2023 Interview with Filmmaker Alex Cox

An extensive interview article I wrote for my longtime friend and frequent collaborator Alex Cox’s blog


ALEX: You’ve been asked this before, I know. But for the record, what is/was the difference between Dan Wool and Pray for Rain. And why?

DAN: The distilled version: Pray for Rain was a band, active in the 1980’s and 90’s that I was in. It had four members and four songwriters (Gary Brown, Paul Trupin, James Woody, and me). We played live, tried to get signed to a label etc, did normal band stuff. Instrumental film score-type composition was something I messed around with on my own, outside of Pray for Rain. When you, surprisingly, accepted my score demos for Sid & Nancy and wanted me to score key scenes in the film (Joe Strummer and The Pogues were already on board to score other scenes), I asked the band to play on the score for those scenes. Since the band was my primary focus, at that time I decided to use Pray for Rain as the screen credit. Exact same thing for the next film, Straight to Hell. Eventually the focus became less and less about the band thing, and Pray for Rain went on to do more scores into the early 2000’s as a film score-collective, often with me as the principal composer, but many were highly collaborative with all members contributing substantially.

ALEX: When we met, you had a different band, or two. What kind of music did you play back then, and how did it change with Pray for Rain?

DAN: When you and I met I was in the band that I moved from St Louis to San Francisco with: The Strikers, later modified to The Model Strikers. We were quasi-post-punk I guess. Meaning influenced by punk bands like The Clash and The Jam, and then later, post-punk bands like Magazine, and New Order. After that I did a solo project called Big Race that then merged with another San Francisco band called Personnel. Big Race seemed like a better band name, so we went with that. Big Race was squarely post-punk with arty English bands as our main influences. By the time our bass player decided to grow up and leave the band a raft of other “Big” bands (Big Country among others) had come on the scene, so when we found a new bass player we used the opportunity to update our handle. The new bass player, Gary Brown, came with a host of new influences. He was fluent in Brazilian, Latin, Funk, Jazz and more. Pray for Rain incorporated those influences into our sound. That diversity didn’t help us get signed to a label, but became extremely valuable a little later when we collaborated on film scores.

ALEX: Do you miss playing live?

DAN: I do not. Actually being on stage and performing was fun, but literally everything else involved with playing a live show (lugging gear, promoting shows, stressing about the draw, having to come up with witty stage banter etc) made me miserable.

ALEX: Of the film scores you’ve written – I know there are a lot of them – which do you particularly like, or feel pleased with?

DAN: That’s a tough one. And there’s a distinction between the scores I had the best experience creating and the ones I’m most pleased with. Whereas Sid & Nancy – the first feature I worked on – was probably the most exciting (a trip to England, hanging out with Joe Strummer and The Pogues, a New York premiere with movie stars), I was never completely satisfied with how the score sounded. I was a total novice as a composer and had spent very little time in a professional recording studio. The results were very good and literally started my career as a composer, but to this day those tracks don’t sound fully baked to me. They don’t completely capture the vibe of the demos that got us the gig.

So the scores I’m most pleased with? I’d say your film, Death and the Compass, is one of my favorite Pray for Rain scores. That one was highly collaborative, with fellow Pray for Rain members Gary Brown and James Woody playing on and co-writing most of it with me. That score allowed us to dive deep into the ‘synth-score’ genre, which we’d never fully explored before. It was also the first feature film we didn’t go into a recording studio to record. It was done entirely in my home studio – a fairly new, and cutting edge approach at the time. No doubt that is a large part of why I’m still happy with it. The gear wasn’t as fancy, but being able to create, perform and mix in the same space without the studio money-clock running made it possible to get everything just-so. Most of the scores I’ve done since then were recorded in my home studio.

Pray for Rain 1993 at Different Fur Studio. Gary Brown, Dan Wool, James Woody

ALEX: I’m glad you’re pleased with Death & the Compass. It’s one of my favourite scores. It feels like you really went for it, with the sheer loudness and brashness of it, and the incorporation of Mexico City street sounds, like
the whistle of the camote cart.

