Jeff Danna

Canadian film composer
Jeff Danna
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Background information
BornBurlington, Ontario, Canada
OriginToronto, Ontario, Canada
GenresFilm and television scores, Celtic, jazz, ambient, electronic
Occupation(s)Composer
Years active1989 – present
Websitewww.jeffdanna.com
Musical artist

Jeff Danna is an award-winning Canadian film composer. He has composed or co-composed scores for a wide range of films and television, including The Boondock Saints (1999), Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004), Silent Hill (2006), The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (2009), The Good Dinosaur (2015), Storks (2016), The Breadwinner (2017), The Addams Family (2019), Onward (2020), Guillermo Del Toro’s Tales of Arcadia (2020), Nora Twomey’s My Father’s Dragon (2022) and Julia (2022).[1]

His older brother, composer Mychael Danna, is a frequent collaborator, and the two have received Emmy nominations for their work on Camelot (2011), Tyrant (2014-2016), and Alias Grace (2017). Additionally, Danna has been nominated for six Annie Awards, won five BMI Film & TV Awards, a Gemini Award, a Genie award, two Hollywood Music in Media Awards, and 15 SOCAN Awards.[1]

Early life

Danna was born in Burlington, Ontario, to a musical family active in local theatre and church choir. A reluctant young piano student, Danna found solace in an electric guitar left behind at his home by a friend. Unknowingly following in the path of three generations of Winnipeg mandolin players, progress came quickly. He began playing professionally at the age of 15 until a hand injury brought his performance career to a halt at 22.[2]

Career

Danna's first foray into film scoring occurred while recovering from his injury. Unable to play for extended periods of time, his brother, Mychael, suggested that he record the guitar parts on some of Mychael’s first scores, figuring that they could take breaks at intervals as necessitated by his injury. Seeing a way to sustain his music career, Danna turned to film scoring. Subsequently, the brothers' first co-writing venture, Cold Comfort, was nominated for a Genie award and laid the foundation for Jeff’s career in film and many future collaborations with his brother.[2]

After cutting his teeth on independent Canadian features, Danna moved to Los Angeles to begin his work in television, landing jobs on the CBS crime show Sweating Bullets, Beverly Hills 90210, and the Warner Brothers' legacy title, Kung Fu: The Legend Continues. A series of television movies followed, notably Showtime’s My Own Country for director Mira Nair, The Matthew Shepard Story (a Gemini Best Score winner), Ice Bound, and Spinning Boris for director Roger Spottiswoode.

Feature film work began with the indie Uncorked (At Sachem Farm), starring Minnie Driver and Rufus Sewell, featuring the on-camera fingerstyle guitar solo showcase of the influential "Ross' Concert," played in the studio by Danna and Dean Parks. This was followed by the cult classic The Boondock Saints, which featured choral and orchestral elements mixed with electronica, along with "The Blood Of Cu Chulainn,” a Danna brothers' offering from their album, A Celtic Romance.[3]

Following that was Tim Blake Nelson's O, a modern-day retelling of Shakespeare’s Othello. Danna took the opportunity of the Shakespeare connection to employ a vielle and a viola da gamba in combination with dark orchestral colors, his first of many uses of early music instruments in his scores.[4] By the time O was released in theaters, Danna was at work again with Tim Blake Nelson on his World War II Holocaust drama The Grey Zone. Nelson’s desire for an onerous death camp atmosphere meant that there would be no score in the film until the final credits, where Danna composed a dissonant and powerful dirge, merging a small chamber group with Klezmer soloists, using an approach akin to modes of limited transposition to evoke both a terrible beauty and desolation.[5]

2001 brought forth the first of many collaborations with acclaimed filmmaker Brett Morgen on The Kid Stays in the Picture, a celebrated retelling of producer Robert Evans' book of the same title.

In 2003, Danna was in London working with The London Philharmonia on the large-scale score for The Gospel of John, a medley of which the Philharmonia performed in their summer concert at Royal Festival Hall.

Resident Evil: Apocalypse followed in 2004, earning Danna four SOCAN Awards for International Film Music, and then a reunion with brother Mychael on Terry Gilliam’s Tideland, their first time working together since their Celtic albums, seven years prior.

