Gary M. Thomas

He is the Composer in Paul Inman‘s That Feeling Dollar Baby film.

SKSM: Could you start with telling me a little bit about yourself? Who are you and what do you do?

Gary M Thomas: I’m a film composer living and working in coastal South Carolina (USA). I’ve been involved in scoring films for a number of years, working with independent filmmakers on numerous film projects and online television series.

SKSM: How did you become involved with That Feeling?

Gary M Thomas: I’ve worked with writer/director Paul Inman on many of his past films and was delighted when he approached me about writing the music for “That Feeling.” In addition to scoring the film, I was fortunate to be able to help with the preproduction and assisted on the set during filming as well.

SKSM: How did you get started as a composer and what do you do on production?

Gary M Thomas: Well, I’ve had a very strong interest in music since my childhood. I first became involved in electronic music synthesizers and keyboards in my teenage years, eventually pursuing work with local bands. For many years, I settled into performing in the local music scene while studying composition and improvisation with local music professionals. For about a year, I left my roots and traveled with a touring variety band, an amazing experience which I will treasure forever. My interest in film music actually started in the mid 1990s when I first began working with MIDI sequencers, samplers and digital orchestration. Since that time, I’ve been writing, arranging and recording film music cues, working with independent filmmakers on their projects and online TV series. My main focus and goal is to create original and innovative music which will effectively support and enhance the filmmaker’s vision.

SKSM: How did you get started to write the Soundtrack for That Feeling?

Gary M Thomas: Before the production ever started, I received a copy of the script from Paul and read through it. I began getting a few early musical ideas and tried to envision how these cues would fit behind the images. This process is the best way to get initial ideas which could develop into complete musical passages within the completed score. After the filming was finished and the first edit was complete, Paul and I watched the film together and discussed where the music should be placed and how it would best fit into each scene. Being a musician himself, Paul had some great ideas regarding the instrumentation and timbres used in specific scenes. I then received a copy which allowed me to begin the composing and recording process.  Throughout any small edits which followed, only slight adjustments and tweaks were made to the music to align with the changes and sync with the picture.

SKSM: Is this your most challenging audio so far?

Gary M Thomas: I’d say it’s certainly one of the most involved scores so far. Composing with virtual orchestral instruments and arranging them for placement within the musical canvas can be a bit daunting. Often times, achieving a natural sounding blend between sound design, ambient effects and actual instruments can take a lot of patience and determination. So, in a way, I guess “challenging” would be an appropriate word to describe it. So often I’d find myself recording and rerecording the same musical passage over and over again trying to get that exact desired sound. With the magic of multitrack computer recording, it’s not a big issue to erase and rerecord a section time and time again. However, I think I probably drove my wife crazy playing the same sections over and over and over… LOL!

SKSM: Was there any funny or special moment when you made the music that you would like to tell me about?

Gary M Thomas: There weren’t many funny moments, other than driving my wife crazy with the constant repetitions. There were a few special moments when I felt the music and picture seemed to fit extremely well together, complimenting each other perfectly. For example, in many of the emotional scenes, I felt the orchestral strings helped add to the already intense sentiment of the moment. Additionally, along with the sound design ambience, the strings were used in many of the deja vu sequences to create background textures and add to the mood. One other moment worth mentioning is during the climactic ending scene where I felt the brashness of the instruments combined with the aleatoric string patterns helped created a real sense of fear and distress.

SKSM: After That Feeling did you write more music? If so what?

Gary M Thomas: I don’t currently have any new projects since completing the music for “That Feeling” but yes, I’m always writing new music. That’s just a normal part of my day, sitting down at the keyboard and composing new ideas.

SKSM: What are you working on nowadays?

Gary M Thomas: So lately, I’ve been spending most of my time working with my collection of piano libraries and slightly less of the orchestral samples. I guess it’s kinda like a cool down time for me after completing this project. Sometimes, I find it very therapeutic to sit down and write some melodies for solo piano without layering orchestral tracks behind them. In fact, I’ve just recently completed sketching out a few new compositions using only piano. These ideas could be further developed and possibly used on future projects as needed.

SKSM: Are you a fan of Stephen King’s work?

Gary M Thomas: Yes, indeed!  I’d say “The Shining” is probably my favourite.

SKSM: What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?

Gary M Thomas: Hmmm, possibly that I’ve been vegetarian for almost three quarters of my life. Yep, I started in high school and have continued for over 46 years. Wow, that makes me sound so old, doesn’t it? LOL!

SKSM: What advice would you give to those people who want to be musicians?

Gary M Thomas: First and foremost, be seriously dedicated to your talent and apply yourself to improving your skills every day. Expose yourself to all types of music and learn as much as possible from each genre. Aim to be creative, innovative and unique with your talent. Whenever possible, network with and spend time performing with other likeminded musicians to gain knowledge of different performing styles. If you are planning to pursue scoring to picture, I highly recommend studying, listening and learning from the works of master film composers as a guide to your own musical advancement. Remember to always be diligent and don’t ever give up on your talent.

SKSM: Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. Is there anything else you want to say to the fans that read this interview?

Gary M Thomas: Thank you so much for giving me this unique opportunity to share a little information with the readers. I’m hoping that everyone will get the opportunity to see “That Feeling” and will enjoy the film as much as I enjoyed composing the music.

SKSM: Do you like something to add?

Gary M Thomas: Again, thank you very much.

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