A Series of Unfortunate Events: Interview with composer Jim Dooley

Jim Dooley - Photo Courtesy of Dooley's PR
Jim Dooley - Photo Courtesy of Dooley's PR /

Hidden Remote chats with Jim Dooley, the Emmy-winning composer of Netflix’s A Series of Unfortunate Events and Disney’s live-action Kim Possible movie.

If you’re a fan of Netflix’s A Series of Unfortunate Events series, then you might be interested to learn more about the man behind the musical score of the show. Jim Dooley is an Emmy Award-winning composer who chatted with us here at Hidden Remote about his work on ASOUE in addition to Disney’s recent live-action Kim Possible film.

Hidden Remote: What drew you to composing for film and television, specifically, as opposed to other musical avenues?

Jim Dooley: I saw a short film in high school in which a cue ball was being rolled up and down our hallways. The film used Danny Elfman’s Batman soundtrack. After that I was hooked, whatever this sorcery was, I wanted to be a part of it!

HR: What is your process for composing on a project? Does it change based on the genre you’re composing for?

JD: I generally like to begin with research and sample-making. For example, for Epic Mickey I studied the scores to Mary Poppins, Pinocchio, and Peter Pan to get into that sonic world. Making your own samples is a great way to start with something new. Your choices in sound echo your point of view which is important when creating music.

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HR: What did you enjoy most about composing for A Series of Unfortunate Events? Were there any specific scores you found most rewarding?

JD: I love the team effort on the show. It takes trust to create wonderful things and this show is exactly the case example. It’s great how every book in the series requires a new sonic palette and thematic material. It makes it new again for me.

HR: Who were your favorite characters from A Series of Unfortunate Events?

JD: Writing the theme for Esme was a real treat. I wanted to give her motion and power so I used a bit the rhythm from the ‘Habanera’ from Carmen.

Also, the scenes with our Librarian/Madame Lulu were lots of fun. Both Lucy and Sara have great timing so that made my life a lot easier.

HR: Were you familiar with the original Kim Possible cartoon? Was it fun to score a Disney film? I imagine there’s a certain amount of levity that would make it enjoyable.

JD: I wasn’t too familiar with the original cartoon. The film was designed to epic and not cartoon-y. I was directed to score our Kim Possible as an epic action hero. It allowed me to be very comfortable in the style of the score.

HR: You’ve gotten to score a couple of horror films, is there a certain way you approach horror as opposed to other genres? To build tension and suspense?

JD: If you really want to scare someone, get quiet or silent right before. The best part of horror films is your sound can come from anything. This allows me to be as creative as I can. Out of tune and neglected instruments can be the star! You have to open your mind to the possibilities and not look at objects/instruments in traditional ways.

HR: Do you have any specific inspirations you draw from when writing new compositions?

JD: Well, nothing is as inspirational as a deadline.  Seriously though, at the end of the day, I look at the first thing I’ll do the next. It gives me the maximum amount of time to imagine what I could do with it. I do this so by the time I start writing I’m pretty warmed up mentally.

HR: If you could pick a dream project to work on, what would it be?

JD: That’s easy! Something like The Muppets Take Manhattan. I love writing the songs/score in combination.

Next. Interview with film and television composer Marc Jovani. dark

Thank you to Jim Dooley for chatting with us! You can stream all three seasons of A Series of Unfortunate Events on Netflix right now!