Veigar Margeirsson on His Trailer Score for Joker and Fans' Healthy Pressure on Creators
Veigar Margeirsson is a film score composer and co-founder/VP of creative at Pitch Hammer Music, an L.A.-based music production company that specializes in theatrical marketing campaigns, motion pictures, TV shows and themes.
Veigar oversees a team of music composers, sound designers and mixers who create premium original music scores. Pitch Hammer has custom scored and secured licenses in hundreds of major motion picture campaigns, including Joker, One Upon a Time in Hollywood, Green Book, Fantastic Beasts: Crimes of Grindelwald, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, Deadpool 2 and Ready Player One.
Veigar is regarded as an industry leader in orchestral scoring with thousands of combined placements in motion pictures, television, commercials and trailers. In addition, he has written arrangements and orchestrations for many orchestras such as the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, the Iceland Symphony Orchestra and the Reykjavik Big Band.
We spoke with Veigar for our Backstory series, where we chat with folks in the entertainment industry about their creative inspirations and more.
Veigar, tell us...
Where you grew up, and where you live now.
I grew up in Iceland and started music at 11, studying trumpet and piano. Moved to the U.S. at 21 to study composing and arranging in Boston, Miami and Los Angeles. Ended up staying in the U.S. for two decades, spending most of that time living and working in L.A. My wife and I are both Icelandic, so we moved back a few years ago with our kids, and we now get to enjoy the best of both worlds—running music businesses in Iceland and the U.S.
Your first job in the industry.
Assisting composers on a show called The Power Puff Girls and at the same job writing some library music tracks for Killer Tracks. Around the same time I was also working with a composer/arranger, Vince Mendoza. He was creating arrangements for Joni Mitchell's Both Sides Now orchestral album. I had to program all of Vince's arrangements and create a synthesized orchestral mockup of the songs for Joni to practice to.
A breakthrough moment in your career.
There have been a few breakthrough moments. The first one was when I did my first trailer, a TV spot for John Singleton's Baby Boy, for producer Martin Kistler at then Harley's House. Within days I was working on the trailer for Ocean's Eleven with veteran producer Richard Redfield, and the ball started rolling pretty quickly.
A couple of years later, I was one of the three composers redoing the Requiem for a Dream theme for The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers marketing campaign. The new piece, Requiem for a Tower, still has a life of its own, 18 years later!
Three movies you couldn't do without.
A hard question. So many come to mind.
The Shawshank Redemption. Things just come together so brilliantly in it. It's my favorite movie.
Interstellar. Deep and profound.
Groundhog Day. Guilty pleasure. For some reason I can watch this film over and over again.
Your favorite movie quote.
"It's supposed to be hard. If it wasn't hard, everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great." —Jimmy Dugan (played by Tom Hanks) from A League of Their Own. Even though baseball isn't my sport, I find this quote to be so adaptable to anything in life.
Your favorite movie trailer or poster.
Poster: Jaws. I remember this as a kid and just freaked me out. And I was so little that I couldn't understand how the photographer got that shot!
Trailer: So many to choose from! I love the 300 trailer. Great use of song and visually very grabbing. I remember just loving this trailer the first time I saw it.
A classic TV show and a recent TV show that you loved.
A recent project you're proud of.
I am very proud of the score we did for the trailer for Joker. I really enjoy working with the team that brought me on board, Scott Goldman and Anny Colvin at JAX. It was an exciting challenge to come up with a twisted version of the late Stephen Sondheim's "Send In the Clowns" and getting a chance to use Frank Sinatra's vocal in there, too! Tony Fiala did an outstanding job on the music with me.
Someone else's project that you admired recently.
I don't know who did the music for this SPELL trailer, but I think it is pretty brilliant. Fantastic use of new elements with tastefully worked master of an existing song. I love how the trailer never goes full throttle musically, but rather lets the space between the notes create massive impact.
One thing about how entertainment marketing is evolving that you're excited about.
I've been doing this for a while and I really enjoy seeing fan interaction online. People get really excited about certain campaigns and have opinions on what we do and how we do it. I think that's a good thing for all creators. Adds a little bit of healthy pressure.
What would you be doing if you weren't in entertainment marketing.
I'd be writing symphonies and big band charts. And I would spend some more time outdoors.