John Debney

Composer


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In his three-hour interview, John Debney talks about his early years, and becoming a gofer at Disney. He recalls his earliest composing work for The Wonderful World of Disney, and eventually working for television composer Mike Post. He describes composing for several series, including The Young Riders (for which he received an Emmy Award), seaQuest DSV, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Sisters, and Hatfields & McCoys. Debney discusses the craft of composing for television and features, detailing his day-to-day activities working on projects. He chronicles working on several feature films like "Hocus Pocus," "Elf," "Liar Liar," and "The Passion of the Christ," as well as his relationships with directors Garry Marshall, Robert Rodriguez, and Jon Favreau. Jon Burlingame conducted the interview in a joint venture with the Film Music Foundation on August 1, 2017 in Burbank, CA.

"I had to write. I had to write those songs. If I didn’t, I’d explode. I had get it out. And I still feel that way."

People Talking About ...
Highlights
John Debney on composing for The Young Riders
John Debney on working with composer Mike Post
John Debney on composing for various Garry Marshall feature films
John Debney on what music does for a television show or movie
John Debney on composing for the feature film "Elf," and other features for director Jon Favreau, including "The Jungle Book"
John Debney on going to work at Disney as a gofer, and on his mentor, Buddy Baker
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his early life and influences; on his father meeting and working for Walt Disney; on realizing he wanted to compose for film, and on meeting Disney songwriters
On going to work at Disney as a gofer, and on his mentor, Buddy Baker; on his first screen credit, for The Wonderful World of Disney; on working as a composer for the Disney Channel, and on meeting composer Mike Post
On composing for Fame; on conducting his music; on composing for animation, including The Flintstones and Scooby Doo
On composing for The Young Riders; on composing for seaQuest DSV for executive producer Steven Spielberg; on composing for Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: The Next Generation
On composing for different genres; on composing the theme song for Sisters; on composing for Hatfields & McCoys, Texas Rising, and Bonnie and Clyde

Chapter 2

On composing for Flint; on what music does for a television show or movie; on using an orchestrator, and on visiting sets
On rituals he has when composing; on composing for various feature films
On the differences between composing for animation, for television, and for features; on composing for various Garry Marshall feature films; on composing for the feature film "Elf," and other features for director Jon Favreau, including "The Jungle Book"
On using a choir in film scores; on composing for "The Passion of the Christ"; on the business aspect of composing for films
On his style; on his proudest career achievement; on advice to an aspiring film and television composer
On his then-future; on how he would like to be remembered
Shows

Emmy Awards, The (Primetime and Daytime)

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John Debney on winning an Emmy for composing for The Young Riders

Fame (1982-87)

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John Debney on composing for Fame

Sisters

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John Debney on composing the theme song for Sisters

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

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John Debney on composing for Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: The Next Generation

Star Trek: The Next Generation

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John Debney on composing for Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: The Next Generation

Wonderful World of Disney, The aka Magical World of Disney, The

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John Debney on his first screen credit, for The Wonderful World of Disney
Topics

Advice

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John Debney on advice to an aspiring film and television composer

Creative Influences and Inspiration

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John Debney on going to work at Disney as a gofer, and on his mentor, Buddy Baker

Emmy Awards

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John Debney on winning an Emmy for composing for The Young Riders

Pivotal Career Moments

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John Debney on going to work at Disney as a gofer, and on his mentor, Buddy Baker

Television Industry

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John Debney on advice to an aspiring film and television composer
Professions

Composer

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John Debney on conducting his music
John Debney on composing for different genres
John Debney on what music does for a television show or movie
John Debney on using an orchestrator, and on visiting sets
John Debney on rituals he has when composing
John Debney on the differences between composing for animation, for television, and for features
John Debney on using choirs in his work
John Debney on the business aspect of composing for films
John Debney on advice to an aspiring film and television composer

Music Professionals

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John Debney on conducting his music
John Debney on composing for different genres
John Debney on what music does for a television show or movie
John Debney on using an orchestrator, and on visiting sets
John Debney on rituals he has when composing
John Debney on the differences between composing for animation, for television, and for features
John Debney on using choirs in his work
John Debney on the business aspect of composing for films
John Debney on his style
John Debney on advice to an aspiring film and television composer

Musician

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John Debney on his style
Genres

Adventure/Espionage Series

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John Debney on composing for seaQuest DSV for executive producer Steven Spielberg

Animation

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John Debney on composing for animation, including The Flintstones and Scooby Doo

Children's Programming

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John Debney on his first screen credit, for The Wonderful World of Disney

Drama Series

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John Debney on composing for Fame
John Debney on composing the theme song for Sisters
John Debney on composing for Hatfields & McCoys and Texas Rising
John Debney on composing for Bonnie and Clyde

Sci-Fi/Supernatural Series

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John Debney on composing for Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: The Next Generation

Western Series

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John Debney on composing for The Young Riders
People

Buddy Baker

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John Debney on going to work at Disney as a gofer, and on his mentor, Buddy Baker

Walt Disney

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John Debney on his father meeting and working for Walt Disney

Garry Marshall

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John Debney on composing for various Garry Marshall feature films, and on composing for "Cutthroat Island"
John Debney on composing for various Garry Marshall feature films

Mike Post

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John Debney on working with composer Mike Post

Steven Spielberg

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John Debney on composing for seaQuest DSV for executive producer Steven Spielberg

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