Out Take With John Paesano


Website: johnpaesano.com

Most recent: Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes

Before John Paesano became an Emmy-nominated, BAFTA-winning composer, he was a kid of the '80s who bought soundtracks in order to relive films he loved while waiting for the VHS release. He learned to play piano and studied classical music with Professor Sally Dow Miller of Conservatoire de Paris, and today has credits in films including Marvel’s Daredevil, The Maze Runner trilogy and, most recently, Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes. For the latter, Paesano’s experience writing music for video games like Playstation’s Spider-Man and Miles Morales helped him. 

 “The video game scoring process is becoming so much more relevant in film, especially one with lots of visual effects. In both cases, you’re not working with finished picture,” Paesano says. “When I came up in the business, people were so excited when it became possible to work with digital picture, but it changed the way scores were written.

When you work with picture, it’s very confining, because you’re so conscious of visuals and dialogue. Previously, you had to write based on conversations with the director, what the art looked like, character themes. The same is true for working with a film with lots of visual effects, because it’s not finished yet. So in a way, I had to adopt an older style of scoring.” 

With his composition, Paesano respected the previous films in the Apes franchise and created a fresh score that was “steeped in the musical language that came before,” he says. Paesano’s extensive career, which has included working with Jerry Goldsmith, who scored previous Planet of the Apes films, and John Williams, taught him that talent in the film scoring world is just a fragment of what’s necessary for success. “When you get to a certain level, everyone is really talented and writing professional-sounding, well-produced music.