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SDCC 2015: Behind the Music – SyFy Thrills and Chills – Panel Coverage

The Fanboy Comics crew attended San Diego Comic-Con’s Behind the Music: SyFy Thrills and Chills panel on Friday, July 10th, which involved leading Hollywood composers discussing the musical voice behind our favorite spooky and supernatural TV thrillers, illustrating not only the impact of the music on the audience’s viewing experience but also the subtle details that go into making sounds for top SyFy television programs. From the slow, yet suspenseful, zombie chase to the frenetic escape in your favorite post-apocalyptic adventure, the soundtracks of today’s science fiction and supernatural TV shows enhance the storytelling experience and create the most memorable of moments that audiences will always remember.

The lineup of panelists included composers Bill Brown (Dominion), Jason Gallagher (Z Nation), Reinhold Heil (Helix), FM Le Sieur (Being Human), Shawn Pierce (Haven), and Chris Ridenhour (Sharknado 1-3).  In addition, the panel was moderated by Tahmoh Penikett (Battlestar Gallactica, Continuum, Haven).  [Unfortunately, scheduled co-moderator DJ Qualls (Z Nation) was ill and unable to attend.]  Fans in attendance were treated to a series of clips from the panelists’ most recent television shows, which highlighted the impact of a score on the intensity of a scene. The panelists answered questions ranging from what they found most fascinating about the sci-fi genre, why sci-fi shows are easier to score for than others, which instruments make the scariest sounds, and how they approach the scoring of particular characters. 

As fans of the sci-fi genre themselves, the panelists shared their own inspirations for following a path in movie and TV composing, including John Williams’ work on the Star Wars films and the Independence Day soundtrack by David G. Arnold.  While a few of the composers have had the opportunity to work on incredible TV programs like CSI, they noted that they relished the opportunity to work on genre-based projects, given that they had more freedom to have fun with the music and also to enhance the stories of specific characters by building jingles or themes for characters of note. 

Many of the panelists discussed the challenges and benefits that were undertaken in scoring their respective projects.  Gallagher noted that the director of Z Nation encouraged him to score the TV show with only items that could be found after a zombie apocalypse.  In addition, Heil – who both scored and performed music for Helix – explained that playing their own music adds a layer of excitement to the project that is not always possible in larger-budget projects. 

Overall, the panelists’ own passion for scoring SyFy television shows was palpable, which only made clearer why their work has such a lasting impact on our enjoyment of science fiction television.

Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief




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