Interview with Marc Fantini

Marc Fantini is known best for his score work with Steffan Fantini and Scott Gordan on TV’s “Criminal Minds” and now its spin off “Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior”, starring Forest Whitaker.  Marc and his partners have also worked on the TV series “Army Wives” and recently completed working on the film “The Lost Medallion”.  Movie Mikes had a chance to chat with Marc about working with his two partners and scoring the “Criminal Minds” Franchise .

Mike Gencarelli: How is it working together with Steffan Fantini, and Scott Gordan on your scores? How do you separate the tasks?
Marc Fantini: What we found out is that three is the magic number for us. If you are working alone…that is one way to work.  If you are working with two people and you have a disagreement…you really don’t have a tiebreaker.  But with three people, it is the trifecta.  One person is the tiebreaker, so that kind of helps a lot.  We haven’t done much apart because the technique seems to work for us a lot.  We have a really strong competitive force that we have between the three of us which pushes the envelope further and further. We are also trying one-up each other and impress each other in a very positive way.  Not to mention that the guys are really cool people to hang out with, but working with three people has been a blessing.

MG: Having worked on “Criminal Minds” for six years, what do you do to keep the music different over each season?
MF: We treat each episode like a new movie each week.  There are certain commonalities with each episode for “Criminal Minds”, each one has the board room for instance.  But each story is different in its own way.  We huddle up at the beginning of the scoring session and try and figure out what is different about each episode.  We talk about the differences and try and do something different that relates to this episode.  In the recent episode for example, where the guy was trying to decipher the perfect smell, we would try and figure out what could evoke musically the thought of smell and air.  We would also try and figure out what sound would make you think about that or makes you feel that way.  Once we do that, we share them and they become current thoughout the episode. Since you would never score any two movies the same way, it is the same for us with each episode.

MG: With the new show “Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior”, how do you feel it differs from its  predecessor?
MF: It is a different style of working for the show, since on the show they are more of a rouge team.  They do things outside of the box and push as far as they can.  They do not work in suits in an office, they work in a gym and very dirty underground places.  The music is set to reflect all those situations.  It is more street and gritty and is also like a touch more aggressive in a sense.  I would say it is a little different than “Criminal Minds” but not 180 degree difference, since they are brother and sister shows.  Nobody is interested in watching two hours of the same show though.  We wanted to strive to make it have a different feel through the music without straying too far from what made the original show so great.

MG: How do you compare workintg on “Criminal Minds” to “Army Wives”?
MF: That is a great question, in that case…it is 180 degree difference.  With “Army Wives”, it is a very organic score.  I am guitar player, so I get a chance to play with all my guitars every week and test out new sounds.  Nothing done for the score is synthethic.  Everything is creating organically whether it is through pedal boards or strange microphone techniques.  We tried to create unique but organic sounds. When you get on an Army base you get real people and real people is an organic thing, it is not fake in any way.  I have always been a fan of The Allman Brothers and bands like that and how they have that organic sound and kind of feel. We wanted to incorporate that into the score.  It is almost like jamming.  We get together…I will play my acoustic…Steffan will be on a B3…Scott will play the drums or bass and we watch the scene.  We sort of just keep jamming to the scene until we find something that works.  That is pretty much how that score is written.  There are definitely spots in that score that are orchestral, since it is an emotional kind of show. We use it in conjuction though with the organic process.  It is a really fun show to write for.

MG: Is there a difference from working on film than working on television?
MF: Sure, there is a pretty big difference. Television is a great medium and I love writing for it.  Working under the boundary of a single hour, you have to try and get the most bang for your buck. It is almost like you are putting more into the music for television.  Whereas you can get away with being a little more sparce and tasteful when you are doing movies. In the movie, you have a chance to play over scenes and not have to narrate everyone sound that takes place.

MG: Do you have other projects upcoming?
MF: We are doing a pliot for Ed Bernero called “Partners”.  It is really excited and unbelievably well written show for ABC.  It is about two female cops who unbenounced to anyone are sisters.  The writting is so good and very intelligence.  It crosses the boundary like the film “Lethal Weapon”, there is humor but always seriousness. The way that they interplay the show with humor, you do not see that much.  We also did a movie with some great people, the director was Bill Muir and produced by Bobby Downes and Kevin Downes.  It was called “The Lost Medallion” and is a children action adventure film. It was really fun.  We also have another pilot we may do but not locked in 100% yet.

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