WonderCon Recap: Behind the Music with the Composers Behind ‘The Book of Boba Fett’, ‘The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder’, ‘The King’s Man’, ‘Kung Fu’ and ‘Halo’
One of the many behind-the-scenes experiences fans can take part in WonderCon is Rhapsody PR’s annual Behind-the-Music panel, now in its 14th year. The 2022 panel included Joseph Shirley (Boba Fett’s Book), Kurt Farquhar (The proud family: stronger and prouder), Dominique Lewis (The king’s man), Sherri Chung (Kung Fu) and Sean Callery (Halo), moderated by Mary Chieffo of Star Trek: Discovery. For this recap, rather than a chronological play-by-play, I’m diving into what each composer has revealed about their compositions for these projects.
Joseph Shirley – “The Book of Boba Fett”
Having worked for The Mandalorian composer Ludwig Göransson over the past seven years, even providing additional music for the show’s second season, Joseph Shirley was no stranger to starring in the star wars musical sandbox. With two deadlines to follow Boba Fett’s Book, Joseph decided to treat them both as different partitions. The flashbacks have a primitive, epic, almost religious quality to the music, while the current timeline score was inspired by gangster and mob movies. A rarity in film and television scores, Lucasfilm gave Joseph Shirley the budget to use a baritone choir in the score. Featuring a sequence where Boba Fett mourns the loss of his Tusken Raider family, Joseph revealed that the choir actually sings in a Star Wars language called Mando’a and that the lyrics of this piece translate to “Family is more than some blood”.
Kurt Farquhar – “The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder”
Having worked on the original disney channel series and the Disney+ revival, Kurt Farquhar had the unique experience of not only writing the original show’s theme song, but also updating it for this current series. The proud family: stronger and prouder has a new style of animation and tackles topics the original series would never have tackled, which inspired the new arrangement of the theme song, performed by rising artist Joyce Wrice. To show an example of the diversity of work for the new series, Kurt showed a sequence where an Asian rapper performs at a party. In addition to writing the score, he composed over 70 songs for the revival of the hit Disney Channel animated series. While the show just debuted last month, he has been actively working on the revival since August 2019.
Dominic Lewis – “The King’s Man”
Dominic Lewis has worked for a long time with Matthew Margeson, his co-composer on the score of The king’s man. Director Matthew Vaughn likes a two-person crew, so when Henry Jackman was unavailable, Margeson suggested Dominic Lewis take his place. With their working relationship already established before the project, they were able to dive straight into the project, which lasted two years. Showcasing a streak in which Conrad Oxford becomes a hero on the battlefield, Dominic revealed the streak changed after he tagged him and he had to do it again. The experience of working on The king’s man was a treat for him as it offered him a chance to celebrate his English heritage.
Sherri Chung – “Kung Fu”
When Sherri Chung was hired to compose the music for The CW reboot Kung Fu, she felt the weight of responsibility on her shoulders. The series has a complicated past that Sherri Chung was aware of. She wanted to bring not only epic action to the score, but also cultural specificity through uniquely Chinese instruments. These included percussion and an air lute, which added a new layer of emotion to the work. Showrunners Christina M. Kim and Robert Berens have been a dream to work with, who truly trust Sherri to get the job done and appreciate her creative input. Likewise, she is grateful for their ratings and comments.
Sean Callery – “Halo”
With twenty years of history, Sean Callery has approached Halo with the goal of integrating music from the video games into its score, while adding its own stamp to the series’ musical landscape. Sean is not a gamer, which turned out to be an advantage while working on the series. He was drawn to the project because in the series, the Master Chief asks a question Sean might relate to during the pandemic; Who am I? While writing themes, he was unaware that the character had never taken off his helmet in the games. “My ignorance actually helped me,” he explained about how he probably would have thought too much about his arrangement for this scene if he had known, but the creative team behind the show is fell in love with her first attempt on the stage.
During the panel, composers were asked about the film scores that inspired them to become composers themselves. Their answers were:
- Joseph Shirley– from north to northwest by Bernard Hermann
- Kurt Farquhar– 24 by Sean Callery
- Dominique Lewis – Back to the future by Alan Silvestri
- Sherri Chung– buffy the vampire slayer by Christopher Beck
- Sean Callery- Jaws by John Williams
Two of the composers on the panel also teased some upcoming projects. Dominic Lewis composed the music for High-speed train hits theaters July 29 from Sony. The project gave him the chance to not only write more sheet music, but also songs performed by artists on his to-do list. Kurt Farquhar’s Music Can Next Be Heard In Netflix Vampire Series First murderfor which he used so much distortion on the elements that the vocals can sound like drums to the listener’s ears.