Music Composer David Schwartz Discusses Scoring Lucy and Desi Documentary for Sundance 2022
Reported by: LaKisa Renee
Meet Emmy-nominated composer David Schwartz, who scored director Amy Poehler’s documentary debut LUCY AND DESI. The documentary chronicles the personal & professional lives of the iconic Hollywood pair Lucille Ball and Desi Arnez. It highlights the making of I LOVE LUCY, their groundbreaking innovations in studio productions, the ups and downs, the sisterhood of comedy and more. Schwartz did a wonderful job capturing the feel, mood and essence of their story with his beautiful music compositions. The documentary premiered on January 22nd, 2022 at Sundance Film Festival to positive reviews.
Schwartz attended the School of Visual Arts in New York and the Berklee College of Music in Boston. He mastered a wide range of musical genres by performing with such diverse acts as Manhattan Transfer, John Sebastian, the Boston Civic, the Glenn Miller Band Symphony and John Hall. David began composing music for film and television in 1990. David has a great reputation for being able to deliver his unique brand of quirky, original music, while remaining true to the needs and demands of the projects he scores.
Schwartz is currently scoring season 2 of Peacock’s comedy series Rutherford Falls, starring co-creator Ed Helms (with Michael Schur and Sierra Teller Ornelas). His music can also be heard on Michael Schur’s NBC comedy series The Good Place; Fox/Netflix’s Arrested Development, created by Mitchell Hurwitz, for which he received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Music Composition For A Series; HBO’s Deadwood, for which he received an Emmy nomination for his main title theme; CBS’s Wolf Lake, produced by Alex Ganza, which resulted in an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Main Title Theme Music; and Northern Exposure, co-created by Joshua Brand and John Falsey, for which he earned a Grammy nomination for his main theme and more.
I had a chance to interview David and ask him a few question about the documentary and his career.
1. How did you feel when you were asked to compose music for the Lucy and Desi documentary?
David: Elated! Like most of the world I am a huge fan of I Love Lucy. Desi is a hero. The chance to work with Amy Poehler. I had “acted” in her last two movies. OK so I played the part of a bass player, but it was still a blast and I had the pleasure of seeing Amy work as a director.
Also I was hired by Morgan Sackett who is a producer on The Good Place and VEEP. I would do anything that Morgan is a part of, and that’s turned out to be a great thing.
2. How long did it take to compose the score and can you give some insight into the composition process?
David: I like to get started as early as possible. Even before picture was available I started to write some themes/suites that I hoped would relate. Once we had picture I think it was a little less then two months from actually getting together with Amy in our spotting session to actually recording on the stage with the musicians.
3. Have you had any previously scored films premiere at the Sundance Film Festival or is this your first one?
David: Yes I was fortunate enough to compose the music for Alex Gibney’s Gonzo: The Life and Work Dr. Hunter S. Thompson.
4. Did you feel any pressure to create the perfect score for a film documenting a historical tv show and love shared between two Hollywood legends?
David: Whatever project I am composing, I am always trying for the best possible score. If not, why take it on? Lucy and Desi definitely inspired all of us who worked on the film. Amy’s enthusiasm for the project and its eponymous characters was contagious.
5. Were you a fan of the tv show "I Love Lucy?"
David: Absolutely! I would re-watch them at different times of my life and they always held up.
6. When did you start composing music and who or what were your influences?
David: I started about 30 years ago, I did a very small film for my friends DJ and Julie Webster “Skeeter’s Wings” that never say the light of day. Nonetheless it changed my life making me want to become a composer. I grew up playing every kind of music imaginable. Without trying to sound pretentious my influences are The Beatles, Motown, Beethoven, and Stravinsky. After I had been composing for years I started to discover the great film composers, among them, John Williams, James Horner, and Thomas Newman.
7. What would you consider the most challenging aspect of composing music?
David: The challenge and joy of composing music is story. I am trying to tell or enhance the story using music. Often a scene can be done in an infinite number of ways and its always fun to try different ways and see what moves the story along best.
8. What other tv shows or movies have you scored?
David: Arrested Development, The Good Place, Northern Exposure, VEEP, Almost Family, Lady Dynamite, and too many more to list here.
9. Are you currently composing music for any tv shows or movies?
David: I am currently working on the Peacock series Rutherford Falls. I co-compose with the indigenous hip-hop band The Halluci Nation who are fantastic collaborators. The show focuses on two best friends Nathan Rutherford (Ed Helms) and Reagan Wells (Jana Schmieding) a member of the fictional Minishonka Nation.
10. What is your favorite score that you have composed?
David: Lucy & Desi and my next one!
For more on David Schwartz visit:
Website : davidschwartzmusic.com
LUCY AND DESI DOCUMENTARY | SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL PREMIERE
Official Synopsis: One day in 1940, two budding stars met for the first time in the RKO Pictures commissary, unaware that together they would change the face of pop culture. After surviving a tumultuous upbringing, a teenage Lucille Ball left her family for New York City, where she first found success as a model before moving to Hollywood to begin working in movies. Hailing from Santiago de Cuba, Desi Arnaz was a paid musician by 16 and quickly broke out as a multitalented entertainer. The two would go on to consistently challenge the status quo in entertainment both in front of and behind the camera.
Lucy And Desi begins streaming on Amazon in March. It was directed by Amy Poehler and written by Mark Monroe. Producers are Poehler, Monroe, Michael Rosenberg, Justin Wilkes, Jeanne Elfant Festa, and Nigel Sinclair. Imagine Documentaries and White Horse Pictures are among the production entities of the Amazon Studios Presentation.
For more, visit www.Sundance.org