Pinar Toprak (‘McMillion$’ composer) on how fun it was to score a documentary ‘with so many characters and different moods’ [EXCLUSIVE VIDEO INTERVIEW]

When Pinar Toprak began composing the score to “McMillion$,” she found herself drawn to the contrasts within the film’s material. Toprak says in our recent webchat (watch the video above), “In every story, there’s some moments where you have… different moods and you have to shape the story along with it, but with this particular documentary, there’s certainly so many characters and so many different moods.” These differences gave her a “beautiful canvass” on which to build her score. “There’s lots of comedy, there’s mystery, drama, heart and emotion, loss, pain and heartache. It was really fun to write.”

“McMillion$” documents the crazy story of how, for more than a decade, the McDonald’s Monopoly game was actually rigged. The winning pieces were stolen by the head of security for Simon Marketing, the firm that was responsible for the game, and given to a person in organized crime who would sell them. The series earned five Emmy nominations including Best Documentary Music, which earned Toprak her first career Emmy nomination alongside fellow composer, Alex Kovacs.

Toprak’s nomination is specifically for the first episode of the series. She reveals it was a joint choice and one of the reasons it felt like the right choice was because of how it introduced so many of the story’s main characters. But there were also other reasons she thought the score for that episode was very special. “Musically, it has a lot of colors and it showcases different styles and moods. We felt that that would be an appropriate one.” She also disclosed that while she loves the entire score for the series, she really does love the main title theme.

Toprak’s discovery of her nomination was also a memorable experience for her. She had been working late the night before the nominations and slept in that morning. “I look at my phone and it’s off the charts. So many messages and voicemails and I’m like, ‘Oh my God. Something awful must have happened!'” She was extremely relieved when she saw the reason for all the messages and was especially grateful that nothing bad had happened. But she also had a little help in guiding her fate to this nomination. “I have this vision board of things I want in life and the Emmy is on my vision board.”

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