Tribeca Film Festival’s New Initiative For Storytellers

Music News from The Tribeca Film Festival (TFF) 2014 

By Phil Johnson

Musicians and filmmakers are excited to hear the news that Tribeca Interactive & Interlude: A Music Film Challenge in collaboration with The Lincoln Motor Company via’s global creative community is launched.

For the first time, Tribeca and its partners invite storytellers and content creators to work with Interlude’s interactive video platform to create an interactive music film for major music artists Damon Albarn, Aloe Blacc, and Ellie Goulding, with the winning project for each screening at TFF.

The new Challenge underscores the shared commitment of the partners to explore the future of storytelling in the digital age using the creative flexibility and audience engagement capabilities of Interlude’s patented interactive video technology.

Working with Genero’s global creative community of more than 250,000 filmmakers from 190 countries, this program furthers Tribeca’s dedication to supporting new approaches to storytelling, and bringing new content with a fresh perspective to a wide variety of audiences both locally in New York City and internationally across social and digital channels through collaboration with technology innovators.

The Challenge began on January 28 when digital storytellers began to create interactive music films for the music tracks “Heavy Seas of Love” by Damon Albarn from his forthcoming solo album, “Ticking Bomb” by Aloe Blacc, and “Dead in the Water” by Ellie Goulding.

A jury will select finalists for each of the three music tracks, with the artists aiding the jury to select the winner for each of their respective songs. The winning entry will be aligned with Damon Albarn’s “Everyday Robots” album official campaign, Aloe Blacc’s “Lift Your Spirit,” and Ellie Goulding’s “Halcyon Days” respectively. The winning filmmakers will receive $10,000 each and a trip to attend the Tribeca Film Festival.

Submissions close on March 27 at Information available at




July 2017

By Phil Johnson

When the unimaginable hits a family, the result can be a tragedy.

When the victim is a child it is always a tragedy.  

And when the  wrangling over responsibility for the tragedy goes on and on,  the tragedy is compounded by the passage of time  

In the new book Blindsided, Florida attorney James L Ferraro lays out in detail Castillo-vs-DuPont, the story of a young man who was born without eyes after his pregnant mom was sprayed by an agricultural additive one afternoon during one of her pre-natal strolls near some farmland in Florida.

This is not a novel or a TV production.  It is a real legal case that took a decade to resolve. The book is a fascinating look inside the legal jousting that went on. The action is told in full detail by the attorney who devoted 10 years to bring this case to a successful close.

In 1993, attorney Ferraro was introduced to a Dade County Fl. couple Juan and Donna Castillo whose son Johnny,  then three, had been born with no eyes.  He was not merely blind but literally had no eyes on his face. The condition was incurable. He would never be able to see.  Ferraro had a healthy young  son, Andrew, so the connection was immediate and personal.

At the time, there was an investigation of linkage between a product, Benlate, an agricultural spray produced by the chemical company DuPont, and the contamination of farmland and the possibility of birth defects in children.  There was no legal precedent for a decision against a chemical company over such a circumstance.  And DuPont was the biggest of the big when it came to chemical companies.

That was the challenge.  And, says Ferraro in the book,  “I knew the Castillos didn’t stand a chance of going the distance against a behemoth like that. They surely didn’t have the money or the stamina it would take to stare down DuPont, let alone win.”

So why take the case?

“I started my law firm two years out of law school and was never mentored by anyone. Maybe not having a mentor to talk me out of it is what made me both naive and brazen enough to take on a case like the Castillos’. I was free to do it if I wanted.  I didn’t have to answer to anyone else.”

“Besides,” he added, “At the time, I was very idealistic – almost to a fault.”

What happens in the next 200 pages is a blow by blow account by Ferraro on behalf of the Castillos against DuPont and co-defendant, Pine Island Farm, where the spraying had occurred.  

After detailing his upbringing in Greenwich Ct., his college days at the University of Miami and  his early law career, Ferraro outlines his three rules of life:  

There is nothing wrong with having fun

Try not to hurt others; and 

Help as many people as you can.

While he never states it explicitly, perhaps the most important rule that comes out in the book is “Don’t be afraid of hard work.”

Blindsided, more than anything else is the story of hard work and a determination to do what is necessary to see a crusade through to the end.

“To make real change requires real work,” said Ferraro in a recent interview.

“My goal in writing this book is to raise awareness of an amazing story that needed to be told. But beyond that, it is to get laws passed that protect consumers.  In this and other cases, it is important to have scientific evidence be admissible in trials. It is an added protection for consumers. Then, when you get a jury together, they usually get it right.”