DAN: Another collaborative Pray for Rain score I really like was for a TV movie by David Burton Morris called The Almost Perfect Bank Robbery. It was (obviously) a comedy, and very fun to work on. David gave us a lot of freedom, which always improves the end product. The score was highly eclectic, with tinges of Latin, Folk, Flamenco, Country, Ranchera and more. Plus all kinds of instrumentation – accordions, autoharps, whistling, kazoos. Somehow it all hung together really well. Still does I think

Some scores that I’ve done on my own that I’m happy with are Andrew Chapman’s Standoff. Pray for Rain bass player, Gary Brown, contributed and played on that score, but an extremely tight deadline limited the collaborative possibilities. Perhaps because of the time constraint, I ended up creating a very spontaneous mangled guitar-score that lent itself well to the high-drama the film called for. I’m not usually fond in hindsight of scores that had tight turnarounds, but Standoff is a happy exception.

The scores for your films Three Businessmen, and Searchers 2.0, are definitely on the pleased-with list. Since you generally trust me more than other directors do, and have few notes about what I write, I’m able to spend more time to get things how I hear them. With Three Businessmen I was able to find a vibe for the score that I think was unique and cinematic.

ALEX: In Three Businessmen, there was that musical suggestion of sounds, or instruments, calling out to the protagonists with an urgent message from far away. It was very touching, and in tune with what the producer/writer wanted the film to say.

DAN: Yes, it still holds up well for me. Same with Searchers 2.0. Since you and I were on the same page about the direction of the music I had time create a Western score that I think earnestly builds on Morricone’s style rather than merely exploits or parodies it (although it does those things to an extent as well). I also went all out on making the S2.0 score as legitimately orchestral-sounding as possible. There wasn’t much of a budget but I hired and recorded, in my home studio, several top-drawer live players to sweeten the orchestral samples in the score. It wouldn’t have made the favorites-list without the live players.

ALEX: You visited the Monument Valley set on Searchers 2.0, and stayed with us at Goulding’s Lodge. I always appreciate it if you can take time to do that – to visit the location, smell the actors and hang out with the dust. It has some meaning, I think, beyond watching the footage when the film is done. That was one of the first ‘Dan Wool’ score, wasn’t it?

DAN: There were a number of films, including Standoff, and Three Businessmen, which I did on my own but used Pray for Rain for the screen credit (James Woody did coproduce the end title song for 3B, ‘Ghost Riders in the Sky’ with me). We were still doing other projects as a collective so using that credit made sense from a branding perspective. Searchers 2.0 was the second score I did using ‘Dan Wool’ as a credit. The first was another score for my particularly-like list, Daniel Lee’s Journeyman. Dan is and was the only director to have cold-contacted me via my website to ask for my services. Most of my practice at that time consisted of super-techy synth and sample-based music for advertising. Dan’s request to do his film came at the exact time I was getting sick of doing only ad work. Dan was charming, and his interesting, rather experimental film – made up largely of improvised dialogue – felt like salvation. That score is almost 100% organic instrumentation. Very little tech or synthesis. Mostly guitars and my new (at the time), but very old upright piano. Because there was zero budget, I played everything on the score – and it still came out good!

And that brings us to Phil Tippett’s MAD GOD. I had the aforementioned ‘trust of the director’, and ‘time to create’ in spades on MAD GOD. Not only were Phil and I in complete agreement on the contrapuntal nature of the score. I had over ten years to create it! There was literally no budget for MAD GOD so it stands as the ultimate example of the ‘Good, Cheap, Fast: Pick Two’ model of creative production. Needless to say, I’m happy with that one.

ALEX: How about horrible experiences? Have you had any of those, or has your composing career been all beer and skittles?

DAN: Right. Obviously not all of my film projects have gone smoothly, but I generally like what I do, so a lot of the bumps come under the heading of boring technical difficulties or unclear directions from creatives – which means composing multiple versions of cues until I stumble on what the director is after. And even that is only a problem because of the deadlines inherent in post-production schedules. However, I can relate two war stories that fall mostly under the heading of politics. Paradoxically both projects were among the most positive experiences I’ve had as a composer, and both scores came out really well.

