GROOVE RAFFLE FOR BERKLEE STUDENTS: Win a Phone Meeting with Film Composer John Swihart (How I Met Your Mother, Napoleon Dynamite, Losing Control)

By: Lisa Occhino
Photos Courtesy of PhD Productions

The man behind the music for hit TV shows and films such as Napoleon Dynamite, “How I Met Your Mother,” and brand new movie Losing Control, is none other than Berklee alum John Swihart.

The Groove has partnered with PhD Productions to give one lucky Berklee student the amazing opportunity to win a phone meeting with him!

Entering the raffle is as easy as watching a movie! Here are the two options:

  1. Attend one of the screenings of Losing Control in Boston between April 6 and April 8 when Valerie Weiss (writer/director/producer of the film) is doing a Q&A. Bring a card with your contact info to give to her after the screening for the drawing.
  2. Attend a different screening of Losing Control (no Q&A) in Boston, and mail your ticket stub with your contact info postmarked by April 15th to:
    LC Pictures, LLC
    1041 N. Formosa Ave.
    Formosa Bldg., Room 210
    Los Angeles, CA 90046

One lucky winner from the combined pool of Berklee student ticket stubs will be chosen to win the phone meeting with John Swihart!

Schedule of screenings:
One Kendall Square (at 355 Binney Street) Cambridge, MA 02139 (617) 499-1995
Showing April 6-12: 11:05am (Sat/Sun), 1:25pm, 4:30pm, 7:00pm & 9:40PM
Writer/Director Valerie Weiss will host a Q&A following most screenings. Buy tickets online.

About Losing Control:
LOSING CONTROL is a fresh and funny independent film that explores the universal idea that, at some point, everyone fears that there is a “right” way to find love, and that they might be going about it the wrong way. LOSING CONTROL is a smart and original romantic comedy about a female scientist who wants empirical proof that her boyfriend is “the one.” Evoking a lighthearted and clever tone, LOSING CONTROL is the story of a charmingly neurotic Harvard graduate student whose life doesn’t seem to be working out the way she planned. Frustrated by life’s unpredictability and determined to apply scientific principles to her love life, she sets off on a series of wild dating adventures – a journey that ultimately leads to her understanding that nothing can be controlled and that life is indeed more about the ride than the destination.

And here’s OUR interview with John Swihart so you can get some ideas of what to ask him if you win!

Berklee Groove: What inspired you to pursue a career in film scoring?
John Swihart: Too many nights spent on a hard wood floor to play a gig in Virginia or somewhere for too little money. I painted houses for over 10 years in Boston and through the wisdom of those (over) 10 years of meditation with a paint brush in my hand, I came to conclusion that I could probably make more money with my ears than with my back. I put a studio together to do commercials and ended up doing some short films for Emerson students, and it became obvious this was the most fun thing to do. It was so satisfying creatively, and you feel like a valid participant in the end creation due to the power of music in film. I started down the path of becoming a composer for monetary reasons, but it has turned into the most musically fulfilling experience I could have ever imagined.

BG: What was something you got out of Berklee – whether it was in a class, a connection you made, or anything else – that you feel played a significant role in your film scoring career?
JS: The best thing I got out of Berklee was the music education stuff, everything from ear training to arranging. There’s nothing more powerful that having a toolbox to help you put the notes in the right place. I still have a reharm book at the studio hanging around. Connections are always great from any college and Berklee is no exception. I cannot say that my connections guaranteed me a job somewhere since I was somewhat of a late bloomer, but I was able to meet up with other people who were working out here in LA on my arrival, and when you get here you will have time to meet up with people. You will find that most people who are working are relatively happy and willing to meet for a half hour and chat or offer some advice.

BG: Which film or TV show did you have the most fun scoring? The most difficult?
JS: They are all different and I would go crazy if they were all the same. So this is somewhat impossible to answer. I can say that when there is lack of leadership or vision on a film or TV show, things will go to a committee – and I always liked the phrase, “A camel is a horse designed by a committee.” Things tend to get determined by fear so everything gets watered down at that point. Not fun. Otherwise always fun. All my favorite.

BG: What was your favorite part of scoring Losing Control?
JS: Valerie [Weiss] and I had a blast working on Losing Control. It was especially fun because of all the acoustic instruments I was able to incorporate into the score that kept it interesting to the ear, and genuinely fun from a musical and harmonic standpoint as well. I also had just finished my new studio and this was the first project I was able to record there, so I was able to surpass the production quality of a lot of previous projects. I think the Straub cue when they’re all cooking in the kitchen was my favorite cue. I do feel very lucky. I played most all of the instruments which still brings me much joy as it always has.

BG: Are you working on any other films or TV shows at the moment? If so, what?
JS: I am working on my first major action/scary/thriller based on the book series Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz. The director is Stephen Sommers who made all the Mummy movies and the last G.I. Joe film. He always works with Allen Silvestri, so it was quite intimidating going into the gig. I was able to demo my way into this one. 85 minutes of very dense score. 500 visual effects in the movie. A very interesting process. Lots of hard work, but very satisfying. I also just finished a small Sundance film that got picked up by Focus Features titled For a Good Time Call. I am still doing “How I Met Your Mother” for FOX broadcast on CBS, “Switched At Birth” for ABC Family, and I am starting another half hour in about three weeks titled “Men at Work” for TBS. Just finished a pilot for FOX animation titled “Birchum” from Adam Carolla. And it’s pilot season so I probably wont be sleeping until May… But like I said, it beat workin’.