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The Goldbergs - Interview with Composer Michael Wandmacher

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ABC's comedy, The Goldbergs, is underway for its fifth season. Here's an interesting interview with series composer Michael Wandmacher.

What can you tell us about the new season of "The Goldbergs”?

The biggest change is that Erica has left for college, adding a whole new level of chaos to the family dynamic as Beverly struggles to deal with her first child leaving the nest. It makes for some really funny, heartfelt stuff!

Musically, what are you doing differently this season than past ones?

The musical footprint of the show has remained pretty much the same throughout every season. It’s very important to the producers that The Goldbergs has a sound all its own. They want viewers to be able to be in another room, hear the music and know that The Goldbergs is on TV. So, the sonic template I developed early on still serves as the foundation for the score.

Out of all the seasons what has been your favorite episode to score & why?

That’s a really tough question. I’ve enjoyed working on all of them! There are some favorite moments for sure, but each episode is a blast. Creating the beats for Big Tasty is something I especially look forward to.

How is scoring a show like "The Goldbergs" different than scoring a film such as "Voice From the Stone" for which you are currently World Soundtrack Award nominated, congrats?

Thanks! Actually, they’re completely different animals. Different genres, formats, pacing, you name it. The Goldbergs is always bright and colorful, fun and full of energy. It’s also a “band”-type score. Kind of like writing a bunch of little songs with a five-piece combo. Voice From the Stone is a haunting, mysterious and lush orchestral palette, walking the line between being fearfully tense and darkly romantic.

What kind of equipment, software and instruments do you rely on for your scoring work?

Like most composers, I have a bank of computers hosting terabytes of samples that I use for orchestral and electronic mockups. As well as a bunch of hardware synths, acoustic instruments and other toys. For something like The Goldbergs I play all the instruments live for the bulk of the music. Each project requires a different setup combining computers, electronics and live instruments.

From your unique perspective, where do you think the film and television industry is heading in the near future? Are there any new innovations that are in their infancy? In particular, what do you see as the biggest opportunities and obstacles you'll have to face as a composer?

The biggest shift is content coming out on streaming services like Netflix and Amazon. In just a few years, both have become major players in the industry and they generate a massive amount of content that’s of very high quality. Judging from what’s on their slates, as well as other streaming services, their output is only going to grow. This content seems to be filling the space where mid-budget features used to dominate in terms of budgets and creative opportunities. As a composer, it’s great because there’s more work in every genre and style. So, if you have a favorite, there’s more to pursue!

Since you started out, what do you think are the biggest changes that the film and television industry has experienced from your point of view as a composer?

Television production is exploding while film production seems to be contracting. And what constitutes “TV” work has changed radically. Episodic network television is now just one segment of the industry with cable, pay cable, VOD and streaming eating up huge audience segments. As for film, it’s hard to tell how things are going to play out. Tentpole films, like superhero movies, will always be at the cineplex, but it seems that a lot of other film production is moving towards VOD as its primary distribution outlet. I’ll be very curious to see where we’re at in five years.

To finish up, what are the most challenging, and the most rewarding parts of your job?

The most challenging part is staying creative under pressure. The ideas and output have to keep coming, regardless of how you feel or what else may be going on in your life. The most rewarding part is when the vision becomes reality and all the work evolves into something the filmmakers and producers are happy with and that you can be proud of. As a composer, that’s the ultimate goal.

Thanks to Nichael for taking the time to share his knowledge about the show and his profession with us. Read more about The Goldbergs on SpoilerTV here.

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