TheWrap Screening Series: Billie Eilish and Finneas Fell in Love With Movie Music Through ‘Social Network’ and ‘American Beauty’ | Video

They joined Best Original Song and Score nominees Diane Warren, Scott George, Laura Karpman and Jerskin Fendrix for a live Q&A

On an illustrious panel that contained recipients of numerous Oscars, Grammys and even Emmys, six of the nominees in the Best Original Score and Best Original Song categories at the upcoming 96th Oscars chatted with Steve Pond, Executive Editor, Awards for TheWrap, about their various experiences on their nominated films as part of TheWrap Screening Series.

They included sibling pop duo Billie Eilish and Finneas O’Connell, previous Original Song winners and authors of the “Barbie” smash “What Was I Made For?”, Honorary Oscar recipient and legendary songwriter Diane Warren for her song “The Fire Inside” from “Flamin’ Hot,” and composers Scott George (nominated for his triumphant conclusion song “Wahzhazhe (A Song for My People)” from “Killers of the Flower Moon), five-time Emmy winner Laura Karpman for her stirring score for “American Fiction,” and newcomer Jerskin Fendrix for his inventive compositions for “Poor Things.” The latter three are enjoying their first-ever Academy Award nominations.

As a 15-time Oscar nominee, Warren kicked off by remembering her love of movie music, particularly the title song from 1966’s “Born Free,” also an Oscar winner. “It just gutted me,” said Warren. “And there was “To Sir With Love” and “A Hard Day’s Night, and I was touched deeply as a viewer and listener. So I took a bunch of film classes, so I could just watch movies. I’d sit in the back working on my songs. And I think that by osmosis, that combination, kind of trained me in a weird way.”

Next up were Eilish and O’Connell, no strangers to the Oscars stage for their Academy-recognized Bond tune “No Time to Die” just three years ago. The former mentioned animated films such as “Over the Hedge” and “Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron” as influences when she was young (remember, she’s only 22), and how she loved Thomas Newman’s “American Beauty” score. “I had the whole soundtrack downloaded before I ever saw it, ” said Eilish, “and I know that like the back of my hand and I think it’s so beautiful.”

O’Connell was very much in love with Howard Shore’s “The Lord of the Rings” scores and the Trent Reznor-Atticus Ross scores for films like “The Social Network” and “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.” “They were super important and evocative to me and as I got a little older and started to like dabble in trying to record and make music, like seeing “The Social Network with that score was very inspiring from a kind of a standpoint of ‘like, ‘oh my God, that’s sort of the world that I like, that’s the music that I’m trying to make.”

George is brand-new to the film scene, and hails from the same Osage area that “Killers” is set in, as a longtime drummer and Native performer with various tribes and local companies. “Normally, using our music in film is sometimes out of context, you know, a score might be written or something, and they’re trying to capture some of the melodies and things like that in the score,” said George. “This is probably the first time I’ve seen it where it’s used to actually try to move the audience from one part of the movie.”

Karpman has won several Emmys for her TV compositions, especially for documentaries, and was best known as a Juilliard-trained jazz musician from her early days. “I really wanted to be a New York intellectual composer,” said Karpman, “And, you know, teach and do that kind of thing. But I got really turned on by this idea of how much music could move drama forward. And then when I wound up at Sundance, I saw that work together for the first time and then I was really committed to trying to see if I can make a life of this which I have.”

Fendrix is a British musician known for electro-pop style music with a Nick Cave-like singing style, and found himself drawn to music in TV shows such as “The Simpsons” and “Futurama,” which do not adhere to emotional rungs, and loves 1990s Disney films for their musical complexity. I really stuff like “Mulan” and “The Lion King” and “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” I think that’s extraordinarily high-level stuff, said Fendrix. “Like in “Mulan,” the balance between these kind of really jokey, New York cabaret kind of songs when it suddenly comes to this kind of really intense Shakuhachi kind of music. I’ve always been really drawn to those sorts of contrasts and how you express emotion musically, rather than just any one uncomplicated direction.”

You can watch the full conversation Q&A with the nominees here.


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