Written by Kenny Wood
What inspired me to work on The Naughty Nine was really so many things! Firstly, director Alberto Belli is a dynamic storyteller so anything he's a part of is going to be exhilarating from start to finish.
I was so proud of him when he got tapped to direct, I know it was a dream come true for him as a big fan of Disney movies and Christmas in general. Alberto's also a huge fan of music in film, so there's not a single project [of his] where I wouldn't want to be involved. I have as much fun scoring his movies as the actors do when they play their parts.
On The Naughty Nine, I got to read the script very early on and the story was way cool. It had all the elements of a great heist film and the heart of a Christmas classic. Not only that, there were musical score indications written into the script! So from the outset, I knew music was going to be a huge part of this. And, sure enough, everything was a blast from the first note to the last.
Disney The Naughty Nine | Official Trailer | NEW Disney Original Christmas Movie | @disneychannelwww.youtube.com
In terms of the creative process, Alberto and I talked about it early on and what kinds of set pieces were going to be built. The very first thing was to make a conga-line dance track for the big party scene.
It had to incorporate musical elements from all around the world as the elves are incredibly diverse just like the ensemble cast. It was amazing how well that party scene worked with so many people in such a beautifully decorated hall. The rest of the score had to follow suit.
The heist sequences needed the usual hip-sounding jazz ingredients, but they also needed the size and scale of the orchestra as they blossomed into these huge cinematic moments.
Thankfully, previous movies I worked on—including Rescue Rangers, Despicable Me 3, and the last three films of the Fast franchise—provided great blueprints for figuring out how it was all going to work. That being said, many projects have to be completed in a limited time, and this one was a real crunch. Thankfully we were able to get everything in.
What made it memorable was how similar the scoring process was to the story of The Naughty Nine itself.
We had a planning phase and things started off well, but like any good story, unexpected events happened almost every step of the way, and sure enough we were racing out of the mouth of a figurative volcano and just barely able to grab my hat a la Indiana Jones before the whole thing collapsed shut.
And when it was all said and done, and the Disney folks were pleased, Alberto and I looked like heroes! I'll never forget that. I learned a lot from that experience.
Those movies I mentioned earlier, in addition to my background in orchestral music and jazz, had a lot to do with getting the heist and holiday genres to play nicely together.
I'm a huge proponent of music education in schools and if not for the wonderful education I had, this score might not have been realized in the way it did. Support your local arts education!