Navigating Hollywood, Episode 13:

Conrad Pope, Composer & Orchestrator: The Sound of Violet, My Weekend with Marilyn, Harry Potter movies, Star Wars movies, The Matrix Movies – Transcript

The original post for this episode can be found here.

Allen Wolf: Welcome to the Navigating Hollywood podcast. My name is Allen Wolf, and I’m a filmmaker, author, and game creator. Navigating Hollywood encourages and equips entertainment professionals to live relationally and spiritually holistic lives. If you work in entertainment, be sure to visit to see how you can get involved. Today, we are joined by the esteemed composer and orchestrator Conrad Pope. Conrad has worked with some of the most renowned film composers of all time, including John Williams, Han Zimmer, Danny Elfman, Alexandre Desplat, and many others. And if you don’t know those composers, you might recognize some of their movies. The Harry Potter movies, Indiana Jones movies, the Star Wars movies, The French Dispatch, Isle of Dogs, The Secret Life of Pets, Godzilla, Moonrise Kingdom, Night at the Museum, Schindler’s List. The movies go on and on. As a composer, he has composed the scores for My Week with Marilyn, Tim’s Vermeer, The Boss Baby, Pavilion of Women, and two films that I directed, In My Sleep, and our newest film opening soon in theaters, The Sound of Violet. Welcome, Conrad.

Conrad Pope: Hi, Allen. It’s great to be here and thank you for having me.

Allen Wolf: Great to have you. Well, many people probably don’t understand what an orchestrator does. Can you walk us through that?

Conrad Pope: Orchestrator is kind of a general handyman, if you will. Putting together a score for a film involves so many people and so much music, that a composer can’t necessarily have the time to both write the music and orchestrate it. So, what does that mean? A composer maybe will have a tune and some harmonies, and you can already hear the orchestra in the music, but he hasn’t got time to make the parts for the orchestra to figure out if this should be the oboe or the violins or what is going on. So what I’m there to do is to help the composer with whatever they need help with. In the case of someone like John Williams, he provides a very complete sketch, I would say musical shorthand where every detail is there, you just have to know how to read the shorthand. Other composers probably need a little bit more help. They might have a good melody but don’t know where to go from there. So a good orchestrator is sort of a handyman and somebody that knows every aspect of composing music for film and can jump in and help a composer with whatever they need help with. Can go from ghostwriting an entire queue for someone that needs to fill things in. So the opening of Gone With the Wind was actually composed not by Max Steiner, but by Hugo Friedhofer, his orchestrator, and so the entire opening sequence. But it’s all Max’s music, as Hugo would say, in the sense of that he took Max’s stuff and adapted it in the way that Max might have done it had he had time.

Allen Wolf: That is amazing.

Conrad Pope: It is. And Hugo was very modest about it because he said, as I would, “Without Max’s material, I wouldn’t have known what to do.” And so that’s kind of a brief overview.

Allen Wolf: Are there times where a composer gives you a basic theme and says, “Okay. Just create the rest of the score”?

Conrad Pope: Yes. That happened more when I first started out. With one composer, in particular, we would get what they call a temp track. After you finish a film, it doesn’t have music yet, and so in order to give the composer direction, a director will put in what music that they would like to have, music such as this. We want it to feel like this. And so oftentimes back then, occasionally we’ll get just a theme and then the temp track and they would go, “Can you adapt this theme with this kind of music?” And so it depends on where people need help. Generally, it will either be an action scene where there are a lot of notes to do, but it really is because of the high time frames of postproduction. With Harry Potter, the first Harry Potter film, I think the copying office did a quick count of how many notes were in the score. And because we had computers, it was copied on computers, and they found that there was about 1,250,000 notes. That’s a lot, if you can just imagine. And so John probably wrote about at least, I would say 250,000 of those notes in shorthand, and probably I put out about a million of them in each of the parts.

Allen Wolf: Oh, my gosh. That’s incredible.

Conrad Pope: And that’s just one film.

Allen Wolf: Wow. Wow. How in demand are you as an orchestrator?

Conrad Pope: Back in the day, I was in demand quite a bit. I was fortunate, like you said, to work with some of the finest composers that have ever worked in film. I always want to throw in James Horner, who meant a great deal to me. Back when it was a little bit different business of what I was saying earlier, I did a great deal of work. These days, I tend to conduct more than orchestrate, because I can be effective as helping out other people’s orchestrations or helping the composer at the session while we’re making the music. Because I’ve tried to turn to more working on my own concert music and other projects that I like, as well as working for a few select of my older clients. And so I’m kind of taking a little bit of a breather, if you will.

