Music can make or break a movie. This has become a mantra of sorts for Joseph Miller ’04, an adjunct professor of music at Winthrop who composes scores feature-length and short films and other media. His latest project involves composing a film score for director Jeremy Zerechak’s documentary "Code 2600," a chronicle of the history of network security threats that explores the culture and mentality of computer hackers.
Miller, who earned a degree in guitar performance at Winthrop, relishes the main challenge that comes with scoring a film. "It’s a real balancing act. I don’t want to break the immersive experience, and music can pull the audience out of the film," he said. The ultimate goal of a score, Miller explained, is to create music that expresses his artistic vision and helps "shape the audience’s perception of a subject."
Miller worked previously with Zerechak on his 2008 documentary "Land of Confusion," which followed a Pennsylvania National Guard unit seeking proof of WMDs in Iraq. Miller composed the score, but he also completed the audio post-production and handled the mixing and editing as well as noise reduction. "Land of Confusion" went on to earn awards at the Atlanta, Philadelphia and Florida International Film Festivals.
In addition to his work on films, Miller has scored promotional trailers, video games, commercials and theatre productions, including Shakespeare Carolina’s June 2010 production "Macbeth." His collaborative efforts with Winthrop flute instructor Jill O’Neill on the production’s score won two 2009-10 Metrolina Theatre Association awards: Best Original Music Composition and Best Sound Design.
Miller plans to continue composing original scores for films – he hopes one day to score a drama – and other media, pushing himself to meet the challenges of balancing directors’ expectations with his own creative vision. No matter the challenges, though, for Miller it doesn’t get any better than observing the audience’s reaction. "It’s rewarding and fascinating," he said.
Last updated: 03/28/2011