But first, the story had to be in print. Ferraro worked with long-time book collaborator Laura Morton, acclaimed for writing more than 40 books, many of them best-sellers.

“I wanted to work with Laura because of her track record,” said Ferraro.  “She does not have a  science or law background but a solid background in storytelling, so she was perfect to work with to make the case understandable to readers. It was a true collaboration.”

The Castillo case was finally resolved by the Florida Supreme Court in 2003. The outcome was an award of just under $7 million.  The family subsequently moved to Massachusetts where Johnny, now a young adult, is recognized for his musical abilities. A highlight:  singing the National Anthem before a Red Sox game one Easter Sunday.

Ferraro is no one-hit wonder. He is a very successful attorney whose law firm specializes in mass tort cases, most recently related to asbestos-related mesothelioma. The Castillo verdict was his first precedent-setting decision.  

At times,  Castillo versus DuPont, as described in Blindsided, reads like a John Grisham novel. At other times it is reminiscent of All the President’s Men where it took months and years of hard work to uncover the Watergate scandal.  There is a real-life David versus Goliath story here too.  

No matter what the proper analogy, Blindsided is a great read for anyone interested in the law and the practice of law in the wake of a tragedy.  

Blindsided by James L. Ferraro with Laura Morton, is published by Gildan Press, 2017 and is available in libraries and bookstores everywhere. 



Mark Isham Scores John Ridley’s LA Riots Documentary Let It Fall: Los Angeles 1982 – 1992 airs April 28 at 9 p.m. (ET)/6 p.m. (PT) on ABC April 25, 2017 (Hollywood, CA) — Award-winning composer Mark Isham (Once Upon a Time, The Accountant, American Crime) scores ABC’s TV Documentary “Let It Fall: Los Angeles 1982 – 1992,” an insightful documentary from Oscar-winning screenwriter John Ridley (12 Years a Slave, American Crime, Red Tails). The two-hour documentary will air one day before the 25th anniversary of the LA Riots on April 28th at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT on ABC. It chronicles the years and events leading up to the massive city-wide uprising that began on April 29th, 1992 after the Rodney King verdict was announced. Telling the story from multiple perspectives, the documentary examines the cause-and-effect connections that lead up to the racially charged riots of 1992. This project is the first documentary collaboration between Isham and Ridley, the two currently work together on ABC’s hit TV show American Crime as composer and director respectively. With the documentary’s narrative touching on multiple issues, Isham’s score is used to weave together the effects of the riots and its aftermath on the residents of Los Angeles. Similar to his work in American Crime, Isham’s score is used to help the audience understand the stories of the multiple people interviewed and ground them in the documentary’s narrative revolving around the victims and witnesses of the tragedies of the LA Riots of 1992. Electronic music innovator, musician and prolific film composer, Mark Isham’s work will be featured in two upcoming events: I. EVENT: American Crime Suite Musical Performance WHEN: Friday, April 29, 2017 at 7PM WHERE: Wolf Theatre in the Saban Media Center at the Television Academy 5210 Lankershim Blvd. North Hollywood, CA 91601 SPECIAL GUESTS: · Felicity Huffman · Lili Taylor · Regina King · Benito Martinez · Richard Cabral · Ana Mulvoy-Ten · Mickaëlle X. Bizet · John Ridley, creator/executive producer · Michael J. McDonald, executive producer · Mark Isham, composer II. EVENT: Media Composition and Studio Ensemble featuring Mark Isham WHEN: Friday, May 12, 2017 at 7:30PM WHERE: Plaza del Sol Performance Hall (doors open 30 minutes before performance) TICKETS: Adults $15 / Faculty, Staff & Seniors $10 / Students $7 PROGRAM: · American Crime Suite · Les Modernes · Moritat · Black Dahila · Once Upon A Time WHY: Mark Isham’s work has received accolades including Grammy and Emmy awards, as well as Oscar and Golden Globe nominations. He has performed worldwide and collaborated with celebrated artists in multiple genres including Robert Redford, Tom Cruise, Brian De Palma, Frank Darabont, John Ridley, Jodi Foster, and Robert Altman. Isham has created critically-acclaimed scores for over 100 films including “Crash,” “42,” “Dolphin Tale,” “Warrior,” “Miracle,” “Nell,” and “A River Runs Through It,” for which he received a Best Original Score Oscar® nomination. In 2013, Isham was lauded with the Distinguished Film Composer Award at the inaugural Middleburg Film Festival along with a concert by the Shenandoah Conservatory Symphony Orchestra of his memorable scores. He also earned a Grammy for his self-titled album Mark Isham. Mark Isham’s accolades also include an Emmy award, a Golden Globe nomination and the Henry Mancini award for Career Achievement. Isham currently scores the Emmy nominated series Once Upon a Time also on ABC. His upcoming film projects include “Sun Dogs,” starring Melissa Benoist, and Ed O’Neil, and “Megan Leavey” starring Ben Kate Mara, Tom Felton and Bradley Whitford. ###


