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Composers’ Roundtable: Narrative vs. Documentary

May 12, 2021 @ 4:00 pm 5:30 pm EDT


7:00-8:30 PM (EST) / 4:00-5:30 PM (PST)

Featuring Panelists


Composers active in scoring both narrative and documentary films will take part in this roundtable discussion. Each panelist will pose a few questions for the others and share samples of their own work, before turning it over to questions from the audience.

Each composer will reflect on the similarities and differences between working in the two genres. Topics covered will include production schedules and creative decision-making. 

Royal Television Society award winning composer Nainita Desai is an Ivor Novello Awards, Cinema Eye Honors and British Independent Film Awards nominee, a BAFTA Breakthrough Brit, the International Film Music Critics Association Breakthrough Composer of 2020 and described by Film4 as one of the top five composers of 2020.

Her recent projects include Oscar nominated and BAFTA and Cannes winning feature documentary For Sama, and The Reason I Jump, an immersive cinematic exploration of neurodiversity. Other recent credits include: BBC drama series, Unprecedented; Netflix’s most-watched documentary, American Murder: The Family Next Door; psychological horror film Darkness Visible; the number one Netflix India series Bad Boy Billionaires; and the acclaimed interactive video game Telling Lies, released by Annapurna Interactive. Visit nainitadesai.com.

Nathan Halpern is an Emmy-nominated composer, named a ‘Composer to Watch’ by Classic FM and Indiewire. His score for the acclaimed psychological thriller Swallow (IFC) was called “brilliant” (Little White Lies) and “a highlight of the film” (Indiewire) and has been nominated for Hollywood Music in Media Award for Best Score in a Horror Film. He composed the scores of two films from Barack Obama’s 2018 Best Films of the Year list: Cannes winner The Rider (Sony Pictures Classics) and the Oscar-nominated Minding the Gap (Hulu). Halpern’s score for The Rider was featured at #3 in Vulture/New York Magazine’s 10 Best Movies Scores of The Year, described as “a plaintively lovely score” and “a beautiful score” (Screen Anarchy).

Other notable scores include Sundance Grand Jury Prize winners One Child Nation (Amazon Studios) and Rich Hill (Orchard), the Emmy and Peabody Award-winning Marina Abramovic: The Artist is Present (HBO Films); and the Oscar-shortlisted films Hooligan Sparrow and The Witness. He was nominated for a Hollywood Music in Media Award for Best Original Song for “Calling to Me” from One Percent More Humid (Sony Pictures). Next up: Darron Aronofsky and Nomadland producer Mollye Asher’s dark thriller Catch the Fair One, premiering at the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival. Visit copticonmusic.com

Guided by her passion of storytelling and visual art, Mandy Hoffman found her musical niche in composing to picture. She is known for her broad stylistic range, unique voice, and thoughtfully nuanced scores that strongly support both story and vision.

Her work on films, series, documentaries, commercials, and art installations have appeared in theaters, networks, top film festivals. and prestigious art galleries all over the world.

Her scores for The Lovers (A24) and Hala (Overbrook/Apple TV+) received ample praise from top film critics. Her music appears on countless TV shows, including underscoring Joey Soloway’s I Love Dick (Amazon), Doll & Em (HBO), and the Anna Kendrick-led Dummy (Quibi/Roku).

Hoffman is an active member of the music and filmmaking communities, often sitting on panels and leading workshops. She is a member of The Academy of Motion Pictures and is a board member at the Alliance for Women Film Composers. She currently resides in New York City. Visit mandyhoffman.com.

Jonathan Zalben is a composer and music supervisor, and runs the music licensing company, First Frame Music. Zalben currently creates the music for Axios on HBO directed by Matthew O’Neill and Perry Peltz. Past music credits include the Disney+ series On Pointe, the Oscar-nominated HBO Doc Redemption directed by Jon Alpert, the New York Times Op-Doc Alone directed by Garrett Bradley, which won the Sundance Jury Award and was shortlisted for an Oscar, as well as many films for HBO, Netflix, Sony, Lionsgate, Starz, and PBS, among others. Zalben serves on the SCL NY Steering Committee. Visit jonathanzalben.com.

FREE for current SCL members (click HERE to check membership status).
Attendees will be emailed a YouTube Live Stream link approximately 10 minutes before the Seminar starts
Attendees may ask questions using the YouTube Livestream chat function. 
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Please address any SCL NY Seminar questions to adminny@thescl.com