Imagine a movie with no music. No eerie piano and toning gong. No suspenseful drum kits and horns. No echoing synthesizer making you look over your shoulder for an approaching alien. It wouldn’t be the same, would it?
Composer Mike Hall is very much aware of the the mood music can create. He has made it his life’s work to design, produce, engineer, and master the parts of films that you and I take for granted. Growing up in the small town of Tipton, Iowa and later moving to LeClaire, home of the History Channel’s show American Picker, his earliest influences came from the rock records his parents would play. Even though this was Buffalo Bill Cody’s birthplace, his parents didn’t stick to listening to Bluegrass and Country. Instead, his house on twenty acres was filled with the eclectic sounds of Buddy Holly, Ricky Nelson, Elvis Presley, and The Beatles.
Music filled his mind as he explored the towering bluffs, raced along the Mississippi River walks, and climbed ever higher in the deciduous forests. From his perch high in the silver maple or cottonwood tree he often watched deer graze, raccoons and squirrels scurry in and out of gooseberry and wild grape bushes, or wild turkeys peck for grubs on the leaf-carpeted forest floor.
Sometimes, he’d be lucky enough to catch a bald eagle flying overhead. While the beating of its wings echoed rhythms in his ears, he would tap on his faded jeans and dream of song.
As he grew, music became ever-more important as he trekked to the local record store searching for albums and tapes that might inspire. That’s when he began to notice film scores and listen with a more discerning ear. Then in high school he joined his first rock band with some friends. He may have known, “just enough to get by,” but his lack of of experience didn’t stop Mike.
Self-taught, he continued practicing, honing his craft until he was thrilled to begin performing as a guitar player and singer in the old school death metal band, rock band Angelkill. For the next few years Mike toured and played in a variety of bands of the same genre such as Mortuary Oat and Helmsplitter, which the Spirit of Rock Ezine called “..extreme metal that takes you on a roller coaster..” Spirit of Metal Article
During this time Mike was contacted by a German filmmaker who asked to use one of his songs in the end credits of his film. As he sat watching a film with his music playing, it got him to thinking; What inspires me the most? He considered this for a while, but the answer soon became clear. Composing. Creating musical scores for film.
For example: “Post Apocolyptic” by Mike Hall
Now Mike can often be found in his home studio working the keys and dials as he composes. While he has done several jobs for hire, Mike says, “The work that has the most meaning and thrill for me is the music I do that has no project tied to it…there are no pressures…no expectations…just me and the the music.”
Eventually most of these compositions find their way to a record, video game, or film but even if they don’t, it’s fine with Mike. He loves that time of no pressure. That moment he is creating for the sheer joy of making music.
That passion and joy have paid off as Hall’s movie credit’s continue to grow.When the Night Comes, Pretty Little Things, and Evil Deeds, Full Circle are just a handful of the films he has scored to date.
Today Mike is sharing his passion with young musicians around the country mentoring and guiding them as they set out on their own musical journeys. He says, “I was I was really kind of isolated growing up with no one encouraging me to do music. That’s why I think it’s so important to be a mentor to others and offer encouragement when and where ever you can. It can make a difference.”
Yes you can, and do Mike.
A teacher, Laurie Woodward is the author of several novels including Forest Secrets, and the fantasy series The Artania Chronicles. She also cowrote Dean and JoJo: The Dolphin Legacy and was a collaborator on the popular anti-bullying DVD Resolutions. Bullied as a child, Laurie is now an award-winning peace consultant and blogger who helps teach children how to avoid arguments, stop bullying, and maintain healthy friendships. She writes her novels on the Central Coast of California.