Composer Christopher Lennertz Reteams with Director Tim Story to Score Ride Along
Film Opens Friday, January 17, 2014
(Hollywood, CA) January 15, 2014— Award-winning composer Christopher Lennertz scores Ride Along, Universal Pictures’ buddy-cop action comedy starring Ice Cube and Kevin Hart. Ride Along marks Lennertz’s second collaboration with director Tim Story.

Previously working together on Think Like A Man, Lennertz and Story are also working on Think Like A Man Too releasing this summer. Ride Along opens in theaters nationwide Friday, January 17, 2014. The Ride Along score album will be available January 28, 2014 on Varèse Sarabande Records.

Ride Along follows a fast-talking slacker (Hart) who must join his girlfriend’s brother (Ice Cube) —a hot-tempered cop—to patrol the streets of Atlanta. As he gets entangled in the officer’s latest case, he must survive the most insane 24 hours of his life to prove that he deserves his future bride.

Christopher Lennertz wrote a comedic score, adding to the attitude necessary for the film’s action sequences. Lennertz told me, “Having worked with Tim previously, this film was the perfect situation for me. You have Kevin as the funny guy and Ice Cube as the straight shooter, which makes it the job of the music to enhance the energy of both of those characters. For Ice Cube’s character, I incorporated ‘90s hip-hop influences, whereas for Kevin’s character, I infused a tone reminiscent of the classic ‘80s cop comedies.”
Fans and industry leaders know Christopher Lennertz as an award-winning composer for film, television and video games. Lennertz’s success ranges from scoring star-studded comedies including the recent box office hits Identity Thief, Think Like a Man and Horrible Bosses to family films including Alvin and the Chipmunks and Hop. Lennertz’s recent television credits include NBC’s hit series Revolution and the CW’s landmark series Supernatural.

In the video game world, Christopher Lennertz’s credits include the final installment of Mass Effect 3 and the final installment of Starhawk. Other video game credits include Medal of Honor, the James Bond: 007 series, and Gun.

Lennertz’s accolades include BMI Film Awards, two Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences awards for Best Original Score, and an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Music for a Series for Supernatural.

Source: Movies


By Phil Johnson

When Muhammad Ali died this month, the world lost a great athlete who turned out to be much more. He earned the respect of people throughout the world. No one was more proud of that than the late Ben Becker.

Ben Becker was a former boxer and boxing coach in Albany N.Y. No one who ever met him face to face challenged those credentials. He looked the part – think rougher version of the actor Pat O’Brien in Knute Rockne: All-American.

In 1960, Becker, by then, a hard-nosed high school administrator and disciplinarian – no one ever had to be called into his office a second time- was chosen as one of three coaches for the US Boxing Team competing at the Olympic Games in Rome. His light heavyweight boxer, Cassius Clay, won the gold medal.

Clay, a trash talker even then, was a Becker favorite and a boxing legend as early as 1964 when he won the heavyweight championship upsetting Sonny Liston. Soon to become known as Muhammad Ali, the boxer’s prominence grew well beyond the ring, mainly because of his outsized personality, his conversion to Islam and affiliation with The Nation of Islam, and his principled refusal to be drafted into the military during the Viet Nam War.

Although they kept in touch for several years, by the mid-1970s it had been a while since Becker and Ali had spoken. By that time, Ali was again the Heavyweight Champion of the World and Becker had retired after a 40-year career working in the Albany schools.

In 1979 Ali was scheduled to make a public appearance at the State University of New York at Albany. Earlier that year, I had written a profile of Becker for the University’s alumni magazine. And he reached out to me to see if he could attend a reception being held for Ali before the boxer’s public remarks that evening.

He could come with me, I said.

Becker wasn’t sure Ali would recognize him. It was 19 years after the Rome Olympics, several years since they had been in touch, and Ali was -arguably – now the most famous athlete in the world.

Becker was one of a small group waiting just inside the rear entrance of the University’s Alumni House when Ali came through the door. All of a sudden the champ stopped.

He spotted his old coach.

“BEN BEKKA!” Ali shouted. Then he took two steps and threw a huge bear hug around his former coach. They exchanged private words, heard only by the two. But those of us watching knew it was a moment of genuine, mutual affection.

