Scoring for Film and Multimedia

Film Scoring Competition Winners 2010

NYU Steinhardt/Tisch collaborations featuring films with live orchestral accompaniment by the NYU Symphony Orchestra, Gerald Steichen conductor, New York City, March 8, 2010.

Featured films

Strange Land

Animators: Andrew Jerez, Harry Teitelman
Composer: Phillip Servati

After crash landing on a desert planet, a space traveler ventures out across the barren terrain hoping to spot a rescue ship. Unbenownst to him, he has already been spotted... Employing a unique combination of handcrafted miniature sets, stop-motion and 3D animation, Strange Land is a visual exploration of the grey area between reality and hallucination. — Andrew Jerez, Harry Teitelman

Andrew Jerez was raised breathing in the light mountain air outside of Denver, Colorado. He was drawn to 3-D animation as a genre that allows maximum control of both the aesthetic and narrative aspects of filmmaking. Strange Land tested both his patience and his sanity, and taught him the importance of balancing his time. Andrew is currently employed by Firstborn Multimedia, a company that has provided him with the opportunity to take his passions up to and beyond the professional level. Having graduated from NYU’s Tisch Animation Department last May, he hopes to make another film soon. Until then, Andrew anticipates honing his craft as much as possible, in an effort to someday rid the world of the visually banal.

Harry Teitelman graduated last year from NYU Tisch with a focus in animation. He currently freelances as a model builder and animator at various animation studios in New York City, and is working on a short animated film about his grandfather. He currently lives in Brooklyn, NY, where he draws, paints, and occasionally builds miniature spaceships.

Phil Servati is a pianist and a composer for film, television and multimedia. Based in Brooklyn, he approaches each project with a diversity of styles, ranging from pop and jazz to the orchestral palette. Phil recently collaborated with director David J. Fazekas and Rebecca Teitel on the documentary Waller County: Race at Six Feet Under, which premiered in Columbia University’s Doc Fest 2009. His score for the animator Tristian Goil’s short, based on Oscar Wilde’s The Birthday Of The Infanta, was featured at the Third Annual Short Short Story Film Festival in New York. Phil was one of nineteen composers selected from around the world to participate in the competitive 2009 NYU/ASCAP Foundation Film Scoring Workshop in Memory of Buddy Baker. In August, the Erie Chamber Orchestra performed Phil’s jazz arrangement of Ever In My Heart, composed and performed by jazz legend Bruce Johnstone. Phil is completing his Masters degree in Film Scoring at NYU Steinhardt, studying with David Spear.


Story and Animation: Bethany Heimbigner  
Composer: Edward Underhill

"Inspired by my family’s newly acquired puppy, Sucker tells a story of jealousy, greed, and inevitably, pain. A little yellow dog discovers a bone just out of reach beneath the couch. His effort to retrieve his prize is violently interrupted by an old, haughty vacuum cleaner more intent on tormenting the runt than maintaining a clean household. The battle between canine and machine ensues, leaving but one the ultimate victor and possessor of the bone." — Bethany Heimbigner 

Bethany Heimbigner was born in San Diego and raised in a nearby town called Poway. She acquired a passion for art at a young age, desiring since preschool to illustrate her first children’s book in Alaska. In high school, Bethany’s passion for art collided with her love of theater, furthering her aspirations to become a visual storyteller. After much deliberation, she chose to pursue live action filmmaking at NYU Tisch, where she unexpectedly fell in love with animation. Bethany has since graduated, completing one animated short, Sucker, and is currently finishing her second animated film. Alaska is still in the works.

Edward Allen Underhill began his musical career at age five when he started studying the cello. Picking up the piano shortly thereafter, he began improvising, which led first to writing pop songs and then a short musical. By the time he was 15, he had composed his first symphony which was performed by both the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and the Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra. Edward graduated from the Oberlin Conservatory in 2009 with a B.M. in Composition, having studied with Lewis Nielson, Amelia Kaplan, and David Lang. His performed works include a film score for Dreyer’s 1928 The Passion of Joan of Arc, a post-apocalyptic work for voices and percussion entitled Requiem Evangeline, and Through Adversity, which was chosen for performance on the Oberlin Composers Honors Recital in 2009. While at Oberlin, he served as music director, composer, musician, and performer for OCircus!, Oberlin College’s student cirque ensemble. During his senior year, he also received a commission to compose music for the PBS documentary series Great Decisions, which aired in February 2009. A first-year graduate student in NYU Steinhardt’s Film Scoring Program, he is a student of Ira Newborn.