Allen Wolf: Okay. How often do you ghostwrite music?

Conrad Pope: Very rarely these days. Back, say in the 90s, what would happen then is that a composer– we didn’t have the technology we do today, and so a composer might write a theme out on a piece of paper and then we would try to figure out how that would go, and you’d actually write the whole queue. And orchestrators generally did all that. Back in those days, the composer’s team was very small. It’s generally the composer, a single orchestrator, and a music editor. The teams were small, and so we would have a very specific assignment about the ghostwriting, and so that’s how that would work. But as technology developed and as directors needed to hear demos, sort of pre-viz, if you will, sort of a director’s storyboard, the ghostwriting aspect of this slowly was turned over to composers’ assistants. Because with the advent of technology, composers these days, it’s less a solitary activity like when I first started. It’s more a kind of almost team sport. There is a composer that’s kind of the producer and he has a general idea for the score, and he might write a suite of ideas about the movie after he’s seen it. Then once they get the film, he’ll assign various themes that represent the characters or emotions to individual assistants, and they will do, quote, “the ghostwriting”, the arranging. And so orchestrators these days are, I would say, more of the copying office. Because what is delivered to the orchestrator these days is a demo of what the directors approved and the composers approved, and it’s fully orchestrated and it has to sound a particular way. And so the idea of an orchestrator these days is that they should make the music sound as close to that demo that’s been approved as they possibly can.

And so that’s very limiting in one sense, but it’s also freeing in that you don’t have to make as many decisions as, say, we did back 20, 30 years ago. Today, I would say to young people, if you’re looking to get started in the business, look to become an established composer’s assistant. I work frequently now with Tom Holkenborg, also known as Junkie XL, and Tom is always looking for assistants. And right now, in this time of streaming, this is the gold rush of music. People need lots of music for all these streaming services. Netflix, it supposedly has something like 1,000 series in development right now, and they offered one friend of mine 70 of those thousand, if he would just score all of them. So to young people and those that are still young at heart, there’s a lot of opportunity out there.

Allen Wolf: Wow. That’s amazing. When you have ghostwritten music, is it challenging when other composers get credit for the music that you composed?

Conrad Pope: I never found that, because I always think– I always use their ideas. And this is why I think I’ve been very successful as even a ghostwriter, is that a composer knows that if you turn it over to me, my job is to get into their head and try to think like they do. And so I’m really trying to do what they would do. And so in a way, I should have no credit because all I’m doing is trying to be as faithful to how I experience their music and try to convey that. And so therefore, I always go, “No. It’s really not my music. It’s my skill.”

Allen Wolf: You’ve always struck me as a very humble person. How do you stay humble while working in the film industry?

Conrad Pope: Well, I work with the film industry. Well, for me, when I talk about doing music, music’s been such a great adventure for me from the time I was a kid. And I tell people, if music doesn’t humble you every day, you should change the way you do music. And that you really shouldn’t be thinking, “What can I learn today?” What don’t I know? What would I like to know? And there’s always a new piece of music. There’s always a new challenge. That’s actually one of the things that’s even great about working in the film business, or at least from my end, is that I view myself more as a kind of storyteller and not necessarily somebody with a particular style. Now, maybe that’s bad, but I also tend to think I’ve got to adapt at times to the story. And so that’s a challenge. And just that challenge, that creative challenge, is enough to make one humble, I think. And then to sort of think in the film business, what should always make you humble, it’s not about you, it’s about the project. The more you put you first and the project second, you’ll be humbled very soon by being fired or not being known as a good collaborator. It’s very good to be somebody that people know I put the project first, I put listening to your ideas, and I accept everything. You have to be very, very open. So I think it’s good to have a humble attitude.

Allen Wolf: How did you first develop your interest in music?

Conrad Pope: I think it developed as just a sort of kid passion, like all kids. I’ve seen some of the videos of your children playing the piano and being very enthusiastic. I would be just one of these kids that would sing and sort of take in the culture as it was, as it were in those days. And so my grandmother got me a little violin and I played with that until I got frustrated. And then like a little kid, I busted it. That sort of set me off of that. They figured a piano was at least less destructible, I think. And so I think I always had an affinity for music for some reason. I was an only child, and that it’s something you can do by yourself and be frustrated. The hard thing is the challenge of doing it. And so I started pretty young, but I guess I didn’t think about actually becoming a professional musician until I knew what even a profession was, which is probably around twelve years old, and then I became very serious. And that’s how I got into it. But, basically, I was interested in jazz and classical, mainly classical, and then went away to school.

