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."

Highlights
John Debney on composing for The Young Riders
03:08
John Debney on working with composer Mike Post
02:24
John Debney on composing for various Garry Marshall feature films
06:03
John Debney on what music does for a television show or movie
04:47
John Debney on composing for the feature film "Elf," and other features for director Jon Favreau, including "The Jungle Book"
13:14
John Debney on going to work at Disney as a gofer, and on his mentor, Buddy Baker
06:33
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
14:57
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
14:43
On composing for Fame; on conducting his music; on composing for animation, including The Flintstones and Scooby Doo
13:42
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
17:02
On composing for different genres; on composing the theme song for Sisters; on composing for Hatfields & McCoys, Texas Rising, and Bonnie and Clyde
20:44

Chapter 2

On composing for Flint; on what music does for a television show or movie; on using an orchestrator, and on visiting sets
10:32
On rituals he has when composing; on composing for various feature films
12:25
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"
25:14
On using a choir in film scores; on composing for "The Passion of the Christ"; on the business aspect of composing for films
17:58
On his style; on his proudest career achievement; on advice to an aspiring film and television composer
08:11
On his then-future; on how he would like to be remembered
03:25
Shows

Emmy Awards, The (Primetime and Daytime)

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John Debney on winning an Emmy for composing for The Young Riders
03:02

Fame (1982-87)

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John Debney on composing for Fame
05:17

Sisters

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John Debney on composing the theme song for Sisters
02:32

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
03:10

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
03:10

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
02:44
Topics

Advice

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John Debney on advice to an aspiring film and television composer
04:46

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
06:33

Emmy Awards

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John Debney on winning an Emmy for composing for The Young Riders
03:02

Pivotal Career Moments

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John Debney on going to work at Disney as a gofer, and on his mentor, Buddy Baker
06:33

Television Industry

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John Debney on advice to an aspiring film and television composer
04:46
Professions

Composer

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John Debney on conducting his music
01:26
John Debney on composing for different genres
01:17
John Debney on what music does for a television show or movie
04:47
John Debney on using an orchestrator, and on visiting sets
02:37
John Debney on rituals he has when composing
01:07
John Debney on the differences between composing for animation, for television, and for features
05:57
John Debney on using choirs in his work
01:05
John Debney on the business aspect of composing for films
02:12
John Debney on advice to an aspiring film and television composer
04:46

Music Professionals

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John Debney on conducting his music
01:25
John Debney on composing for different genres
01:17
John Debney on what music does for a television show or movie
04:47
John Debney on using an orchestrator, and on visiting sets
02:37
John Debney on rituals he has when composing
01:07
John Debney on the differences between composing for animation, for television, and for features
05:57
John Debney on using choirs in his work
01:05
John Debney on the business aspect of composing for films
02:12
John Debney on his style
02:06
John Debney on advice to an aspiring film and television composer
04:46

Musician

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John Debney on his style
02:06
Genres

Adventure/Espionage Series

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John Debney on composing for seaQuest DSV for executive producer Steven Spielberg
07:44

Animation

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John Debney on composing for animation, including The Flintstones and Scooby Doo
06:59

Children's Programming

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John Debney on his first screen credit, for The Wonderful World of Disney
02:44

Drama Series

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John Debney on composing for Fame
05:17
John Debney on composing the theme song for Sisters
02:32
John Debney on composing for Hatfields & McCoys and Texas Rising
11:15
John Debney on composing for Bonnie and Clyde
02:12

Sci-Fi/Supernatural Series

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John Debney on composing for Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: The Next Generation
03:10

Western Series

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John Debney on composing for The Young Riders
06:08
People

Buddy Baker

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John Debney on going to work at Disney as a gofer, and on his mentor, Buddy Baker
06:33

Walt Disney

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John Debney on his father meeting and working for Walt Disney
01:55

Garry Marshall

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John Debney on composing for various Garry Marshall feature films, and on composing for "Cutthroat Island"
06:03
John Debney on composing for various Garry Marshall feature films
00:55

Mike Post

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John Debney on working with composer Mike Post
02:24

Steven Spielberg

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John Debney on composing for seaQuest DSV for executive producer Steven Spielberg
07:44

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