[The Film Issue]

Local musicians use their talents for movie scores

Local musician David Rosen has already scored one feature film, and he’s currently working on two Nevada-produced features.
Photo: Gina Mizzoni
Jason Harris

Think about The Godfather. Would Vito Corleone be as cool and calculating without that iconic theme song? Now try Star Wars. Would you feel as intimidated by Darth Vader if he wasn’t marching to that nasty background music? Music is essential to movies, but according to local film composer David Rosen, at least on the independent level, it’s often overlooked. “Score is always the last thing they think about, for better or worse,” Rosen says.

Rosen is a self-taught musician better known by his comedy rap alias Jewish Dave, and his family owns Wax Trax Records. Besides being a big movie fan, he felt that film scoring suited his personality. “I love the idea of making music completely by myself,” he says. “Film score seems like the best way to do something like that and have people actually hear it.”

Until this past summer, most of Rosen’s work came from scouring the Internet, and very little of it was based in Vegas. Recently, though, Rosen finished scoring his first feature (director Chase Caldwell’s I Did), and he’s set to score two Nevada-produced features, Douglas Farra’s Finding the Truth and the Chad Clinton Freeman/Jack Hunter project Paranoia Tapes.

Jackson Wilcox, lead singer of rock band A Crowd of Small Adventures, had already scored a few shorts and the feature film Thor at the Bus Stop from directing team Jerry and Mike Thompson. For the Thompsons’ new project, the Western Popovich and the Voice of the Fabled American West, Wilcox recruited music producer and Most Thieves band member Erik Rickey to join him. “It was the easiest, most stress-free recording/writing situation I’ve ever been in,” Wilcox says.

Rickey found the experience totally different from writing music for his band. “There’s an immediate satisfaction when you get it right,” he says. “With songwriting, I’m not sure if you’re ever really sure or sold. With film, as soon as we hit something right, it was like, ‘Oh, that feels really good.’”

With the expanding local film scene and the passing of a new tax incentive that will bring more projects to town, Wilcox, Rickey and Rosen are all hopeful they could be working full-time as film composers soon enough. Says Rickey, “If that was our thing, what a cool job.”

  • From Avengers: Endgame to Toy Story 4 to Tarantino and beyond.

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  • This year’s event features another packed lineup of short films, with more than 120 selections spread over 20-plus thematic programs and four days.

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