One was the score for David Schwimmer’s (yes, the guy in the TV show Friends) Since You’ve Been Gone. A smart and solid comedy with an insane ensemble cast of trendy 90’s stars (Lara Flynn Boyle, Teri Hatcher, Liev Schreiber, Jon Stewart, Marisa Tomei and more). It was a Miramax production, so the stakes were high for me and my co-writer Gary Brown (screen credit: Pray for Rain). The temp score was all big-band Latin from the 40’s and 50’s which meant we would have the opportunity to record a lot of live players in a nice recording studio (Studio D in Sausalito). Gary had a background in Latin music, playing in some serious heavyweight Latin and Brazilian bands, and by this time I had gotten pretty good at writing in that style. We’d written a few other Latin cues for other films, but this project was much more involved than anything we’d done before in that genre. Gary used his connections in the community to hire the top Latin players in the Bay Area for the sessions (among them Rebeca Mauleón, Karl Perazzo, and Norbert Stachel)

Gary and I did the musical arrangements, but a close friend volunteered to help us create the musical charts for the musicians. The budget for the score was slightly better than we were used to, but the score was quite ambitious. We had to keep it to a two-man operation as much as possible to stay within budget. While my music reading skills are minimal at best, Gary’s are excellent. But since neither of us had experience creating charts for all of the instruments needed for the project, the offer of free help was appreciated. There was a lot of music in the film. It took two very long nights with all three of us working together in my home studio to create and print out all the parts for the players. We finished only a few hours before the recording session began.

The first couple days of the session went fine. For a variety of reasons it was decided to do the recording in sections with basic percussion, bass and piano parts being laid down first so the horns, which are notoriously difficult to record well, would have something to play to. It was horn-day when things went south. It turned out that we got what we paid for in creating the charts. Every horn chart that we’d worked so hard on was wrong. Unusably wrong. So the only thing to do was send all the horn players home (with pay) and hope that their schedules allowed them to come back the next day (to be paid again!). It also meant all the charts had to be corrected that night. And that meant hiring the lead horn player on the session, Norbert Stachel, to stay up with me all night with me to create usable charts. By this time I was already operating on very little sleep, but Norbert, apart from being perhaps the most gifted musician I’ve ever worked with, is very patient and professional. He methodically guided my sleep deprived brain to create all the corrected charts in time for the rescheduled horn session. I never asked what we ended up paying Norbert for the overtime, and the other players to come back, but it all worked out. The chart debacle took a big bite out of how much time we had to record the rest of the score and mix, but somehow nothing about things going to shit mid-process affected the outcome negatively. The added pressure demanded maximum spontaneity and zero overthinking from everyone involved, so I think the chaos actually improved the end product in this case. The result is a somewhat loose but super vibey, authentic Latin-Mambo score that I couldn’t have been prouder of [an excerpt]. This score would have easily made my favorites-list if not for what happened next.

All did not end well. Just before the film’s theatrical release, which would have included a 90s star-studded premier, Harvey Weinstein himself killed the release of the theatrical film with no reason given whatsoever. There were vague assumptions that it was politics, but nothing was stated. I was back in the studio creating mixes for the soundtrack album when I heard the news. Suddenly what I thought was going to be my biggest career boost since Sid & Nancy became a sad, empty hole. The film did get an unannounced release on video a year or so later, but with no promotion it went virtually unnoticed.

