“Peter Rabbit” and “DuckTales” (among others) composer, Dominic Lewis, found some time to chat with us about the new movie as well as what it really means to be a composer. The BSCKids readers will get a glimpse of what sort of effort it takes to be a composer for the entertainment industry. Being able to really set the mood for shows and movies is hard work, but the impact is huge!
Dominic Lewis is the composer for “Peter Rabbit” which was recently released starring the voices of Margot Robbie, James Corden and Daisy Ridley.
Dominic is best known for scoring all three seasons of Amazon’s Emmy-winning series, “The Man in the High Castle.” Additionally, Dominic recently scored Disney XD’s revitalized “Duck Tales,” starring Lin-Manuel Miranda and Allison Janney.
BSCKids: Dominic, I think a lot of the readers would be interested to hear about the normal workday in the life of a composer working on television and movies.
Dominic Lewis: A normal day consists of coming into the studio, making myself a very strong cup of coffee, and then sitting down at the sequencer and basically getting started on whatever project I’m working on. So today would be Man in the High Castle – sometimes I’m starting a cue fresh with a blank template, or sometimes I’ve left a cue the previous day and thought it was a better idea to come back to it in the morning and finish it off. It can change day-to-day, one day I’ll work on American Nazi’s and the next I’ll be working on cartoon ducks for DuckTales and of course all of that is intermittent with phone calls and emails and all the other things that come along with the job.
BSCKids: For all of the kids, how early did you know you wanted to be a composer and what did you do during your teenage years to make it happen?
Dominic Lewis: I knew from a pretty early age. I think originally the goal was to be a rock star and play in bands and all that jazz but I think my dad said I shouldn’t be an instrumentalist and instead I should get into writing music. I fell in love with composition and film music specifically around 15 when I met Rupert Gregson-Williams and I was very lucky to be mentored by him. So I knew I wanted to be in music, just like Mom and Dad, but the love for composition came a little later as I moved into my teens.
BSCKids: How did you get the opportunity to do the score for “Peter Rabbit” and your work on “DuckTales”?
Dominic Lewis: Well Peter Rabbit came about because of my existing relationship with Sony – I’d previously done Money Monster and Rough Night with them, so that’s why I got thrown into the mix. I think also versatility with genre and styles, being able to blend more traditional orchestral writing with more modern band/synth elements helped when they considered me. When I read the script I loved it, and it turned out the director Will Gluck liked me after a couple of demos so I couldn’t have been more thrilled to be a part of the project. DuckTales was a little different. I’m friends with a composer named Chris Willis, we used to work at Remote Control together and Chris has done a number shows over at Disney TV. I think they originally approached Chris to ask for his advice on who would be a good fit for DuckTales, and Chris suggested me so Jay and Mark at Disney reached out. Again, being a massive fan of the original, I jumped on the chance to do that project.
BSCKids: Did you get to watch some episodes of “DuckTales” or parts of “Peter Rabbit” before starting on the work, or did you just go off of the description that they gave you?
Dominic Lewis: I think it’s very rare these days that a composer is given a description then goes off and writes music. I’ve never done that in my career, I’m always given a cut prior to working on any project. The DuckTales episodes I get are finished essentially, other than sound effects and some ADR that needs doing, but in terms of the cut they’re locked. With Peter Rabbit I came on pretty early in the process and went through forty-something picture cuts, so the music changed drastically from when I started working on it to eventually when I finished about two weeks ago. So yeah I always see at least a scene before I start working on projects, and with those two specific projects I was lucky enough to see them in
BSCKids: Does meeting the actors influence your work at all, or do you compose to the scene?
Dominic Lewis: I only really meet the actors at the premieres, when everything’s said and done. It’s very rare that I get to meet actors during the process. I guess one exception was when I met Joel de la Fuente who plays Inspector Kido at the season two premiere of Man in the High Castle. Before he started filming season 3 he reached out to me and asked if I could send him Kido music form previous seasons to get him in the mood when he started filming, so that was kind of cool. That hasn’t really affected how I write, that’s just something a little different that happens during a project instead of just meeting everyone at the end of the process.
BSCKids: Besides working on music, what hobbies do you have?
Dominic Lewis: I love to play and watch basketball. I love sports in general really, I’m a big sports fan, so that’s my main hobby other than music. Other than that, I like drawing and doodling. My main hobby is what I do for a living which makes me very lucky. Playing music and watching films is a great hobby to be paid for, so I’m very fortunate.
BSCKids: Are there any future projects you are working on that you can talk about?
Dominic Lewis: Nothing lined up yet. I’m finishing up Man in the High Castle season 3 and season 1 of DuckTales. I think I’m allowed to say that Season 2 of Ducktales has been greenlit, so I shall be rolling on into that after I finish those two things. I also have a new baby boy that should be arriving any day now, so I think that’s my next project.
BSCKids: Where can we find you on the internet?
Special thanks to Dominic for taking the time out of his busy schedule to talk to us about his work. We are always interested in hearing about DuckTales!