That evening Ali went on to say he wanted “nothing to do with boxing anymore” (a pledge he would break and make several more times before retiring from the ring in 1981). But he had the full attention of the 3,000 on hand.

No matter how many were there, the happiest person in the room was Ben Becker. He was proud of Ali. And the champ had remembered.

Becker died in 1987 at age 80.


Phil Johnson, a longtime freelance writer, was Director of Communications at the State University of New York at Albany when Ali and Becker reunited in 1979.


By Alice O’Neill

Pemberton’s first comment: ‘Wow! I just got nominated for a Golden Globe – that is proper bonkers! I’m so honored to be nominated with my musical heroes. I wanted to ‘Think Different’ in how I approached this score and working with a cinematic visionary like Danny Boyle meant I could. Since STEVE JOBS was brilliantly written by Aaron Sorkin in three acts I took three different musical approaches, so Danny got three scores for the price of one – Bargain of the year!” —Daniel Pemberton

More of the story:
Pemberton was able to get involved with the edit and work very closely alongside Danny Boyle in order to achieve a unique score. Directed by Danny Boyle, Steve Jobs stars Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet, Jeff Daniels, and Seth Rogen. “Steve Jobs” is currently in theaters and the soundtrack is available from Backlot Records.

Listen to the “Steve Jobs” score here:

With thanks to Nicole Albert at Costa Communications, Hollywood’s top reps for professional musicians.


More on Daniel Pemberton:

Pemberton also recently composed the critically acclaimed retro-rock score for Guy Ritchies’ The Man from U.N.C.L.E.  He is excited to bring another original and distinct sound to Steve Jobs.  Pemberton stated “I seem to specialize in scoring films that don’t want to be scored in an obvious way. Steve Jobs is similar in that respect – it’s unique and you have to find a way to deal with that.”

Named 2014’s “Discovery of the Year” at the World Soundtrack Awards in Ghent, Belgium, Daniel Pemberton is a diverse and multi-talented composer.  He is an Ivor Novello Award-winner and has been nominated multiple times for the prestigious BAFTA Awards.  Pemberton scored Ridley Scott’s 2013 crime-thriller film The Counselor starring Brad Pitt, Javier Bardem, Penelope Cruz, Cameron Diaz, and Michael Fassbender, as well as Scott’s TV project The Vatican.  After self-releasing an avant-garde electronic album at the age of 16 and garnering attention from Massive Attack’s label, Pemberton began composing for British television while still in high school.  Pemberton’s soundtrack credits include films such as The Awakening and In Fear, and he has scored video games including Little Big Planet 1 & 2, and the second highest selling Xbox game of all time: Kinect Adventures.

With thanks to Ray Costa and his team at Costa Commuications



Ray Costa of Costa Communications announces that Eye in the Sky will premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 11, 2015. 

Composers Mark Kilian and Paul Hepker Reunite with Director Gavin Hood for Thriller EYE IN THE SKY.

(Hollywood, CA) September 4, 2015 Mark Kilian and Paul Hepker are reuniting for a third time with film director, Gavin Hood to provide the score for Eye in the Sky.” The pair previously collaborated with Hood on Rendition, and the Academy Award-winning film “Tsotsi.”

Featuring award-winning actors including Helen Mirren, Aaron Paul, Alan Rickman, and Barkhad Abdi, “Eye in the Sky” follows Colonel Katherine Powell (Mirren), a military intelligence officer on a secret drone mission, intent on capturing a terrorist group in Nairobi, Kenya.

When a nine-year old girl is found entering the kill zone, Powell has to determine whether or not to take action. The film will premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on Friday, September 11, 2015 at 6:30 PM – Roy Thomson Hall 60 Simcoe Street Toronto, Ontario.

Hepker, Kilian, and Hood, all from South Africa met through mutual friends in Los Angeles and immediately developed a collaborative, “artist-to-artist” relationship in addition to a deep friendship. Kilian has stated “Our relationship is very “work-like” when it needs to be, but we also sit around the piano, drink beer, and sing Pink Floyd songs.”

South African born Mark Kilian has had a successful and eclectic film scoring career since moving to Los Angeles in 1994. He is most known for his ethnic flavored scores like the Oscar winning “Tsotsi,” “Traitor,” Rendtion,”  “Bless Me Ultima,” and Before the Rains”.

His most recent scores include “Revenge Of The Green Dragons (executive produced by Martin Scorsese,) John Carpenter’s “The Ward,” Trust Me” (Clark Gregg, Felicity Huffman, Sam Rockwell, William H Macy,) Seal Team 8” (Tom Sizemore,) Repentance” (Forest Whitaker,) and Pitch Perfect,” for which he was awarded a platinum album. His TV work includes HBO’s 41, ABC’s Killer Women, and Daybreak.

