Posted by: uclaextensionmusic | May 30, 2012

Interview with Film Composer, Charles Bernstein

Emmy Award-winning composer Charles Bernstein will once again be teaching the UCLA Extension course, Bringing the Power of Music to Film this summer. Perfect for anyone interested in the art of film scoring, the course examines the crucial contribution music makes to narrative and emotional expression in film. We recently had a chance to catch up with the instructor to talk about this exciting class!

UCLAx: What sets your class apart from other film music courses? What can students expect to gain by the end of the quarter?
CB: I have designed this course to address two aspects of film music: the actual art of creating film music as well as the practical aspects of the profession. This course attracts both filmmakers and composers, and we examine an entire range of issues confronting both composers (including songwriters) and directors in applying music to film. By the end of the series, I hope everyone will have a fresh and useful perspective on what it means to “Bring the Power of Music to Film.”

Charles Bernstein with composer Alf Clausen – UCLA Extension Class field trip 2011 “The Simpsons” session

UCLAx: Last year you took your summer class on a field trip to “The Simpsons” recording session with Alf Clausen. What do you think was the most valuable lesson that students can take away from observing a professional scoring session?
CB: There is nothing like watching and listening to the top film composers actually recording their music. I have personally learned so much of what I know by attending recording sessions of people like John Williams, Ennio Morricone, Jerry Goldsmith, John Powell, Michael Giacchino, and so many others.

UCLAx: What do you love most about your job? Has there been a single project that you have enjoyed most or that you are most proud of?
CB: It’s hard to single out a particular favorite. I have composed music for well over a hundred feature length films, many additional documentaries and shorts, and written countless songs for movies as well. I have been very lucky to work with so many directors noted for being “music savvy,” like Wes Craven, Michael Mann, Penelope Spheeris, Joe Sargent, and lately, Quentin Tarantino. So, I guess I would say that each project is special to me, and a favorite, certainly while I am working on it!

UCLAx: What are you currently working on? Do you have an exciting projects coming up?
CB: I am currently working on an interesting documentary film. I always share what I am working on with my students so they can experience some “real time” issues that composers go through from day to day. (Updates and more information are on

UCLAx: Do you have any advice for aspiring composers?
CB: Basically, to have have faith in yourself, be pro-active and soak up all the great music, movies and knowledge that is all around us! For about ten more weeks of advice, join us this summer at UCLA Extension


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