Composer For Hire- Working with Filmmaker Tom Smith

I’m really proud of the work that Tom Smith and I have done together. Tom’s a killer writer, filmmaker, and animator (last I checked he was working on Adult Swim’s Robot Chicken). We started working together in 2007 when I scored the second episode of his cartoon show, Johnsonerson. That project was one of my first for-hire gigs, and it’s still some of my favorite work.


The next project we collaborated on was his short film The Cat’s Out Of The Bag. For this soundtrack, bassist Andrew Bates and I worked together to create a stark, spooky sound-bed for Tom’s creepy tale of a Zombie cat that plays with a yuppie go-getters mind. The score was pretty amorphous, ranging from a series of ascending squiggly lines to the tonal, through-composed closing section. Andrew was a real champ, interpreting the score in interesting and dynamic ways. The soundtrack and Tom’s sharp cinematography really create a creepy-crawly vibe.

But the real master stroke in our collaboration was “Nine To Fire”, the final installment in the Johnsonerson canon. This episode was conceived while Tom was working with Joe Murray, the creator of Nickelodeon’s Rocko’s Modern Life and Cartoon Network’s Camp Lazlo. Joe actually contributed to the storyboarding of this episode, which was a real treat for both Tom and I, as we practically grew up on Rocko’s Modern Life. Tom really took the animation up three notches in this episode, which was fitting, as I amped up the soundtrack with full acoustic recordings instead of the midi-based score from the last episode. Toss in the Hanna-Barbera sound effects and a hilarious plot and you’ve got a real winner.

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