The Classic Film “Boiler Room” Turns Twenty

Original Post 2/18/2020

Boiler Room was the first feature film that I scored in its entirety. It was director Ben Younger, who railed against hiring one of the usual suspects to score his film. New Line did what most studios do with first time directors, they put forth a short list of guys that would be safe to hire. They’re the same guys that get all the gigs, to mitigate any risk, not necessarily because any of them are a great creative fit.

So before executive Dana Sano threw my name into the hat, Ben had been asked to meet with virtually every male composer in town. But there was something missing for him. He had a strong vision for the music that would feel authentic to the world of his characters. And it was bold. When we met for the first time, he told me that all of the source music would be 90’s hip hop and he didn’t want traditional, melodramatic score to take the audience “out”.

I was already producing records for Bay Area rapper, Mystic and remixing my label mates, The Pharcyde, and my sound was a blend of hip hop, dub, jazz and soul. The connection was organic. We were both New Yorkers. I spoke Ben’s language. We had the same love of hip hop and something that was even more important to him, we had virtually the same music collection…

I listened. I cared about his vision… better still, I knew how to credibly achieve it. Had anyone taught me how to do this? No. It was all instinct. As soon as I started working to picture, it flowed. And at that point, working to picture became my greater passion.

So Boiler Room turned twenty today. It was released on Feb 18th, 2000 with a premiere at Sundance on Jan 28th at Premiere at Eccles Theater in Park City. Sundance was beautiful, the skiing was great and the premiere was vibey. There was a lot of excitement around the young cast; Giovanni Ribisi, Vin Diesel, Nicky Katt, Nia Long, Ben Affleck, Tom Everett Scott, Scott Caan, Jamie Kennedy, Jon Abrahams and the rest is history.

Ben dared to follow his gut and to this day, any time I’m introduced to someone in sales and they know I scored this film, the reverence is there… and the quotes come thick and fast. “Act as if…”, “Telling’s not selling…”, “Anybody who tells you money is the root of all evil doesn’t fucking have any.”

When I revisited Roger Ebert’s review, I got a good kick out of his observation about Vin Diesel, “Diesel is interesting. Something will come of him.”

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