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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    UA Alumnus lends touch to zombie flick

    Looks like UA graduate Jason Brandt was up all night again finishing the score for Night of the Living Dead 3D. It might take more than coffee to perk him up.
    Looks like UA graduate Jason Brandt was up all night again finishing the score for “”Night of the Living Dead 3D.”” It might take more than coffee to perk him up.

    Everyone loves a good zombie-horror flick. Chances are we’ve all jumped in our seats at one point or another when a maggot-infested face popped up on screen, or a scantily-clad co-ed got chased by a horde of undead. Undoubtedly, just as frightening as what we see on the screen is what we hear from the speakers. Anyone who’s seen these movies knows that the sudden scares on screen wouldn’t be half as effective without people like Jason Brandt.

    Brandt is a UA alumnus who graduated in 1998 with a bachelor of arts in music composition, where he studied under instructors Daniel Asia and Jeffrey Haskell, among others. His major motion picture debut as a film composer is “”Night of the Living Dead 3D,”” a re-telling of the cult classic that is playing now in theaters across the United States. In addition to composing the score, Brandt also appears in the film as a zombie.

    “”I’ve wanted to make music since I was a kid,”” Brandt said. “”The real tricky thing was the decision to do it for film.””

    After graduating and moving to Phoenix, and then to Los Angeles, Brandt began making the climb from scoring student films and shorts to national television shows.

    “”‘American Chopper’ and ‘American Hot Rod’ are the first professional shows I did that you can go out there and watch,”” Brandt said. Other television credits include ‘The Ellen DeGeneres Show’ and ‘Extra.’

    Brandt enjoys the variety that comes with writing music for different genres.

    “”For films you can do techno or jazz or rock,”” he said. When it came to scoring “”Night of the Living Dead 3D,”” Brandt knew what a film like this called for.

    “”There’s a certain vocabulary that horror films seem to have,”” he said. “”These days it’s very simple and ambient. It’s much more subliminal. I basically just find a way to make it as scary as possible.””

    Skilled in both electric and acoustic guitar, as well as piano and mandolin, Brandt has had a rather prolific start to his career, personally scoring over 50 short films since the late ’90s.

    “”If you want to do this for a living, you have to do 110 percent all the time,”” he said. “”Be as passionate as you can. If you won’t do it, somebody else will, and they’ll do it for less money.””

    All of his work has paid off, with a solid method of creating the appropriate musical elements for each individual project.

    “”Ultimately, the first thing you work on with every film is to just work on the tone of the film, then build up your palette, then your themes,”” he said. “”Go from there under the guidance of the director.””

    Brandt keeps in touch with other UA graduates who have made their way out to Hollywood, such as Lisa Fowle, the music editor on “”Night of the Living Dead 3D.””.

    “”We all try to get each other gigs,”” Brandt said.

    Despite the steady stream of work, he’s nowhere near satisfied.

    “”The ultimate goal is to get work with the big guys, like (Steven) Spielberg and (George) Lucas,”” Brandt said. “”Working with a live orchestra is a big deal, too.””

    Brandt has some advice for all aspiring composers out there who want to make their living in Hollywood.

    “”It sounds clichǸ, but don’t ever give up,”” he said. “”It’s all out there if you want it. There’s hope. Some of the most talented people in the world aren’t going to get work because they’re not passionate enough or fun enough.””

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