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How did you get into scoring?

I started by writing some scores and songs for some educational films. This happened because my girlfriend at the time saw an ad in the Village Voice looking for a "classical composer for children's films" . Ends up an assistant got in trouble for putting the ad in under her own initiative. Hundreds of people applied...

What was your first scoring project -- film or television? Any shorts or students films before that?

The project's above were made for use in the classroom. My first film was Apple Pie, an independent film made by a friend in NYC.

Did you study under anybody before heading off scoring by yourself?

I started with no training and ended up learning a lot about orchestration from some great orchestrators that did some of my projects. I never studied film scoring with anyone.

Before we delve into the questions, I got to ask what is on the mind of every single reader who clicked into this article: earlier this year [2010] a new mastered release of "Terminator 2: Judgment Day" was issued, but no new tracks. Upon the fan base asking about this, the reply back where they could not find tapes for your score to release the complete work. Were you ever contacted about tapes? Any idea where they could be (or what happened to them)?

Answered this in the fan questions

Was the use of synths in some of your scoring body always by choice, or were budgetary and time constraints sometimes an issue?

Often by choice, sometime budgetary constraints. We considered orchestra for T2 but there wasn't any time...

Out of curiosity, do you recall what your first all or mostly synth-based score was?

"Apple Pie" and the "Astrologer" had a lot of early synth.

I understand at the start of synthesizers in scores, it was often clunky, messes of wires, and problems abounding; was it a big deal dealing with all the conflicts that occurred getting the equipment set up (similarly, the most complex score in way of synth equipment?), and did it yield the results hoped for?

Terminator was very difficult because I was using many different synths and sequencers and because I didn't have midi available on many of them I had to sync them by hand. This is why the main theme is in a very odd time signature. The looping of the prophet 10 was just a little short of a complete measure.

If budget and time restraints aren't there and one is free, what are the personal choices you make in deciding if a score is to be a regular orchestral work or synth based?

The film usually speaks clearly to me of it's needs. I hear something in my head after screening and pursue the best execution of what I'm imagining. This often would end up being a mix of acoustic and sounds I created.

Many score fans only know you for about a handful or works -- mostly synth-heavy efforts, but you've scored everything from TV movies with small ensemble players, to bigger purely orchestra works; can you tell us about some of the different styles you've used?

I would use anything that seemed to best support the film. Early on I did a lot of period piece orchestral scores as well as rock, Jazz, music concert, After Terminator I did a comedy with Susan Sarandon called Compromising Positions. I would have used live musicians for that, but since the director knew that I did Terminator in my studio he wanted me to do that again. Such is Hollywood.

James Cameron, who wrote the first Terminator film while living in his car, came knocking for a composer -- how did he find you, and did you two get on the same page?

An young agent sent him a tape of mine and he got into listening to it in his car. We had a meeting and he screened the film for me. I wrote the theme the next morning and when he heard it he said, "that's it!"

My understanding from various interviews with Tony Banks was that he was asked to score it, and offered to do it for free, but ultimately did not; did this affect you in any way, and was the amount of time to composer "The Terminator" shortened any by this?

I don't have any idea about what happened before I was hired. The guys from Hemdale did say something about having someone in England who would do it for free during our negotiations. I'm glad Jim was willing to stick up for what he wanted.

If you were ever contacted again, whether it be Cameron or somebody else, to score for the Terminator (film or television), would you be interested to do so?

Not really... (unless it was Jim and he was going to be an integral part of the production)

You scored three films by Cameron, all of which starred Arnold Schwarzenegger, as well. Why did you not end up scoring beyond "True Lies" with Cameron, and was Schwarzenegger a fan of you efforts?

I talked with Jim about Titanic, but he chose James Horner. Jim has great instincts and frankly he made a great choice for the film's ultimate commercial success because I don't think I would have thought of doing a contemporary song like Horner did.

Cameron is producing on the 2011 TV series of "True Lies"; is there any interest in scoring for the series?

I haven't heard anything at this point. It would be nice if they use some of the original themes... I'm not really looking to score series episodes at this point.

Aside from your scoring efforts have you also done other works such as musicals, shorts, symphonies, concert pieces, etc.?

I've been developing some original projects. Musicals for film and theater. Also a one man show that is original songs and stories of NYC and Hollywood.

For those, like myself, who have not seen it, was your score like to the ones episode of the HBO mini series "From the Earth to the Moon" that you scored ("We Interrupt This Program")? How did you get on board?

I hardly remember. We were happy with the end result. Tony To liked my work and asked for me and then I met with Tom Hanks...

What was the last film or television project you worked on? Since IMDB is only as complete as submissions given.

I did several projects after. They are listed on IMDB (Turks and Y2K I think)

Have you ever had any scores rejected, or replaced any scores?

I was in progress on a score for "Mists of Avalon" when TNT decided that the director's vision for the music was not compatible with theirs. He wanted very primal music and they wanted pretty Irish music. They hired someone else of their own choosing.
I also started work on "Sgt. Bilko" and was replaced by Alan Silvestri. Never totally understood that one...

I have replaced several scores. "The Serpent and the Rainbow", "Gladiator" (the boxing movie with Cuba Gooding) there might have been a few others, not remembering at the moment.


Thor (
"Ask him about his concert works and oratorios. I think he's written several. Does he plan to release any of them? How do they compare to his film work?"

I haven't written works expressly for concert. I've written for dance and theater in the distant past.

Hedji (
"Would be nice to see what he knows about tapes to Fright Night."

CD of the score is supposed to be released this month.

Corellien2019 (
"... ask Mr. Fiedel to what extent was he involved with the record company to re-release a soundtrack album for T2, and whether they had consulted with Van Ling to see if he had any existing elements of the complete score."