I can only think of one thing worse for a composer (not to mention all the other people involved with the film) than having your work capriciously assigned to obscurity, and that situation occurred in my other story of composer woe…

On-site installation mix Anhui China 2017

I also had an absolute blast working on your film The Winner, a dark dramedy set in Las Vegas with another impressive cast (Rebecca DeMornay, Michael Madsen, Vincent D’Onofrio, Billy Bob Thornton, Delroy Lindo, Frank Whaley). The first fun thing about the project was that you arranged for me and my stepbrother, Zander Schloss, to collaborate on the score, something we’d always wanted to do. Also, you thought the maniacal, overwhelming interior sounds of Las Vegas casinos should be woven into the soundtrack, which meant me coming to Las Vegas during production to record the sound of casino interiors for that purpose – composers are often hired after filming is over, so it’s a glamorous treat to get onto a film set. But more than that, before production started, I went to LA to produce and record two songs that Zander and I had written that were to be lip synced to during musical numbers in the film. I even got to be a glorified extra in the film with big gameshow-host hair (the second biggest male hairdo in the film*), and pretend to play keyboards in the on-screen backing band for those numbers.

The focused creative fun continued during the composing of the score, with Zander and I mostly working in our respective cities (he LA, me SF), but then the two of us coming together at my home studio to collaborate on a number of cues and to mix the score. As usual you gave Zander and me a lot of latitude in what music we wrote. The only real direction being that we should use the film’s tilted noir-esque story and characters for inspiration rather than Las Vegas’s crass artificiality. The only hard parameter you insisted on was “no Jazz”. Not only were you not a fan of Jazz (to put it mildly) a Jazz score would be brain-dead obvious for a Las Vegas film-noir. What we ended up with was a dramatic, often experimental, off-the-money anti-Vegas soundtrack that served as counterpoint to frame the characters and the story, in an interesting and unconventional way

Post production was another dream come true. The film was mixed at post-production paradise Skywalker Sound, a short scenic commute from my home in San Francisco. There was no particular reason for me to attend every day of the theatrical mix, but I availed myself of every opportunity to absorb the rustic, but hi-tech, atmosphere, and to feed the animatronic fauna at the elegant and idyllic cutting edge facility.

The film was in the can and all the creatives involved were happy, but again, all did not end well. The score that Zander and I worked so hard on for months hit a brick wall of disapproval by the film’s producer Mark Damon, who without your knowledge or approval commissioned an entirely new score to be composed and mixed into the film. And what genre of music did Mr. Damon impose onto The Winner? That’s right: a Jazz score. Of course you fought vigorously against the changes (Damon had also made a few awful picture cuts), even attempting to take your name off the film as I recall, but producer Damon (a self described music-guy) was intractable in his Jazz-score position, so The Winner was released with music you’ve described as “the kind porno producers buy by the yard” as its underscore.

For a film score composer having your score replaced by another composer’s work is the ultimate drag. Rejection is never pleasant, but rejection after so much hard work, and after getting the director’s enthusiastic approval was devastating. I took solace knowing I’d been on the other end of the stick, once replacing a score by the great Elmer, Bernstein no less! [an experience I wrote about here] So while these types of situations seem completely avoidable in my view, they are an unpleasant fact of the film industry for composers.

There was a silver lining of sorts. The Japanese distributor agreed to distribute “our” version of The Winner (the Japanese are wonderfully respectful of directors’ vision – they even put out a soundtrack CD for The Winner!), so the work survives. In fact, now whenever The Winner pops up on streaming services it’s almost always “our” version, so Mark Damon’s laugh was not the last one.

*I originally had the biggest male hair in the film, but the actor Frank Whaley, who plays an important role in the film, caught a glimpse of me having my hairdo installed and got quite bent out of shape. It seems a great deal of the motivation for his character came from that character’s hair, and he felt strongly that if anyone else on the set (even a background extra) had higher hair than his, his character would be diminished. This high hair discussion all took place out of my ear shot. It took a while for people to figure out if he was serious or not, but he most certainly was. After a long time sitting by myself in Hair & Makeup, the hair person eventually came back in with a ruler, and took my hair down an inch or so. After Whaley came in and checked it, I was allowed to shoot the scene.

Whaley’s eccentric performance, as Joey, is as good a character-actor performance as I’ve ever seen. He created arguably the most interesting and magnetic character in the film. I’ll never know if the hair tantrum was some sort of methody actor Andy Kaufman behavior, or if he was just being a jerk, but since he was pleasant enough to me before and after the hair incident, I’ll assume the former. Either way it was fascinating to get a glimpse of, and take part briefly in what goes on in actor-world.

