Elfman on Film Composer
"They're the only
ones that will punish you for your lack of schooling and who won't
accept you because you're self-taught. They just insist that you
don't exist. And, although I taught myself to write notation on
paper, I'll always be perceived by some as a 'hummer' - someone
who hums the melodies and turns them over to teams of orchestrators
who do my work."
Movieline Magazine -
by Stephen Rebello
Elfman Joking on
working with a studio orchestra:
"Sometimes I have
to take a young violinist, string her up between two mike stands,
and make an example of her. It's very cruel. But very effective."
Who is Danny Elfman?
Tim Burton on Danny Elfman:
"He totally understands the tone I like, which is usually
an even mix of funny, tragic, overly dramatic, all at the same time. He
understands that it doesn't matter if it's a comedy, a horror movie, whatever.
He understands the complexities of things. In my case, he helps us to
understand what the hell the movie's all about."
Movieline Magazine -
by Stephen Rebello
Elfman on classical
"The composers I
loved growing up were Prokofiev, Stravinsky, Shostakovich, Ravel,
and Bartok. My knowledge of classical music is very much limited
to these composers."
Elfman on working
"The hardest part
of being a composer is not really playing a melody for the director,
or deciding whether to use a synthesizer or a piano or whatnot,
it's really finding what the director get's excited about. It's
finding the movie's tone, and Tim's [Burton] films have such an
unusual tone that nailing that becomes such an important thing."
Starlog, Issue #235
Daniel Robert Elfman was born on May 29th, 1953 in Los Angeles,
California. His parents were Blossom and Milton Elfman. His father was
a teacher. Blossom, his mother, was a novelist. She won an Emmy for her
writing in a TV movie. Danny spent his childhood in Los Angeles.
When he turned 18, he moved with his brother, Richard, to
France. In France, he joined a theater group. This is where he became
acquainted with the many different instruments of the orchestra. After
spending a few years in France, he moved to Africa. He moved back to the
U.S. after contracting malaria. In 1980, Elfman worked with his brother,
director Richard Elfman, on the film Forbidden Zone. Forbidden
Zone was done first as 16mm film (AKA Hercules Family, in 1980),
then reshot as a 35mm version, which came out in 1983.* Richard formed
a group known as The Mystic Knights of Oingo Boingo. They performed the
score that Danny wrote for Forbidden Zone. Oingo Boingo, as it's
known today, became a permanent group and drew a large cult following.
In 1995, however, they broke up.
In 1985, Danny met Tim Burton. Tim had asked Danny to score
the music for Pee-Wee's Big Adventure. This was Tim's first time
directing and Danny's first time composing for a big-budget film. Danny
called in his friend and fellow Oingo Boingo member, Steve Bartek, to
orchestrate for him. Pee-Wee was a success. Thus began the friendship
between Danny and Tim. Today, they are still working together as a team.
Danny has scored the music for every single movie that Tim has directed,
with the exception of Ed Wood. Another close collaboration has
since sprung up with Sam Raimi, with films A Simple Plan and Spider-Man.
Danny has professed that Raimi has been an automatic "yes" candidate
for scoring projects since he saw Evil Dead II.
He won his only Grammy in 1989 for his theme to Batman.
He was nominated for two academy awards in 1998, one for Men in Black
and the other for Good Will Hunting, and was nominated again for
Big Fish in 2004. The Nightmare Before Christmas was a project
where Danny wrote the songs, composed the score, and sang the leading
role in the movie.
Besides Tim Burton and Sam Raimi, Danny has worked with
many other directors such as Brian DePalma, Emilo Estevez, Warren Beatty,
and Peter Jackson. In 1996, he composed the score to Freeway which
was directed by one of his high school friends. In return for his services,
Elfman was paid only a dollar. In addition to full score projects Danny
has contributed main title music and short cues for a number of projects,
from 'Cassandra's Aria' in Scream 2 to the theme music for The
Danny Elfman is one of the few artists that have established
themselves as both a composer and a rocker. He has drawn a large following
of fans who find his works to be fresh and innovative. (Translated: COOL!)
Although he is looked down upon by many of his colleaques, he still continues
to be one of the most popular and sought-after film composers in the film
Danny Elfman has recently married actress Bridget Fonda,
who knew him from his music for A Simple Plan, and who was successfully
'wooed' to the music of a scoring session of Red Dragon. What a
-Groovy Yak, updated Bluntinstrument-
Yak would like to give special thanks to Harley
Quinn for the information she supplied on Danny Elfman. I'd also like
to thank Pampyra
for letting me steal some images from her page. The quotes' sources are
cited except for a few in which I have no idea where the quote came from.
If you are the author or publisher, please let me know.
*Special Thanks to Richard Elfman for the info.