2006 and 2007 found Danna in Toronto, scoring the movie adaptation of the hit video game franchise Silent Hill for director Christophe Gans. Danna followed that with another Brett Morgen collaboration on Chicago 10, then legendary director Lord Richard Attenborough’s final film, Closing The Ring, and another collaboration with Mychael for Fracture, the psychological legal crime thriller starring Anthony Hopkins and Ryan Gosling.

The following year, the brothers went on to score Sony’s crime thriller Lakeview Terrace, starring Samuel Jackson. The duo then collaborated with Terry Gilliam again for The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus, which was nominated for Best Original Score for a Fantasy Film by the International Film Music Critics Awards. Danna's ongoing work with Brett Morgen brought forth Nimrod Nation, a 30-for-30 episode, and the acclaimed documentary Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck.

In 2014, Jeff and Mychael wrote the original music for the FX series Tyrant, earning them both a Hollywood Music in Media Award for the Main Title, as well as Emmy nominations for Outstanding Music Composition for a Series (Original Dramatic Score) and Outstanding Original Main Title Theme Music, the same category for which they were previously Emmy-nominated for their work on Camelot in 2011.

In 2015, the brothers composed the score for Disney Pixar's The Good Dinosaur, which received a BMI Film and TV Award for Film Music, three SOCAN Awards, a nomination for Best Original Score for an Animated Film by the International Film Music Critics Award, and an Annie nomination for Outstanding Achievement for Music in an Animated Feature Production. More sibling collaborations followed, notably the original score for Warner Brothers' animated film Storks which won a BMI Film and TV Award for Film Music, and Ang Lee’s Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk.

In 2017, Jeff and Mychael undertook scoring Nora Twomey’s The Breadwinner, which had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival. The Breadwinner was nominated for an Annie Award for Outstanding Achievement for Music in an Animated Feature Production, won the Best Original Music Award from the Annecy International Animated Film Festival in France and won the Canadian Screen Award for Film Score of the Year. The brothers followed up that effort with Alias Grace for Netflix, for which they were Emmy nominated in 2018 and garnered a nomination for a Canadian Screen Award.

Returning to animation in 2018, Danna wrote the music for Guillermo del Toro’s animated science-fantasy series Tales of Arcadia, which includes the titles 3Below, Wizards, and Rise of the Titans for Netflix and produced by DreamWorks Animation.

Jeff and Mychael then worked together to score the animated feature The Addams Family, released in 2019, which earned a BMI Film & TV Award for Film Music, and Disney Pixar’s Oscar-nominated animated film Onward, which opened in theaters on March 6, 2020, for which they received an Annie nomination for Best Music for a Feature, a BMI Film & TV Award for Film Music, and an International Film Music Critics Award nomination for Best Original Score for an Animated Film. Following that, he and Mychael wrote the original score for the MGM feature The Addams Family 2, earning them a Hollywood Music in Media Award for Best Original Score for an Animated Film and a BMI Film & TV Award for Film Music.

2021and 2022 saw Danna working for HBO Max on the acclaimed series Julia, based on the life of iconic chef Julia Child,[6] and he reteamed with Mychael and Cartoon Saloon co-founder Nora Twomey for My Father’s Dragon. A reunion with Guillermo del Toro followed as Danna composed the music for the episodeThe Graveyard Rats in Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities.[1]

Filmography

Film

1980s-1990s

Year Title Director Notes
1989 Cold Comfort Vic Sarin Co-composed with Mychael Danna
1998 At Sachem Farm John Huddles
1999 The Boondock Saints Troy Duffy
1999 New Blood Michael Hurst

2000s

Year Title Director Notes
2001 Green Dragon Timothy Lin Bui Co-composed with Mychael Danna
2001 O Tim Blake Nelson
2001 Monsters, Inc. Pete Docter Additional music
2001 The Grey Zone Tim Blake Nelson
2002 The Kid Stays in the Picture Nanette Burstein
Brett Morgen
2002 Easter Richard Caliban
2003 Kart Racer Stuart Gillard
2003 Spinning Boris Roger Spottiswoode
2004 Resident Evil: Apocalypse Alexander Witt
2005 Ripley Under Ground Roger Spottiswoode
2005 Tideland Terry Gilliam Co-composed with Mychael Danna
2006 Silent Hill Christophe Gans
2007 Chicago 10 Brett Morgen
2007 Fracture Gregory Hoblit Co-composed with Mychael Danna
2007 Closing the Ring Richard Attenborough
2008 Lakeview Terrace Neil LaBute Co-composed with Mychael Danna
2008 Finn on the Fly Mark Jean
2009 The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day Troy Duffy
2009 The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus Terry Gilliam Co-composed with Mychael Danna
2009 Formosa Betrayed Adam Kane
2009 The Cry of the Owl Jamie Thraves
2009 Leaves of Grass Tim Blake Nelson