ALEX: How interesting that both these sad tales took place in the 90s, and were executive-producer-driven! The Winner was the only film I directed which wasn’t “my” film, in the sense that I, like you, was a mere hireling. But I thought we did a good job with the material, and that the cast, the score, and the production design were excellent. Later I wondered if the malfeasant producer had secretly hidden money out of the budget, and if stripping out your score and replacing it with a grossly inferior one was his way of accounting for the missing funds. But who knows? Your original score is quite beautiful, and I’m happy that the Japanese distributor preserved it, and released it on CD.

Let me ask you a somewhat different question. I imagine most people think of you as a film composer, but I know you’ve been up to a lot of other stuff as well. Can you tell us something about your other aural activities?

DAN: For better or, probably for, worse my life in music and sound has been a directionless, meandering road. Just following shiny objects and saying yes to whatever project presents itself isn’t exactly a career-strategy, but it’s led to a lot of wonderful unexpected creative endeavors, while paying the bills.

I’ve always done, and continue to do film score, but sometime in the early aughts the William Morris Agency, who represented me and Pray for Rain, dissolved their film score department. When subsequent agencies proved ineffective I had to get innovative finding work. Around that time my manager, Chris Coyle introduced me to someone that repped a music supervisor who primarily coordinated music for television advertising in Japan, and I became a very active composer in his stable [ad work samples]. I found I absolutely loved that type of work. Japanese advertising is famously deliberately bizarre, and each 15 to 120 second spot was crazier than the last. I learned a ton about composition, style-writing and music production creating hundreds of those short ads. That quickly became the focus of my practice and lasted about ten years until the Japanese economy melted down (along with the Fukushima nuclear power plant) in 2011.


Home studio SF circa 2010

By that time I had made social connections in the Bay Area experimental music scene (for lack of a better term) that mostly grew out of Mills College’s forward-thinking music department. When a friend asked me if I’d be interested in scoring a contemporary dance piece I took advantage of my influences from that scene and jumped in. I adored this work too, but for very different reasons than ad work [contemporary dance work samples]. Dance scores are highly collaborative and extremely open creatively, with few limitations compared to advertising or film. Contemporary Dance then became my primary career focus until around 2016 when it overlapped with the next chapter.

While working on your films Searchers 2.0 and Repo Chick I met Phil Tippett, whose visual effects studio in Berkeley was doing the CG for those films. He recruited me to work on what was then his side passion-project, a short stop-motion film called MAD GOD (this project continued on for ten years for me and ultimately developed into a highly acclaimed feature film released in 2022). While having a meeting at Tippett Studio about that film, one day Phil and his wife, Tippett Studio CEO Jules Roman, asked me if I’d be into doing the music for a domed flying theatre ride-experience in China that the studio had been contracted to create the media for. Jules and Phil were familiar with my film scores and had also come to several of the dance pieces I had worked on. At least a couple of those pieces were multi-channel immersive audio sound-installations. Since the Chinese fly ride also required a multi-channel mix they thought I’d also be a good choice to create the sound design and mix the project on-site in China. Gigs that weird don’t come along every day so of course I jumped at the opportunity and now that shiny object became my career focus.

I worked with Tippett Studio on two more similar Chinese flying theatre projects and was in development on two others when the pandemic made everything weird. Creating audio-media for what’s referred to as “dark rides” or “themed entertainment” is arguably the least sexy and most corporate work I’ve ever done, but it utilizes everything I’ve learned doing film, advertising, and performance installations at once and sits in the sweet-spot of my skill-set [themed entertainment work samples].