Allen Wolf: And is there something that triggered you to think, “Oh, I want to get involved with movies in particular”?

Conrad Pope: When I went to the Hochschule in Munich, they said, “What are you going to do with this marvelous education we’re going to give you?” And I said, “Oh, I don’t know. Teach,” because that’s what American classical composers did back in the day. They would get a university position and then go from there. And so after I was at– I guess, I was getting my graduate degree at Princeton University in composition, and I was offered a job at Brandeis University when I was 24 years old, to teach, and I took that. And academia did not agree with me. I’ll just simply say that. And then after a few years, I left teaching and I didn’t know what else to do. My father said, “Well, why don’t you try getting into the film business?” I said, “I know nothing about it.” And I came out, and through my father I met a music editor, and she said, “Oh, they need all kinds of people.” And I thought, “Well, I can fit into all kinds, at least,” whether or not they need my kind [with their kind?]. And so I worked my way here. But, actually, I was not very interested in film music, per se, until I decided to quit academia. I thought I can do something more relevant and more impactful in music for a vaster audience.

Allen Wolf: You mentioned seeing videos of my kids playing the piano. And that video that you’re talking about is specifically my daughter playing the theme from The Sound of Violet. Because she loved the music so much, that she doesn’t know how to play the piano, but yet she sat at the keys and figured out the theme song. And then there’s another video I think I sent you where both kids were actually at the piano trying to figure out the theme song. So she actually played that for her piano teacher. And her piano teacher said, “Oh, that’s really wonderful. Is that something you made up?” She said, “No. It’s for my daddy’s movie.” And she said, “Wow. That’s really beautiful.” So you’ve inspired my children, the next generation. Thank you. Well, when I was growing up, I loved listening to movie soundtracks, and I know a lot of friends who also did that and loved it. Why do you think that isn’t as much of a thing anymore?

Conrad Pope: I think it’s complicated, because I think that we now have a variety of voices now making all kinds of stories. And in a way, what people liked were the thematic elements of those films that we’re thinking of, whether or not it’s Star Wars or Harry Potter, or even back in the day of E.T. going on. And sometimes to tell the story and music for a score, the score doesn’t necessarily have to, quote, “be thematic”, and it doesn’t have to be orchestral. It has to be appropriate to what the story is. And so there’s this thing that we have some extraordinary music today. Let’s say, last night, we watched Ozark, and we’re fans of Ozark. And I love the scoring of Ozark, but it’s not necessarily a soundtrack I’m going to go buy, but when I see it in the film, it’s perfect. And so I think we’ve reached this thing– and this has also been influenced by sound design. James Horner, in an interview a number of years ago, he said, “Music eventually will become valued as much as foley.” And there’s a degree to which I think that that’s what’s happened as well. Unless there’s a sort of theme in a movie, you have to go to, what is the movie about? What best conveys it? Sometimes an overly thematic score or tonal score or sentimental score can be detrimental to telling the story, to the degree of that you sort of anticipate too much stuff. You’re just intrusive. You’re trying to lead the audience, and I think directors are afraid of that and I understand that. So I think it’s a complicated question, but I think that these things tend to go in cycles, and I think no matter what, we’re going to buy soundtracks of some films, at least, because they are worthy of that.

Allen Wolf: When you start the process of composing a score, what does that look like?

Conrad Pope: First get together with the director, like we have. I think that, again, it’s a collaboration. As an orchestrator, I’ve worked on well over almost 200 films in 30 years. But I know that composers– it’s very rare that a composer’s been on that many projects. So I always know that when I’m working for a composer, that he’s got a higher stake. He might do maybe– a composer that does even 40 films in a career is quite remarkable. To find somebody that does 200, say like Alexandre Desplat has, that must be a record. And so this is all by way of saying, when I’m meeting with a director, I always know that a director might make anywhere between 10 and 30 motion pictures in their lifetime, and that each motion picture, each project they’ve chosen to make, is very, very, very important. And so your responsibility is to honor that and know that they’ve got a lot riding on it, because as a composer, you can do probably more. You can do more than the director can. And so when you first start out, first get to know what the [director is?], and then what I try to do is just watch the movie five times. Because I think that what I want to do is get it in my head so I can play it in my head. Because when I play it in my head, more things occur to me, rather than always doing the quick time and looking at it in real time. And that’s what I used to like about the old days when we did this, was that a music editor– and this was back in the 90s. You’d have a quick time picture, but a music editor would write what the scene was. They’d mark down every cut in the scene and would give you an adjective. And in fact, I remember doing stuff for James Horner. There, I was doing some ghostwriting.

