You can’t celebrate Women in Horror Month without recognizing one of the most talented film composers and musicians in the business, Miriam Mayer. Learn about how she got involved in this business, some of the big films she’s worked on such as The Lost World: Jurassic Park, Star Wars Episode I, and Catch Me If You Can, upcoming projects, and more!
PopHorror – Hi, Miriam. How are you?
Miriam Mayer – Hi Tori! I’m so excited to be interviewed by you!
PopHorror – I’m so excited to interview you! How long have you been involved in this business?
Miriam Mayer – I’ve been a musician my whole life, studying piano since age 5. I played violin on my first film score in high school.
PopHorror – At what age did you know you wanted to become a composer?
Miriam Mayer – I went to an enormous high school and I had a lot of social anxiety. Every day was scary. I played violin and saxophone in my high school band and I composed music for the band’s Christmas concert. And at the performance, it was like—wow—people applauded—and I have a voice and it’s fun and people know who I am—and my inner composer woke up!
PopHorror – That’s so amazing! What are some of the big films you’ve worked on and what were those experiences like?
Miriam Mayer – I assisted John Williams for many years, so yeah. “Star Wars: Episode I, Catch Me If You Can, Jurassic Park The Lost World, Saving Private Ryan, Minority Report. And as a violinist, Star Trek, Mission Impossible III, The Incredibles. It’s fantastically cool to work on those big studio films—working at the highest level of filmscore-dom—to work with people I fan-girled over—hugely fun!
PopHorror – You’re truly incredible! What’s your favorite film that you’ve worked on?
Miriam Mayer – Oh wow. Each experience has its good and bad parts, y’know? I look for good relationships, good films, and a chance to write good music.
PopHorror – Hell yeah! What do you love about composing?
Miriam Mayer – For film composing, I LOVE to be scoring a horror film and scare myself—or score a comedy and make myself laugh! It’s so amazingly cool to be working on scoring a scene and see it pop to life with my music! I love to be creative, I love working with directors, and I love to help bring their vision, their story, to life!
PopHorror – Do you think sound can make or break a film?
Miriam Mayer – If the sound is noticeably bad, it can pull the audience out of the experience. When the sound is good, there’s this seamless blend with the story that really enhances the experience. But generally, I think it’s the story-telling that makes or breaks a film.
PopHorror – I agree. Do you prefer working in movies or television series or does it matter?
Miriam Mayer – I really love both. Sometimes it’s great to be able to tell a story over a long arc like a series. And sometimes it’s so freaking cool to have a huge statement that can only be told in a film.
PopHorror – Who are the women that inspire you?
Miriam Mayer – Recently I scored a feature documentary called, KNOTS. It’s about child- and coerced-marriage in the United States and it’s searing and shocking. Kate Ryan and Jasmine Lord are the filmmakers and they inspire me. The women who survived those forced marriages and went on to become advocates inspire me. One of them, Fraidy Reiss, is featured in Hillary and Chelsea Clinton’s “The Book Of Gutsy Women.”
And women filmmakers inspire me. It’s so hard to make a film—any film. And women swim upstream against expectations. I love to hear women’s stories, from women’s points of view. And I love working with women filmmakers! So shoutouts to Simone Kisiel, director of the multi-award-winning horror feature BUGS: A Trilogy! And Christine Parker, director of the multi-award-winning BLOOD OF THE MUMMY! By telling their stories, women filmmakers make the world a better place,
PopHorror – Simone and Christine are my girls. I love them and their work! Any current and/or upcoming projects you’d like to talk about?
Miriam Mayer – I just scored a great feature documentary, LJ Fogel’s GOD ON THE STREET about spirituality. And I’m currently scoring Marie Laurin’s and Clara Gabrielle’s horror feature, THE UNCANNY, which I think is going to make a big splash!
I also scored several shorts and series this year including some excellent comedies (I love comedies)—MAKE AMERICA BAKE AGAIN by Molly Camp, CHALK by Eric Whitten, DAYBREAK by Eric Whitten and Wendell Laurent, ROCK A BYE BABY by Monique Sorgen, TZADEIKIS by Emily Cheeger and Ashley George. I had the pleasure of scoring an inspiring environmental doc, CONNECTED OFF THE GRID, by Rachel Bujalski. And currently, at film festivals, Simone Kisiel’s horror shorts, THE BET and GOOD INTENTIONS are nominated for several awards, and Kathleen Randazzo’s comedy THE BLUE-EYED BEAUTY is up for Best Short and Best Music at the Idyllwild Film Fest.