So…Film Score > then Advertising > then Dance > then Dark Rides are the broad strokes of my timeline to date, but of course they’ve all overlapped at times, and still do. Some of my career also-rans so far: I’ve recorded and produced bands and artists extensively. I’ve done a lot of scores and sound design for documentaries. Audio-design for corporate branding. Corporate sound logos (including those little things that flash by after TV shows – I get a quarter in residuals every time Family Feud is aired). Multi-channel audio installations for museums and art galleries. I did sound and music for streaming channel SHUDDER’s annual Halloween “Ghoul Log” last year. You once got me a gig recreating the voice of Ernest Borgnine and other actors, plus the sound design in several scenes of a Spaghetti Western where the sound had been lost (this meant engaging a lip reader to determine what the missing dialogue was, and hiring an Ernest Borgnine impersonator) For two years I was on retainer by the US Olympic Synchronized Swimming Team for musical services. So essentially I’ll do anything if you pay me.…or even if you don’t.

ALEX: You mentioned sound design on several projects. Is that something you want to do more of?

It is! It’s becoming a bit of a passion. I’ve done sound design on a fair amount projects over the years. Short films, docs, ads, corporate videos etc. The dance compositions I mentioned usually have a sound design component too, but the Tippett Studio ride projects really allowed me to get much further into conventional sound effects and sound design and mixing. Most of the sound design work to picture I’d done before that was on the creative and arty side, and delivered in stereo only. The dark ride experiences need to be very precise, hyper-real and delivered in anywhere from stereo, to 5.1 channel, to 20.1 channel audio and beyond. It also meant I had to get up to speed on recording my own effects (a field recording rig etc), rather than relying on sound effects libraries, plus installing a surround mixing environment in my studio.

I realized at a certain point that my path to knowing what I was doing as a sound designer was happening in backwards order. My earlier mixes to picture were descent enough I think, but having to deliver straight up, conventional sound on some projects has given me more of a foundation to work from. I’m a lot more comfortable now in that role than I once was – I now feel that since I know a little more about the rules of sound design, that I have a bit of authority to break them. Also, I have about the best consultant/mentor a sound designer could have. Richard Beggs (Apocalypse Now, Repo Man, Lost in Translation, Harry Potter, and many more), who I met from working on your films, and whom I worked closely with on MAD GOD is inexplicably generous and patient with me, and is always up for answering my stupid questions. He’s also good at being quite blunt when evaluating any mixes I run by him. To my point regarding ‘the rules of sound design’, Richard’s vast experience and technical knowhow gives him near unconditional authority to be as creative as he wants to be with sound. I’m nowhere near that level of course, but his example is something I always have in mind when I have my sound designer hat on.

In fact the coolest projects I’ve done so far this year (2023) are, sound design projects (mostly). A 5.1 theatrical mix for the short film “Living in the Time of Uncertainty” an ambient experimental film by artist and filmmaker Masha Kechaeva that premiered at SF’s Roxie Theatre in July. And music, sound design and 5.1 theatrical mix for your film, “Eventos En El Campo”, another largely ambient, rather experimental film that will premiere at the Almeria Western Film Festival later this year. I’m not sure if it’s possible to make a living being an experimental ambient film sound designer and mixer, but it’s looking like that might be my next shiny object.


Performance installation tech rehearsal 2014 (Megan Kurashige)

ALEX: What inspired me to interview you was a story you told about having to defend your own material against a YouTube copyright claim, and make a video to do it. Since I’m very interested in the misuse of copyright law by big corporations, I wonder if you could tell that tale.

DAN: Sure. It gets boring and lawyerly fast, but some of us are into that sort of thing.

Every few years since there’s been an internet, someone has emailed me to ask if they could license a piece of music from the Sid & Nancy soundtrack for their film, or whatever. Since I don’t own the rights to that music I would have to say, sorry no. That score was a work-for-hire, so the production company (considered the publisher of the music) is the only entity authorized to license it. This is a standard composer arrangement, by the way. Only on smaller, low budget productions, where the composer is under (or not) paid is the composer ever allowed to retain full ownership of the music. Larger productions, network projects etc. typically require the composer to give up the publishing rights to the score they’ve been hired to create if they want the gig.