2010s

Year Title Director Notes
2010 The Last Rites of Ransom Pride Tiller Russell
2011 Thin Ice Jill Sprecher
2012 Silent Hill: Revelation M. J. Bassett
2012 Erased Philipp Stölzl
2015 Cobain: Montage of Heck Brett Morgen
2015 The Good Dinosaur Peter Sohn Co-composed with Mychael Danna
2015 Sanjay's Super Team Sanjay Patel Short film, co-composed with Mychael Danna
2015 Anesthesia Tim Blake Nelson
2016 Newtown Kim A. Snyder Additional music
2016 Storks Nicholas Stoller
Doug Sweetland
Co-composed with Mychael Danna
2016 Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk Ang Lee
2017 The Breadwinner Nora Twomey
2019 The Power of I Steve Hickner
Gary Trousdale
Short film, co-composed with Mychael Danna
2019 The Addams Family Conrad Vernon
Greg Tiernan
Co-composed with Mychael Danna

2020s

Year Title Director Notes
2020 Onward Dan Scanlon Co-composed with Mychael Danna
2021 Trollhunters: Rise of the Titans Johane Matte
Francisco Ruiz Velasco
Andrew Schmidt
2021 The Addams Family 2 Conrad Vernon
Greg Tiernan
Co-composed with Mychael Danna

Television

Television films

Year Title Director Notes
1992 Kung Fu: The Legend Continues Jud Taylor
1998 My Own Country Mira Nair
2000 Baby Robert Allan Ackerman
2002 The Matthew Shepard Story Roger Spottiswoode Co-composed with Mychael Danna
2003 Mafia Doctor Alex Chapple
2003 Miss Spider's Sunny Patch Kids Mike Fallows
2007 Disney Princess Enchanted Tales: Follow Your Dreams David Block

Television series

Year Title Creator(s) Notes
1993-1996 Kung Fu: The Legend Continues Ed Spielman
1991-1993 Tropical Heat Sam Egan
1996-1997 Beverly Hills, 90210 Darren Star
2001 So Weird Tom J. Astle 1 episode, "Thinkin' About Tomorrow"
2003 Kid Notorious Brett Morgen
Robert Evans
Alan R. Cohen
Alan Freedland
Theme by
2004-2006 Miss Spider's Sunny Patch Friends David Kirk
2005 The Zula Patrol Deb M. Manchester
2007 Nimrod Nation Matthew Akers
Jeff Fisher
Erica Forstadt
Christo Garcia
Todd Lubin
Benjamin Wolf
2008 Independent Lens Brett Morgen Episode: "Chicago 10" (Season 10, Episode 1)
2010 30 for 30 Bill Simmons
Connor Schell
2010-2011 Babar and the Adventures of Badou Michael Stokes
2011 Camelot Michael Hirst
Chris Chibnall
Co-composed with Mychael Danna
2012-2014 Continuum Simon Barry
2014-2016 Tyrant Gideon Raff Co-composed with Mychael Danna
2017 Alias Grace Mary Harron
Sarah Polley
Margaret Atwood (based on the novel by)
2019 3Below: Tales of Arcadia Guillermo Del Toro
2020 Wizards: Tales of Arcadia Guillermo Del Toro
Marc Guggenheim
Aaron Waltke
Chad Quandt
2022 Julia Daniel Goldfarb

Video games

  • Trollhunters: Defenders of Arcadia (2020)

