David Wingo (‘The Report’ composer) on creating a ‘spare,’ ‘insistent’ score for ’70s-inspired true life thriller [EXCLUSIVE VIDEO INTERVIEW]

For composer David Wingo, “The Report” was “the kind of movie I’ve always wanted to work on,” something that’s “in the vein of ’70s paranoia thrillers” like “All the President’s Men” (1976) and “Three Days of the Condor” (1975). “I feel like those kinds of movies aren’t getting made that much anymore, and those are some of my favorite films and some of my favorite scores.” The composer spoke at length about his score for the film while appearing at Gold Derby’s Meet the Experts panel, hosted by managing editor Chris Beachum. Watch our exclusive video interview with Wingo above.

Wingo has long been attracted to films that are essentially about “people exchanging information to one another, and it’s mostly talking,” which is something that doesn’t happen a lot in the titles he works on. He was given the opportunity with this Amazon release about the efforts of Senate staffer Daniel Jones (Adam Driver) and Senator Dianne Feinstein (Annette Bening) to release a report on the Bush White House’s post-9/11 detention and interrogation centers. “An overall theme of this film is about power and the non-relative nature of truth,” which is something he wanted to express in his score.

Musically, “you’re wanting to be on the edge of your seat. You never want to think about the fact that you’re just watching people talking and exchanging information.” Yet because writer and director Scott Z. Burns had made the film “in a non-sensationalistic way,” it was “the job of the music to do the same. We don’t need to spruce up” the action or “emotionally manipulate these facts.” Ultimately, “it was my job to give propulsion to this, to feel the gravity of it.”

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He reveals that Burns “did not want a dramatic, orchestral score for this. He wanted it to feel somewhat contemporary and of the moment.” Because of that, “going in a more synthetic direction made more sense to me.” This helped him create something that was “spare but somewhat insistent.”

Wingo earned his first Emmy nomination this year for “Barry,” which also brought him a Cinema Audio Society bid. He is best known for his collaborations with David Gordon Green (“George Washington,” “All the Real Girls,” “Snow Angels,” “The Sitter,” “Prince Avalanche,” “Joe,” “Manglehorn,” “Our Brand is Crisis”) and Jeff Nichols (“Take Shelter,” “Mud,” “Midnight Special,” “Loving”). He’s currently working on the second season of “Kidding.”

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