It always helps to know someone when you’re breaking into showbiz, and a familial connection to Pink Floyd led British-born Edward Shearmur to work with the late two-time Oscar nominated composer Michael Kamen, known for such scores as Brazil and Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.
Handling a variety of tasks for more than a decade for Kamen, one of the takeaways for Shearmur was his mentor’s ability to improvise music literally on the stand before a live orchestra, giving prompt directions to each section of brass, percussion, woodwind, etc and weaving them all together.
It’s a talent that Shearmur literally used while he was writing the score to the Showtime Ben Stiller-directed limited series Escape at Dannemora. After getting a note from Stiller while he was on a plane, Shearmur literally wrote a piece of music while he had an orchestra at his disposal in a Nashville, Tenn. recording studio.
Created by Brett Johnson and Michael Tolkin, Dannemora tells the true story of inmates Richard Matt and David Sweat and their jail break from the maximum security Clinton Correctional facility in upstate New York. A prison worker, Tilly Mitchell, who was romantically obsessed with them, assisted with their flight.
One of Stiller’s inspirations for the score was the 1979 Andrei Tarkovsky-directed film Stalker which blended its score with sound effects for a tonal, textural feel.
“That’s where we started,” says Shearmur on today’s Crew Call, “the music shouldn’t be pressing buttons or (making) emotional statements, but be adjunct to the world created.”
Shearmur’s score for Dannemora is nominated for best music composition for a limited series at the Primetime Emmys with Episode 5 being his submission. That’s when Matt and Sweat succeed in busting out. Shearmur won a Primetime Emmy for the original title music to Starz’s Masters of Horror in 2006. Dannemora is up for 11 Emmys including outstanding limited series.