Many great films have an equally great soundtrack to accompany the picture. It is the music that can elevate a film to the next level. Originally used as a tool to mask the sounds of the projector, musical scores have since become synonymous within film. No doubt every person can name their favorite film score, whether it’s a Zimmerman, Williams, Elfman, or any other offering from the many great composers in the industry. This week’s Featured FearMaker not only writes scores, but he actually made a short film just to practice his music writing abilities. Brian Davis and his team at Grave Tone Productions are making waves with their music, but first, here’a little more about Brian.
Born and raised in Houston, Texas, Brian has always had a love affair with the horror genre. Ever since first watching John Carpenter’s Halloween at the age of eight, he has been fascinated by the genre. It was the 80’s horror that really turned him into a fan. “I simply liked the uneasy feeling and the anticipation.” Brian has been a professional musician, specifically drumming, since he was 19 years old. His path to film making came through his work providing music for haunted attractions. This segued in into a career scoring short films. Along with a some friends, Brian started Grave Tone Productions, a company designed specifically to score horror films.
Through Grave Tone, Brian was able to make some great music, which was acclaimed by critics. They made a couple music videos to showcase their works, but there was still something missing. Brian and his team decided that they would have to make a short film to get some practice at making a score. This is like saying you’re going to build a car engine to practice changing the oil. They gathered up all they could and set out to make their first short film Whose There?
“I was blown away by the attention to detail that it required to take it from an idea on paper to an actual short film” -Brian Davis
Under the company name of iKILLu Media, the Grave Tone team set out to make a film. Written and directed by Brian Davis and Jay Brooks, The sixteen minute short film takes place on Halloween night, we follow a man giving out treats, played by Jay Brooks. A mysterious young masked person keeps returning for treats, but gets a couple tricks as well. The short film, which was originally made purely to practice scoring, took on a life of it’s own as it traveled from one horror site to another, gathering critics attention.
It’s no surprise that Brian Davis is heavily inspired by John Caprenter. “I’m inspired by anyone taking the time and effort to write and create music and/or films to keep the horror genre alive!” Each specialty career within film (i.e. director, writer, composer, etc.) changes the way they watch films. For example, a director might notice some interesting camera angles, while a gaffer might point out some cool lighting trick they plan on using in their next project. Writing, directing, and scoring your own film changes the way films are watched entirely. For Brian, that meant noticing much more detail in films, as well as catching inconsistencies, mistakes, and interesting camera tricks. This change in the film watching dynamic is a side effect which has its perks. Much like horror icon John Carpenter, who famously scored his own film Halloween, Brian is building himself a one man creative team. This allows for specific planning of moods and swells within the music, as well as designing the film to flow flawlessly between score and screen.
While Brian Davis is on a similar path career-wise to Carpenter, there is a huge distinction. Carpenterwas a filmmaker turned composer, Brian is a composer turned filmmaker. The latter is much more difficult, as there are a lot more moving parts in creating a film. With this kind of dedication to his craft, along with an insatiable work ethic, Brian Davis is shaping up to be a powerhouse filmmaker.