Animators: Max Strebel
Composer: Robert Casal

"The short animation, Words originated from my experience with dyslexia, a topic that I have dealt with before in my work. Having struggled with words my whole life, and always found art a better way of communicating, I wanted to experiment with a medium that allowed me to bridge these two seemingly contradictory elements. As I started the project I realized that while reading has always been difficult, there is nothing that excites me more than a good story. The meaning behind the words on the page and what the words actually communicate is the very reason I make movies. It is this contradiction between fighting against words and embracing them that I am dealing with in the narrative of the film. The technical aspects of the movie are also representative of the ideas I am working with. The animation is made up of more than 800 individually drawn frames painted directly onto text from books, juxtaposing painted art with written art. While dyslexia was where the piece was spawned from, it turned into a more relatable movie about struggle and acceptance." —Max Strebel

Max Strebel, born and raised in San Francisco, California, is currently a sophomore attending NYU Tisch School of the Arts where he is majoring in Film and Television. While living in the Bay Area, he participated in the non-profit organization, San Francisco Art and Film for Teenagers. Over the course of six years, he made over a dozen short films that have screened in festivals nationwide including the San Francisco International Film Festival, the Mill Valley Film Festival and the Nashville Film Festival. Max completed the animation Words during his first year at NYU. The short film has screened at the Santa Fe Film Festival, the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, the Bernal Heights Film Festival and the AT&T Ballpark in San Francisco, where it won the Ed Rev first place award. Since he finished the animation, Max has gone on to direct a music video for the New York-based band TriBeCaStan. He has also made promotional videos for The Nueva School and art educator Malcolm Wray. In the last three years Max has interned for Big Beach Films, Filbert Steps Productions and Mevio.

Robert Casal, composer, conductor, and orchestrator, was born and raised in New York City. He is in his final semester at NYU Steinhardt, pursuing a Masters in Music in Scoring for Film and Multimedia. He graduated from The Catholic University of America in 2006 with a Bachelors in Music in instrumental music education and a minor in composition, where he studied with Dr. Andrew Simpson and Dr. Anthony Randolph. For the following two years he taught band, piano, jazz, and guitar at a private high school in Arlington, Virginia, having led ensembles in festivals in Orlando, Williamsburg and New York. While at NYU Steinhardt, Robert’s works for percussion ensemble and solo flute, have been performed, and he has participated in three professional recording sessions in the Frederick Loewe Theater. At Steinhardt, he has studied with Dr. Jerica Oblak, Richard Shemaria, Andy Milne and currently, with Ira Newborn. In creating his score for Words, he sought to musically convey the story through manipulation of a simple motif comprised of the notes B, C#, D and E. Like the words swirling about the main character, these notes begin to cause hardship for the protagonist until he is able to gain control and use them in positive ways. Originally written for 13 players, reorchestrating and adapting Words for the NYU Symphony Orchestra proved to be a fun and interesting challenge.

Mister Jung Stuffed

Animator: Ann Orrin
Composer: Daniel Merrill

Mister Jung Stuffed was animated almost entirely by hand using a mix of magazine cutouts and found objects. Each character was put together using tape and string, and then animated on different panes of glass to create compositions. The entire process of collecting the images from magazines, putting them together, and then animating took approximately three weeks. —Ann Orrin

Ann Orrin recently graduated from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts with a degree in Film Production and a focus in animation and post-production. Over the course of her studies, she has directed, animated, written, shot, edited, art directed, and built spaceships for several short films. She is currently traveling through Eastern Europe, volunteering on organic farms through WWOOF.

Daniel Merrill is a second year Master of Music candidate in the Scoring for Film and Multimedia program, studying with Ira Newborn. He also composes concert music and releases acousto-electric pop music under the name Top Cop.

Mister Jung Stuffed was an exercise in creating musical narrative around images that may or may not suggest a clear dramatic arc. Because of this openness, I had a fair amount of freedom in interpretation. The visuals are exciting, colorful, whimsical and move at a wild pace, and I felt the music should reflect these same qualities. I looked towards circus music, calliope music, Vaudeville, and 1960s Hanna-Barbera cartoon themes as models, and ended up with a celebration of the fun and bizarre.” – Daniel Merrill