Today we are talking to Greek-American composer Jay Lifton. Jay holds a BA in Music from Tufts University and an MM in Jazz Studies from the New England Conservatory of Music. In 2014 Jay wrote, directed and directed his own short film, Test, which has performed in over 50 festivals around the world and won four awards. Jay’s recent projects include drama Nia on vacation and functionality Groom’s sister with Alicia Silverstone, Tom Everett Scott and Mark Blum. His next series Hudson falls, starring Richard Kind and Jessica Hecht, will be released in June. Jay has a deep understanding of music and we can’t wait to share this interview with you.
Hi Jay! How have you been
Like everyone else, worn out! My family is healthy and I am optimistic this will end.
What it is to work with collaborators as efficient as those on Groom’s sister? Tell us about your working relationship and your contacts with them.
It was my second movie with Amy so we took over. We tend to find the same funny things and enjoy many of the same movies that both times made solid benchmarks. I am very interested in how she will develop as a filmmaker.
You brought a unique approach A recipe for seduction. Can you take us behind one or two of your favorite scenes? Tell us about your process and how you decide on the right way to approach it.
I loved the way Mario Lopez played the part as seriously as he could – literally no recognition of the absurdity. I took this as a suggestion for the music, that it should be serious and never wink at the camera, so to speak. I’ve known the creators (JEAN Creative) for years and we’re extremely like-minded people, which makes for a fun collaboration.
Let’s talk about your film festival awards. Do you have a favorite?
I was very happy to see “Commercials” win the best comedy series at LA Shorts last year. It is a sort of esoteric and subversive spectacle.
Did you discuss character scoring in Groom’s sister in a specific way at all?
Absolutely! I took a very traditional approach to this movie and I like the themes of the characters. Film music has become more and more melodic over the past 10 years and I was happy to write a score that had real motives. Alicia Silverstone’s (Audrey) music first reflects her perception of the constraints of life, responding to the expectations of others. Towards the end of the movie, you can hear her theme somewhat released when she comes to terms with her demons.
What are your other favorite past projects?
Last summer I worked on a movie called ‘Nia on Vacation’ (Cat Papadimitriou) which was set in Greece, which as a Greek I’m particularly interested in, especially to incorporate pieces of Greek music. in the otherwise ambient partition. I also worked on the cult series “Greg the Bunny” years ago and I can’t say enough good things about the series or the people I have worked with (Sean Baker, Blake Ashman, Dan Milano, Spencer Chinoy).
What other challenges have you encountered with Groom’s sister? How did you overcome them?
The most important thing was to write music to play on set, live. There are tons of variables, especially the weather and humidity on the set – it was raining every now and then all week so things just stopped and started again. The DA may not be able to allow you to replay the song if the rest of the scene was perfect. You really can’t rehearse too much! I couldn’t have done this without (Music Supervisor) Katy McIlvane and guitarist Vinny Raniolo – every second of downtime they were working on parts and fixing the bad spots. The advantage of working this way is that much of the music was written before any temporary sheet music. It was an extremely enriching experience.
What else is going on in your world?
I’m about to work on an upcoming pilot called “Hudson Falls,” which stars Jessica Hecht (The Sinner) and Richard Kind (Curb Your Enthusiasm, The Goldbergs). I can’t wait to have a real summer vacation with my family.
You can read more about Jay on his website https://www.jaylifton.com/ – Thanks for the reading!