He has also written music for many TV commercials including Apple, Toyota, Budweiser, American Express and Microsoft.  As a musician, he has released three albums : ‘The Gravy Street’ and two albums with the electronica duo ‘Ape Quartet.

Paul Hepker, born in Zimbabwe and raised in South Africa trained as a concert pianist under composer Adolph Hallis.

In 1994 he wrote the voter education theme “Make Your Mark”  for the first democratic elections in South Africa, which gave birth to a National TV game show of the same name. In 1997 he moved to Los Angeles, and has since composed the music for numerous Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, and National Geographic series including Deadliest Catch, Shark U, Herring, Iditarod, Raw Nature, and America’s Deadliest Season.

In 1999 Paul was a finalist in the inaugural John Lennon Songwriting Competition and has had songs featured in, and included on the soundtracks for “Tsotsi,” “Permanent Midnight,” “Soul Survivor,” “The Bird Can’t Fly,” and “Into the Light”.



Henry Jackman Scores With “PIXELS”

Henry Jackman Creates Top Score for Pixels

by Albert Tello

In Theaters July 24th, 2015


(Hollywood, CA) – June 19, 2015—Award-winning Composer Henry Jackman’s Pixels score is a playful and intense musical rollercoaster ride that is just as fast, thrilling and fun as this new Columbia Pictures film, in theatres nationwide July 24thPixels, starring Adam Sandler, features exciting special effects, CG and animation that bring favorite video games PAC-MAN, Donkey Kong, Galaga, Centipede and Space Invaders to life.

Jackman is no stranger to video games coming to life: he won an Annie Award® for his score to Disney’s Wreck It Ralph and scored the Oscar®-winning animated film Big Hero 6.

In Pixels, legendary director and producer Chris Columbus (who famously directed the hit films Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone; Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets; Night at the Museum; I Love You, Beth Cooper; Mrs. Doubtfire; Home Alone 1 & 2; Gremlins; The Goonies), creates a reinvention of classic pop-culture video game characters, merging the digital world with our everyday reality in a whole new, never-before seen way. Jackman’s score keeps up the energy, excitement, creativity and originality of the film with music to match.  The Pixels soundtrack will also be released on July 24th on Varese Sarabande.

For Pixels, Henry Jackman created a fully indulgent, classic action-adventure score that he describes as “symphonic mystery music.” Director Chris Columbus wanted a classic symphonic score in the tradition of renowned Composer John Williams, with whom Columbus collaborated on previous films.

“The alien invasion is more sophisticated,” says Jackman.  “It almost feels like something you would hear on Close Encounters of the Third Kind, not the action scores of today.  It’s a refreshing remake of a classic entertainment film,” he continues.  “It feels like it could have been made in the 80s.”

Jackman chose not to score Pixels comedically because, he says, “the comedy in the film speaks for itself.”  Henry Jackman worked with a 40-piece choir, full live percussion with five players, and a full orchestra of 75 members to create the Pixels score.

In Pixels, humanity succeeds at contacting an alien life form; unfortunately, the message is taken the wrong way, and the aliens launch a full-scale war using video game technology to destroy us.  Adam Sandler, who plays Sam Brenner, leads the cast of this action-packed comedy, along with Kevin James, Josh Gad, and Peter Dinklage who play Brenner’s childhood, arcade-fly friends.  Now, all grown up, they must use their classic video game skills to help the president save the world from PAC-MAN, Donkey Kong, Galaga, Centipede and Space Invaders.  Jackman’s score weaves in and out of the action expertly, building tension and taking audience members on an indulgent musical adventure throughout the film.

                                            Some background on Henry Jackman

Henry Jackman – a prodigy who began composing his first symphony at age six and was an accomplished composer by age nine – began his professional solo career in 2009 after studying classical music at Oxford University.

In just five years, he has established himself as a dynamic and prolific film composer. He scores films in all genres: animated films (Big Hero 6, Wreck-It Ralph), action-adventures (Captain America: The Winter Soldier, X-Men: First Class, Kick-Ass 1&2), comedies (This is the End) and dramas (Captain Phillips). Jackman presents a revolutionary range of composing skills, ingeniously marrying his expertise in classical music with his experience in dance/club music and his innovative production of Electronica.

                                          Looking Ahead with Henry Jackman

Next up for Jackman is Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War, in theatres May 2016.

With thanks from Costa Communications