Awards and nominations

Association Year Work Category Result Notes Ref.
Primetime Emmy Awards 2018 Alias Grace Outstanding Music Composition for a Limited Series, Movie or Special (Original Dramatic Score) Nominated Shared with Mychael Danna [7]
2015 Tyrant Outstanding Music Composition for a Series (Original Dramatic Score) Nominated
Outstanding Original Main Title Theme Music Nominated
2011 Camelot Nominated
Annecy International Animated Film Festival 2018 The Breadwinner Best Original Music for a Feature Film Won [8]
Annie Awards 2021 Onward Outstanding Achievement for Music in an Animated Feature Nominated [9]
2018 The Breadwinner Nominated [10]
2016 The Good Dinosaur Nominated [11]
BMI Film & TV Awards 2022 The Addams Family 2 Film Music Won [12]
2020 Onward Won [13]
The Addams Family Won
2017 Storks Won
2016 The Good Dinosaur Won
Canadian Screen Awards 2018 The Breadwinner Achievement in Music - Original Score Won [14]
Alias Grace Best Original Music, Fiction Nominated
2013 Continuum Best Original Music Score for a Series Nominated For the episode, "A Stitch in Time"
Fright Meter Awards 2012 Silent Hill: Revelation Best Score Nominated Shared with Akira Yamaoka [15]
Hollywood Music in Media Awards (HMMA) 2021 The Addams Family 2 Best Original Score - Animated Film Won Shared with Mychael Danna [16]
2014 Tyrant Main Title - TV Show / Digital Series Won
International Film Music Critics Award (IFMCA) 2021 Onward Best Original Score for an Animated Film Nominated [17]
2018 Alias Grace Best Original Score for Television Nominated [18]
2016 The Good Dinosaur Best Original Score for an Animated Film Nominated [19]
2010 The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus Best Original Score for a Fantasy/Science Fiction Film Nominated [20]
SOCAN Awards 2018 Storks International Film Music Award Won [21]
Achievement in Feature Film Music Won
The Good Dinosaur International Film Music Award Won
2016 The Good Dinosaur Achievement in Feature Film Music Won
Domestic Feature Film Award Won
2015 Erased Won
2011 The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus International Film Music Award Won Shared with Mychael Danna
2009 Resident Evil: Apocalypse Won
2008 Won
Fracture Domestic Feature Film Award Won Shared with Mychael Danna
2007 Resident Evil: Apocalypse International Film Music Award Won
2006 Won

References

  1. ^ a b c "Jeff Danna". IMDb. Retrieved 2022-08-23.
  2. ^ a b "Interview with Jeff Danna – Film Music Institute". Retrieved 2022-08-23.
  3. ^ "Jeff Danna Biography, Songs, & Albums". AllMusic. Retrieved 2022-08-23.
  4. ^ "O". Jeff Danna. Retrieved 2022-08-23.
  5. ^ "The Grey Zone". Jeff Danna. Retrieved 2022-08-23.
  6. ^ Julia, retrieved 2022-08-23
  7. ^ "Jeff Danna". Television Academy. Retrieved 2022-07-10.
  8. ^ "Film Index". www.annecy.org. Retrieved 2022-07-10.
  9. ^ "49th Annual Annie Awards". annieawards.org. Retrieved 2022-07-10.
  10. ^ "49th Annual Annie Awards". annieawards.org. Retrieved 2022-07-10.
  11. ^ "49th Annual Annie Awards". annieawards.org. Retrieved 2022-07-10.
  12. ^ "2022 BMI Film, TV & Visual Media Awards". BMI.com. Retrieved 2022-07-10.
  13. ^ "BMI Film, TV & Visual Media Awards 2020". BMI.com. Retrieved 2022-07-10.
  14. ^ "Broadcast Gala". Academy.ca. 2018-03-11. Retrieved 2022-07-10.
  15. ^ "2012 Fright Meter Award Nominees!". Retrieved 2022-07-10.
  16. ^ "HMMA Winners". Hollywood Music In Media Awards. Retrieved 2022-07-10.
  17. ^ "2020 IFMCA Awards". IFMCA: International Film Music Critics Association. 2021-04-02. Retrieved 2022-07-10.
  18. ^ "2017 IFMCA Awards". IFMCA: International Film Music Critics Association. 2020-02-06. Retrieved 2022-07-10.
  19. ^ "2015 IFMCA Awards". IFMCA: International Film Music Critics Association. 2016-11-23. Retrieved 2022-07-10.
  20. ^ "IFMCA announces its 2009 nominees for scoring excellence". IFMCA: International Film Music Critics Association. 2010-01-29. Retrieved 2022-07-10.
  21. ^ "2018 SOCAN Awards - Toronto - Winners List". www.newswire.ca. Retrieved 2022-07-10.

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