Dave Porter (SLC class of ’94) is no small name in “the business.” He has composed musical scores for a range of great projects, from an indie Parker Posey/Paul Rudd flick to the horror fest Smiley and, most recently, the hit AMC show Breaking Bad. Based on the sheer amount of diehard BB fans on this campus (myself included), I have no doubt that Porter’s upcoming visit to SLC this afternoon will be heavily attended. In anticipation, I asked Dave a few questions from some of you that he very politely agreed to answer:
AQ: Did you have a favorite music class or conference experience during your time on campus?
Well, there wasn’t a single semester over my 4 years at SLC that I didn’t study with my don, John Yannelli
of the music faculty. Music production, recording, and composition was always my passion and what attracted me to the college was the ability to study it intensively but not exclusively… unlike, for example, if I had gone to study at a conservatory. And there is no question that all the other classes that I took, from Ancient Japanese Literature to Market Socialism were all equally valuable experiences.
AQ: Which dorms did you live in on campus?
DP: I spent my freshman year in the “new dorms” (Garrison, actually old and dumpy at the time), my second on the ground floor of Dudley Lawrence, the first half of my third in MacCracken (second semester I studied abroad in Japan), and my senior year in Perkins House.
AQ: There seems to be a lot of pressure surrounding the final season of Breaking Bad. Has scoring the last few episodes been a particular challenge?
DP: Yes, although most of the pressure came from within… both as a friendly challenge from people that I was working closely with and from myself. As the series became more popular, and the possibility of it becoming a larger social phenomena became more apparent, we felt a collective desire to end it without any stones left unturned… and to the absolute best of our creative abilities. And for me personally (and selfishly), having been given an opportunity to work on such a special creative endeavour with so many talented people, the last thing I’d want anyone to say down the road is: “Wow, that is one of the greatest shows of all time… if only the music had been better!”
AQ: Any tips for an SLC student interested in pursuing a career in film and television scoring after graduation? Do’s? Don’ts? New York vs. L.A.?
DP: Like many jobs in the creative arts, there is no obvious path to follow. Everyone has to find their own way, and the path I took wouldn’t work for someone starting today. But I think ultimately the most important thing is to learn how to collaborate with other artists… filmmakers, dancers, theater, all of it… because learning to express yourself within someone else’s artistic vision is a unique skill that requires a lot of experience to do well. Other than that, study lots of music theory and classical music so that you can forget it and break all of those rules later. And as for NYC versus LA, if you are interested in working on top level dramatic TV and film, the vast majority of that is in LA, and you will ultimately have to be there. I started in NYC, though, and learned a lot in my 20s working there … but always knew that one day a move west was inevitable.
Come to the Heimbold Donnelly Film Theatre TODAY at 2pm to see Dave Porter talk more about his experience as a professional composer and his time at SLC!
Photo by Hortense Lingjaerde