Scoring a Hat Trick

By Tk Published on .

Michael Montes, composer and executive CD at New York's Sacred Music, has been scoring big in film scoring lately. For starters, he did the music for Whipped, the comedy written and directed by former JWT producer Peter Cohen. He also wrote the soundtrack for One Day Crossing, a 25-minute short directed by Columbia University graduate student Joan Stein, which won the Student Academy Award for Best Narrative Film and the DGA's Student Film Award. To top it off, he scored the short film Cusp, directed by Ruth Sergel, which premiered at New Directors/New Films 2000.

Though he's done some indie features before, Whipped is Montes' first major release. He never worked with Peter Cohen on commercials, "but somebody recommended me and we hit it off," he says. Montes describes the Whipped sound, which is frequently reminiscent of Booker T. and the MGs, as "a swaggering-cool-comedy-funk thing, and there's also a psychedelic aspect to it." As for the bummer reviews the movie has been lashed with, "it's not a critics' film, it's a people's film," he says.

One-day Crossing, by contrast, is a critics' darling. Set in Budapest at the end of WW II, Montes calls the music "uplifting and emotional," with traces of Ives and Shostakovich. And whether the film is long or short, Montes is thrilled to get out of the 30-second box for a spell. "Commercials can be confining," he admits. "A composer wants to stretch out now and again. When you have a big canvas in front of you, it's liberating."

The big canvas continues; Montes is presently working on the score to an ESPN high school football documentary via Radical Media, and he has a feature thriller coming up.

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