEEN OF THE DESERT,
film which though known for the songs, had a nice score, too, for which Gross was nominated for a BAFTA award.
a 10 part television series on the ABC for which
Gross received an AGSC (Aust. Guild of Screen Composers) award for Best Music for a Series.
part of a 20 min orchestral composition which plays around the clock in the Atrium in the Mebourne Crown
Casino syncronised to smoke, lazers, lights and various water
fountains and jets.(Performed by the M.S.O.)
Gross - Guy's father (and fan)
family: Yoram, Guy, mother Sandra, and Guy's sister, Karen
Soundtrack from the TV
Series; CD and Cassette EMI/ABC Records (4798182)
THE PRISCILLA COMPANION.
& Original Score from the film; The Adventures of Priscilla,
Queen of the Desert: CD and Cassette. Polydor (5271152)
Songs Based on the TV
Series; CD and Cassette. EMI/ABC Records (512914-2)
Original Motion Picture
Soundtrack; CD Mushroom Records (PTR003)
SONGS FROM BLINKY BILL
Cassette. EMI/ABC Records (522512-2)
THE MAGIC RIDDLE SOUNDTRACK ALBUM
CD and Cassette. BMG Records (SPCD1212) (Also Single release
performed by Julie Anthony)
AWARDS & NOMINATIONS
Best Title Theme for a TV Series,
Serial or Mini Series: FRONT UP, SBS Awarded by the The
Australian Guild of Screen Composers
Best Music for a Television Series
or Serial. BORDERTOWN Ep 4.
Awarded by the The Australian Guild of Screen Composers
Nominated by Australian Performance
Rights Association (APRA) for
Best Theme for Underscore for a TV Series for BORDERTOWN
Nominated by The Australia Industry
Record Association (ARIA) for
Best Australian soundtrack/Cast/Show release for THE PRISCILLA COMPANION.
Nominated by The British Academy
Awards (BAFTAS) for Best Original Music Score for THE ADVENTURES OF PRISCILLA QUEEN OF THE DESERT.
Best Music for a Childrens
Television Series. BLINKY BILL;
Awarded by the The Australian Guild of Screen Composers
Nominated by The Australian Guild
of Screen Composers Best;
Original Music Score for THE ADVENTURES OF PRISCILLA QUEEN OF THE DESERT.
Nominated by The Australian Film
Institute (AFI) Best Original
Music Score for THE ADVENTURES OF PRISCILLA QUEEN OF THE DESERT.
Awarded Best Music for Short Film.
THE RESTING PLACE. Awarded by
The Australian Guild of Screen Composers.
For complete details and contact
information see GUY GROSS WEBSITE