There is however a maneuver artists can do to regain control of their music, and that is to re-record the music themselves. Since the arrangement above only pertains to the actual recordings of the music (not the music itself) that means they (the artist) would own the new recordings and the music. Taylor Swift famously is re-recording and releasing her entire catalogue from before 2019, to regain full control of her work (Swift is not a film composer of course, but the terms of the contract she signed as a young artist adds up to the identical situation). When someone contacted me recently to ask about licensing a Sid & Nancy track I decided to be like Taylor and re-record those old tracks for the same reason she did.

The redos came out pretty good (they are here – still working on “Off the Boat”). It was fun trying to recreate those old recordings using modern tools. People super familiar with the original versions might notice differences, if they’re listening for them, but the soundalikes are decent enough. But you know who definitely was fooled by these re-recorded tracks? YouTube’s listening-bots. Partly as a test to see if YouTube would allow me to upload these new recordings I decided to upload the tracks to my YouTube Channel (YouTube has algorithms in place to prevent uploaders from uploading copyrighted content). Before the first video (Taxi to Heaven 2023) even finished uploading (with just a still photo as the video. no scenes from the film) I got a Copyright Infringement notice via email. Universal Music Publishing was claiming the copyrights for the recording I had just created.

The notice assured me that the infringement wasn’t considered a “Copyright Strike” yet – a host of odious things can occur if you get a Copyright Strike apparently, including but not limited to being sent to “YouTube copyright school” (not kidding)! The notice said that the video wouldn’t be taken down, but I couldn’t monetize it. Not that the track would be a big earner, but since the point of redoing the tracks from Sid & Nancy was to regain full control of my music I clicked the “dispute claim” button provided on the internet form. That allowed me to submit a written explanation as to why Universal’s copyright claim was invalid. This seemed reasonable enough, but after submitting two more Sid & Nancy tracks (and the subsequent “dispute-claim” forms) I got a notice saying that my entire channel had been demonetized because of “reused” content. An odd, vague term but I figured it had to be referring to the problematic Sid & Nancy tracks. This notice said I could wait 90 days, at which time the issue would be reviewed again (by another bot?), or I could create a video of myself explaining why my channel shouldn’t have been demonetized. Among other weirdly specific criteria the video needed to adhere to was, the video had to be less than five minutes long, and had to explain and demonstrate my video creation process. I opted to jump through that hoop. If I’d have known my YouTube gravel-video would be seen by anyone other than the bots at YouTube I might have put a little more into it (it’s here), but it did the job. Within 24 hours of submitting the video my site was re-monetized and I was a happy capitalist once again.

ALEX: Thank you for this explanation! And congratulations on the copyright recapture. I was able to recapture the US rights to the Repo Man script, too, so who knows? Maybe we’ll soon be working on the Repo Man sequel…

DAN: Or Sid & Nancy 2.

ALEX: Yes! So what’s next for you?

DAN: On the front burner at the moment is a cinematic sound-effects-centric remix of the score for Phil Tippett’s MAD GOD. Waxwork Records put out a beautiful double-vinyl package of the score (also on CD) that I consider the official MAD GOD soundtrack album. This will be something more for cinephiles and hardcore MAD GOD fans, that incorporates a lot more of the odd and innovative sound effects by the film’s sound designer, Richard Beggs. I worked closely with Richard for many years on that film. The compositions were often built around his sound effects so I became acutely accustomed to hearing them, and miss them when they’re absent. I’m thinking others may appreciate such an album too (now done! available on Bandcamp).

Other than that, there’s a dark ride project coming down the pike later this year and into 2024. Also a contemporary dance installation commission that will be performed in SF and LA summer of 2024. In 2025 the Musée Cinéma & Miniature in Lyon is mounting a Phil Tippett retrospective that will include an immersive MAD GOD installation that I’ll be involved with. It’s looking like I’ll be in Spain this fall to attend the Almeria premiere of your film, the aforementioned “Eventos En El Campo” for which I did sound and music, and then also going to the Sitges Film Festival in Catalonia with Phil for a screening of MAD GOD, and where he will also receive a lifetime achievement award. So a fair amount going on, but I’ll happily can it all if the Repo Man sequel comes together, Alex. Fingers crossed.


Home studio 2023