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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 wants.’

"When people like that ask ‘How long does it take?" says Gross, "I reply, about 15 years of training and experience."

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 were.

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 also favourites.

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 side.

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 studio.

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 Original Underscore)

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 Network)

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 Music

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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GUY GROSS

Film Composer/Music Producer


MUSIC EXCERPTS

THE ADVENTURES OF PRISCILLA, QUEEN OF THE DESERT,
a feature film which though known for the songs, had a nice score, too, for which Gross was nominated for a BAFTA award.

BORDERTOWN
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.

CROWN CASINO
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.)



Yoram Gross - Guy's father (and fan)


The Gross family: Yoram, Guy, mother Sandra, and Guy's sister, Karen

ALBUM RELEASES
1995
BORDERTOWN.
Soundtrack from the TV Series; CD and Cassette EMI/ABC Records (4798182)

1994
THE PRISCILLA COMPANION.
Dialogue & Original Score from the film; The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert: CD and Cassette. Polydor (5271152)

1994
BLINKY BILL.
Songs Based on the TV Series; CD and Cassette. EMI/ABC Records (512914-2)

1994
FRAUDS
Original Motion Picture Soundtrack; CD Mushroom Records (PTR003)

1992
SONGS FROM BLINKY BILL
CD and Cassette. EMI/ABC Records (522512-2)

1991
THE MAGIC RIDDLE SOUNDTRACK ALBUM
CD and Cassette. BMG Records (SPCD1212) (Also Single release performed by Julie Anthony)

AWARDS & NOMINATIONS
1997
Best Title Theme for a TV Series, Serial or Mini Series: FRONT UP, SBS Awarded by the The Australian Guild of Screen Composers

1996
Best Music for a Television Series or Serial. BORDERTOWN Ep 4. Awarded by the The Australian Guild of Screen Composers

1996
Nominated by Australian Performance Rights Association (APRA) for Best Theme for Underscore for a TV Series for BORDERTOWN

1995
Nominated by The Australia Industry Record Association (ARIA) for Best Australian soundtrack/Cast/Show release for THE PRISCILLA COMPANION.

1995
Nominated by The British Academy Awards (BAFTAS) for Best Original Music Score for THE ADVENTURES OF PRISCILLA QUEEN OF THE DESERT.

1994
Best Music for a Childrens Television Series. BLINKY BILL; Awarded by the The Australian Guild of Screen Composers

1994
Nominated by The Australian Guild of Screen Composers Best; Original Music Score for THE ADVENTURES OF PRISCILLA QUEEN OF THE DESERT.

1994
Nominated by The Australian Film Institute (AFI) Best Original Music Score for THE ADVENTURES OF PRISCILLA QUEEN OF THE DESERT.

1992
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








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