Sonic Cinema

Sounds, Visions and Insights by Brian Skutle

The Site:
What is Sonic Cinema?

Simply put, Sonic Cinema is the fusion of my two passions- music and movies. For me, the two have been inseperable ever since high school. When I began to write music in college, my compositions retained- and continue to retain- the emotional and “aural-visual” aesthetic of film music, and many times, a particular vision- or a particular piece of film music- was in my mind during the composing process. And when I began to write reviews on movies, I’d always make a point of singling out the film’s composer and his contribution- good or bad- to the film. That, also, has continued to this day.

Sonic Cinema is intended as an outlet for me, a place to share my music and thoughts and feelings on movies with anyone curious to find out. This is not intended to be a site devoted to all-things related to modern- and classic- cinema; there are other places on the web for that, and I’ll be happy to point you in their direction. Sonic Cinema is a labor-of-love, and a personal expression- with a little help from my friends every now and then- on the two art forms that have had the most profound impact on my life.

I can’t promise you’ll like my music, and I can’t promise you’ll like my opinions on any of the films- or aspects surrounding film- I choose to discuss. What I can promise is enlightenment on simply one man’s opinion on the most significant form of expression of the new century (film), and one man’s experimentation within the most significant form of expression in centuries past (music). Thanks for listening, and I hope you enjoy!

-Brian Skutle

About Brian Skutle:

Brian Skutle’s passion is for storytelling, be it through music, film, or creative writing, with the story dictating the medium that best brings it to life. In his music though, it may not be a specific story that inspires him but a feeling. A sense of longing. Of mystery. Of tension. Of serenity. Of sensuality. Of something beyond the humdrum normalcy of life, though sometimes his goal is to just compose for the fun of creating. Inspired by storytellers of all forms, select examples of Brian’s personal expressions, and several of his film reviews and commentaries, are found at www.sonic-cinema.com.

Brian (born 1977) started out as a trombonist in 1989, but it wasn’t until his junior and senior years of high school at Lassiter, in their award-winning band program, that he found his niche as a musical individual. It was in those years when he heard James Horner’s score for “Braveheart,” which inspired him to want to compose for film, and Hans Zimmer’s score for “Broken Arrow,” which opened his mind to the possibilities of electronic music. After graduating from Lassiter, Brian embarked on a five-year journey at Georgia State University, where he majored in Sound Recording Technology, one of GSU’s two Music Industry degree programs. From Fall 1996 to May 2001, when he graduated with a Bachelor’s of Music degree, he studied recording, MIDI applications, and Csound synthesis under Dr. Robert Scott Thompson, and composition and orchestration under Dr. Nick Demos, composing about 20 pieces employing both electronic and acoustic instruments. While he wouldn’t compose his first film score until 2005 (written for a series of hand-made short films by a friend of his), this valuable experience at GSU served him well in creating an aesthetic quality to his music that is capable of standing apart from visual media, but also retaining the same sense of mood and emotion he finds in the best film music he listens to. In 1999, Listen.com said of Brian’s music, “At times these compositions can get downright spooky, first lulling you and then raising the hairs on your neck with eerie, minimalist rhythms and synthesized reverberations.” Since 1999, Brian’s music has been available online at sites such as MP3.com, MySpace, Reverbnation, and others, as well as on CDs he’s released via CDBaby, iTunes, and Bandcamp. In 2004, Brian launched www.sonic-cinema.com, his personal website that not only showcases Brian’s musical endeavors, but also movie reviews, essays, and fan commentaries he’s done over the years. Brian started making his own films in 2006, and music and the philosophies he brings to his musical work became an important part of the filmmaking process for him. Music, and film music, has always been Brian’s first love, though, and in 2014, Brian returned to school, and began studying at the online arm of the Berklee College of Music towards earning a Specialty Certificate in Music for Film & TV.

If I had to decide when my movie buff “mentality” began, it would probably be between 1992-1993. This is the time I first remember the itch to watch movies multiple times starting (either in theatres or on video), and beginning to pay attention to the end-of-the-year and Oscar hoopla. Over the next few years it would graduate to full-blown fanaticism as I would find myself going to more independent films in theatres, and looking in the “classics” section in video stores. In 1996, I started to notice the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s “You Be the Critic” section (with readers submitting their thoughts on recent movies), and when I began working on the computer more often later that year, I began writing my own contributions and sending them in (email would later make this easier). In January of 1997, my first contribution would be published; from that time to the features’ discontinuation in September of 2000, I would have over 60 published. In the summer of 1999, I began to send these to friends and family; this series of emails continues to this day, and has expanded substantially over the years. Early on in 2003, I began to record audio commentaries for a variety of movies with friends after being inspired by a Roger Ebert article in Yahoo Internet Life, and discovering a site that acts as a search engine for those interested in listening to other peoples’ commentaries.

So you can start to see where I’m coming from, here are some lists of faves…and not so fave.

-Brian Skutle

Brian’s Faves & Picks:

Five Favorite Movies

  1. “Sherlock Jr.” (1924)
  2. “The Crow” (1994)
  3. “Hugo” (2011)
  4. “Braveheart” (1995)
  5. “Pulp Fiction” (1994)

Five Best Movies

  1. “Vertigo” (1958)
  2. “2001: A Space Odyssey” (1968)
  3. “Schindler’s List” (1993)
  4. “Pulp Fiction” (1994)
  5. “Andrei Rublev” (1966)

Five Worst Movies

  1. “An Alan Smithee Film Burn Hollywood Burn” (1998)
  2. “Glen or Glenda?” (1953)
  3. “Troll 2” (1990)
  4. “The Room” (2003)
  5. “Turbulence” (1997)

Five Favorite Actors/Actresses

  1. Amber Benson (TV’s “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”)
  2. John Cusack (“High Fidelity”)
  3. Kate Winslet (“Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”)
  4. Mel Gibson (“Lethal Weapon”)
  5. Joseph Gordon-Levitt (“(500) Days of Summer”)

Five Favorite Movie Characters

  1. Projectionist (Buster Keaton), “Sherlock Jr.”
  2. Celine (Julie Delpy), “Before Sunrise” & “Before Sunset”
  3. Hugo Cabret (Asa Butterfield), “Hugo”
  4. Father Brian Finn (Edward Norton), “Keeping the Faith”
  5. Charlie & Donald Kaufman (Nicolas Cage), “Adaptation.”

Five Favorite Filmmakers

  1. Steven Spielberg (“E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial”)
  2. Joss Whedon (TV’s “Firefly”)
  3. Andrei Tarkovsky (“Stalker”)
  4. Martin Scorsese (“GoodFellas”)
  5. Stanley Kubrick (“The Shining”)

Five Favorite Film Soundtracks

  1. “The Crow”
  2. “2001: A Space Odyssey”
  3. “Vertigo”
  4. “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly”
  5. “Broken Arrow”

Five Favorite Film Composers

  1. Ennio Morricone (“Lolita”)
  2. Hans Zimmer (“The Lion King”)
  3. John Williams (The “Star Wars” Saga)
  4. Danny Elfman (“Big Fish”)
  5. Howard Shore (“The Lord of the Rings”)