Wasn't involved. I probably got a phone call at one point but wasn't able to help much with additional material. I feel that the original CD had what was important on it. I put that together myself. There were some time constraints, but I think the pieces represent the score pretty well. Actually, I don't really believe that much of that music makes a whole lot of sense away from the visuals.

T'Baio (
"Was he asked back for the last two Terminator movies and turned it down, or did they not bother asking him?"

I was not asked. I did help them put the music together for the advertising for T3. I'm not sorry that I did not score the last two films.

How did you get involved with scoring on "Amazing Stories"? Did you meet Steven Speilberg personally? Were you disappointed neither of the two episodes you composed were included in any of the three volumes Intrada Records released?

They asked for me through my agents. Truthfully, I did not even know about music that was released from them. I don't really follow that stuff very well. I remember one of them about a plane crash had some interesting cues. Not particularly disappointed though. Did not meet Mr. Spielberg.

Having scored a number of science fiction related films, did you ever feel yourself pigeon-holded by the assignments and wish you have gotten more variety?

I got a lot of variety in the span of my career. Sometimes the most interesting projects were for TV. If you read my list of credits you will see that most are not sci fi related. I got to work with many amazing actors in a very wide variety of settings. The action sci-fi projects may have gotten more visibility in some cases, but that doesn't really relate to the body of my work as a whole. I was actually compiling a list recently of some projects and the actors involved, I'll paste it below.

Playing for Time starring Vanessa Redgrave and Jane Alexander
The Bunker starring Anthony Hopkins
Right of Way starring Bette Davis and Jimmy Stewart
The Terminator starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Linda Hamilton
Compromising Positions starring Susan Sarandon and Raul Julia
Fright Night starring Chris Sarandon and Roddy McDowall
Desert Bloom starring Jon Voight, Ellen Barkin, Jobeth Willians and Annabeth Gish
Second Serve starring Vanessa Redgrave
Of Pure Blood starring Lee Remick and Patrick McGoohan
Let's Get Harry starring Robert Duvall, Gary Busey and Mark Harmon
The Big Easy starring Dennis Quaid and Ellen Barkin
The Last Innocent Man starring Ed Harris and Roxanne Hart
The Serpent and the Rainbow starring Bill Pullman
The Accused starring Jodi Foster and Kelly McGillis
True Believer starring James Woods and Robert Downey Jr.
Blue Steel starring Jamie Lee Curtis and Ron Silver
Cold Sassy Tree starring Faye Dunaway and Richard Widmark
Immediate Family starring Glen Close and James Woods
Terminator 2: Judgment Day starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Linda Hamilton
Straight Talk starring Dolly Parton and James Woods
Striking Distance starring Bruce Willis and Sara Jessica Parker
True Lies starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jamie Lee Curtis
Johnny Mnemonic starring Keanu Reeves
Rasputin starring Alan Rickman and Ian McKellan

How do you feel the industry changed from when you started scoring, to when you left off?

Yes. My best work was done without having to deal with temp tracks. I enjoyed working with a clean slate where the filmmakers ears and heads were really open to my original ideas instead of being pre-married to music that from a bunch of other scores that had been put into the cit for screenings. This kind of working condition became more and more rare as time went by. Some composers didn't seem to mind, but it really changed things for me . I was very lucky for many years to get the kind of creative freedom that I had.

In the last couple or so years you've done some interviews and been contacted by people from all over the world; how do you feel about that, and are you happy to have a fanbase that has not forgotten about you?

I am very happy to learn that people were out there really listening to and appreciating the work I had been doing. I may very soon be touring, performing a one man show live, and hope that everyone will come if I get to your area.

Okay, it has to be asked: what was up with the Japanese girl who interviewed you? Did she pass out at any time during the interview from what appears to be near-fatal love for you and your work?

Guess that was just her style. She probably is like that with everybody she interviews....

Are there any scores you've done over your career that you wish were on CD?

Sure. Most are with orchestra and for films that weren't particularly successful so they're probably not financially feasible. a few that come to mind... "Eden", "Rasputin", "Striking Distance", "Johnny Mnemonic".

I understand from a Polish interview you did, you "designed and built a small surf resort on the Pacific coast of Mexico"; can you tell us what lead to such a drastic move? Also, what is the name -- for those curious? And I guess, why not in American, for example a beach somewhere off the coast of California?

I'm a goofy foot surfer so left breaking waves are my favorite. The break in Mexico is one of the longest left breaks around, warm water (no wetsuit) and of course the land was affordable. The name of our place is La Chuparosa de Saladita, about an hour north of Zihuatanejo.

Who are some of your favorite composer?

Too many to name.

Can you name some of your favorite scores?

Too many to name.

What musical instruments do you play? Also, do you play/played any on scores (not limited to your own)?

Keyboards and guitar. I play all the keys on my own score (with a few early exceptions). My electronic scores are performed almost entirely by me with some key soloists, i.e., Ross Levinson on electric violin on a number of those scores including Terminator and "Fright Night".

Have you in fact retired from scoring?

Seems like it. Never say never though....

Can you tell us about any upcoming projects you have?

A theatrical musical and the one man show I mentioned. Someone created a facebook site for me as a composer so I will probably use that for the news on these projects.

Apparently there has been some inaccurate information online as to why you've been absent from the scoring world for many years now; can you clear the air on this, and are chances any good on your returning to scoring?

I've answered this on that composer sight. Long answer....

Finally, if there is anything you'd like to say or talk about, that wasn't asked in this interview, please fell free to do so.

Not really.

Thank you for the interview.

You're welcome.

Published: October 4, 2011

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