Daniel Pemberton Interview: ‘USS Callister’ composer
When composer Daniel Pemberton first saw a cut of “USS Callister (Black Mirror)” he thought, “This is brilliant, but it’s a shame I can’t do it.” The prolific musician was in-between working on the films “Molly’s Game” (2017) and “All the Money in the World” (2017), and felt he didn’t have the time to fully commit to the project. It didn’t help that it was “the most complicated episode of ‘Black Mirror'” he’d ever seen. But he decided to take the plunge anyway and scored his first Emmy nomination in the process. Watch our exclusive video interview with Pemberton above.
This installment of the Netflix anthology series stars Jesse Plemons as Robert Daly, a lonely tech engineer who has created a virtual reality game based on his favorite science-fiction TV series. He digitally clones a beautiful new employee (Cristin Milioti) and forces her to become a crew member aboard the ship, on which he serves as a merciless captain.
The episode was complicated from a musical standpoint because “you’ve got two different scores.” Everything taking place in the real world required “a near-future, modern, electronic-esque score.” But everything taking place in the VR game needed “a massive orchestral score that has to feel completely right for the period of the main character’s imaging of this space fleet, which is basically kind of 1960s pulpy sci-fi, like ‘Star Trek.'” And Pemberton not only had to come up with these different musical elements, he also had to blend them into one cohesive whole.
Pemberton previously received Golden Globe nominations for the films “Steve Jobs” (Best Score in 2015) and “Gold” (Best Song for the title tune in 2016). His video-game work brought him BAFTA bids for “The Movies” (2006) and “LittleBigPlanet” (2009). He has also scored such films as “The Counsellor” (2013), “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” (2015), “Ocean’s 8” (2018), and the upcoming “Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse” (2018).
Last year “Black Mirror” won Best TV Movie and Best Movie/Mini Writing (Charlie Brooker) for the episode “San Junipero.” This year “USS Callister” has seven nominations, including Best TV Movie, Best Movie/Mini Writing (Brooker and Williams Bridges), and Best Movie/Mini Actor (Plemons). In addition, “Black Mirror” picked up an additional bid in Best Movie/Mini Supporting Actress for Letitia Wright for “Black Museum.”