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JOHN DEBNEY

Interview by Richard Swift

We understand you have a personal relationship with Burbank. Can you explain?

I do have a personal relationship with Burbank. I live in Burbank, and I was born and raised in a town next door to Burbank and that town was Glendale. So, I've really lived my whole life within the Burbank/Glendale area. Burbank holds a special place in my heart, because it's, again, where I live and where I raised my kids.

John Debney How did you get involved with the Burbank International Film Festival?

They approached me about a year ago, being that I'm a longtime resident of Burbank, and asked if I'd be involved, and then they mentioned that they'd like to give me an award for Achievement in Film Music. I was very honored, and so, we're looking forward to it, and we're going to do a live performance also at night.

You received an Academy Award Nomination for your score to "The Passion of the Christ," while you were writing the score did you think "I should get an Academy Award for this score," and if so, do you feel this way when creating all of your scores?

No, I really don't look at it that way when I'm beginning to work on a score, and in that particular case, it was rather a sort of a fluke that I even became involved with it, so I really didn't think a lot about any kind of Academy Award consideration while I was doing it. We were just mostly concerned with trying to get the right tones for the movie and trying to get the right balance of ethnic flavor and western flavored music. So, it was more just about trying to find the right tone for the movie.

If you were able to hand pick the next film you were to score, what type of film would you choose? With the wide variety of films you have scored, do you have a favorite genre or a genre that you have yet to explore and really want to?

Well, I would love to do more dramatic movies. I think any kind of a small personal dramatic movie would be really exciting to me. I scored a film coming out this year called The Stoning of Soraya M., and that was a rewarding experience. If I had a choice, I'd love to do more films along that line.

When did you decide that you wanted to be a film composer?

Boy, I must have decided that sometime during my college years, because I was a double major: music and drama, and of the two, I decided at the beginning of junior year that I really wanted to pursue music.

Have any of your three sons followed in your footsteps?

Well, interestingly enough, two of them are musical. My oldest, Josh is quite talented, and I'm hoping something will happen with his music. He is in a band and trying to get a record deal. My other two son Jason and John are musical, but they don't have any aspirations to be professional musicians.

Tell me about The Passion: Symphony?

It came out of a desire to expand and explore more of the music that I wrote for the film. The opportunity arose for me to write a large classical work, and so I decided to embark on the journey to write the Passion Symphony or the Passion Oratorio, as it's now called. It's a major work for choir and orchestra. We premiered it in Rome a couple of years ago, and we're going to be doing another huge concert in 2010 in St. Peter's Square at The Vatican.

What projects are you currently working on?

Right now I'm working on A Thousand Words, which is for Paramount, with Eddie Murphy, and it's a dramedy. And I'm also working on a fun movie with kids and aliens called They Came From Upstairs for Fox. And so they're very different projects but they're nonetheless really fun to work on.


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