The winner of this film scoring competition might surprise you.
On June 27, Westworld fans and film score enthusiasts alike waited eagerly to learn the results of Spitfire Audio's Westworld Scoring Competition. According to Spitfire, the competition drew over ten thousand entries from both aspiring and experienced composers.
The entrants were asked to take an action sequence from season three of Westworld and compose music for it. According to the announcement video from Spitfire co-founder Paul Thomson, they wanted compositions to enhance the viewing experience, be creative and unexpected, and help tell the story on the screen.
From the thousands of entries, just five runners-up and one grand-prize winner were chosen.
The first-place winner was announced as David Kudell from Rimrock Creative Media. Kudell is a sound editor, director, and producer who has worked on films like Mission: Impossible III and Kill Bill: Vol. 2.
And... well, the music Kudell composed for the scene might not be what you expect. Listen to the winning composition in the video below.
Responses to the winning entry have been mixed. For instance, on Twitter, game composer Austin Wintory called Kudell's work "out-of-the-box" and a "bold move." But many other composers who entered the competition commented that they were confused about how the winning score met the brief.
Spitfire co-founder Christian Henson (who was not involved in the competition) released a video statement about the backlash. "The proof is in the pudding," Henson says in his video. "Someone dared to be different, and they emerged victorious." Henson also praises Kudell's "reckless artistry" and says this kind of brave creativity is what pushes industries forward.
Indeed, it is almost always a risk to do something like Kudell did, and the execution of something so different has to be nearly perfect to work. The entry was certainly effective at standing out and surprising the judges enough to catapult it to a win.
Kudell said via Twitter that this was actually the first time he has ever shared his music.
Huge love to the many people who have taken time to send messages of support. I’ve been writing music since I was 15 and until now haven’t shared it. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there.
Huge love to the many people who have taken time to send messages of support. I’ve been writing music since I was 15 and until now haven’t shared it. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there.— David Kudell (@davidkudell) June 29, 2020
If anything, this should be an encouragement to jump into new creative endeavors while also embracing your unique point of view. It might be just what someone in the audience wants.
Competition judges included Westworld composer Ramin Djawadi, showrunners Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy, executive producer J.J. Abrams, and members of the Spitfire Audio team. Watch Spitfire's full announcement video below.
What do you think of the winning composition? Let us know in the comments.
What's next? Check on more on film scores
Check out a beginner's guide to scoring films. Here's some advice from composer Hans Zimmer, who says you don't need formal training or experience. And take a look at all these free post-production assets (including music) for your next project.