And I would get everything I needed from just the timing notes, and I wouldn’t have to look at the scene. And so I would internalize the scene, then write the music, and then match it up to the picture. But these days we don’t do that because it’s too expensive for the music editor to do that. And I think we’ve lost something in not really understanding the scene, because I always want to know, what’s the key moment in this scene, and do we acknowledge that musically or do we lead up to it and let it speak? And so it’s a process of getting to know the picture and then sort of working with the director. And then these days we almost make up our own temp tracks. We make music, and then like you and I, we go back and forth, and that’s how I go about it. It’s sometimes a long process. It’s always a challenging process because some pictures are more complicated than others. What’s funny is that probably it’s easier to score a Marvel film than a lot of other films because it’s kind of– even though it has a lot of notes and a lot of action, it’s a lot of fun, you sort of know what to do, because there isn’t complications of feeling within those things. And so the more nuance the film is, the harder it is, I think. But it’s understanding the characters. The major thing is understanding the story and the characters and then finding the right colors for them. And that’s a whole other conversation. And that’s the reason to do this, by the way. That’s what’s so challenging and why I enjoy doing it.

Allen Wolf: Well, your wife Nan is a very talented composer. What’s it like being married to someone who also creates music?

Conrad Pope: It’s fantastic, because I knew my wife worked before we got married. What’s great is that we have similar enough tastes and ideas about what we like to listen to, that it’s very compatible, and also what we think about music and how people compose is very compatible. What’s great, also, is that she’s different enough from me that it’s also a challenge. I learn things from her, and I’m always amazed at her voice. She has a very unique voice harmonically as a composer and as an arranger. She’s now known more as an arranger than as a composer, but back in the day she had so many Emmy nominations, it’s ridiculous. In fact, I’m in her office, and these are her Emmy and Grammy nominations in the back of me. So it’s not mine, but go ahead and think they are. I’m joking. She understands how hard this life is. I mean, to be really serious for a second for the inside baseball, is that, as you know, I spent almost 20 years of my life maybe working from 3 o’clock in the morning to 9 o’clock at night. And that’s just how this is. And so it’s very tough. And my wife was sort of born into the business and she did a lot of TV and all the rest of this. And it’s great to have someone that understands the demands and is forgiving, because I’m not going to say that when you have these kinds of hours that it doesn’t take a toll on your family. But hopefully you don’t take your frustrations out on your family and all the fruits of your labor will do something to enhance your family. And so that’s what’s great about being married to somebody that is in the same business, so to speak. And so I couldn’t be happier. And I wouldn’t dare speak for her, but I think she’s happy as well.

Allen Wolf: Do you give each other feedback on the music that you’re composing?

Conrad Pope: Yes. We do. And so if I have a doubt about something, I’ll play her something and she’ll go, “That’s fine.” Or she’ll go like, “You got to be kidding me.” And she plays me stuff. And I give her my two cents about stuff or my two semi demi quavers or whatever you want to call it. It’s a very nurturing relationship.

Allen Wolf: Well, as I’ve mentioned, you and I have worked on two movies together, a psychological thriller I directed called In My Sleep, and our upcoming film The Sound of Violet. I’m sure you remember we recorded the In My Sleep score in Bulgaria and in Los Angeles at the Warner Brothers Clint Eastwood Scoring Stage. And that was an amazing experience for me, because when I was in high school, I was part of a media workshop at UCLA, and we visited the Clint Eastwood Scoring Stage at Warner Brothers and we listened to music for upcoming movies. And I remember thinking at that time, “I hope I get to record music for one of my movies here someday,” and you helped that dream come true.

Conrad Pope: Yeah. No. And it was great. It was quite an adventure on In My Sleep. And so, yes, in Bulgaria, we got certain things done, and then we came back here and got more things done. And, again, that was a great score that I enjoyed working on. Your movies have such a range of what characters go through, that it’s such an invitation for the music to sort of follow that story. And so being at the Warner Brothers stage, it’s like history. Once you walk in there, you sort of feel like you can feel the ghosts of, not only Porky Pig, but I guess Humphrey Bogart as well.

Allen Wolf: We’ve had some private sneak preview screenings for The Sound of Violet, and the comment I hear over and over is how much people love your music in the film. How would you describe the music that you created for The Sound of Violet?

Conrad Pope: I would say that it takes you on a journey and tells you a story. It’s not just one kind of music. And the reason for that is the main character, who is autistic, is seeking love. And he’s new to love, but he works at a dating service, and so he has a kind of innocence about what love is and what it’s going to feel like. And so you have this sort of innocence and this yearning that he has for something he wants to find. But there’s also a darker aspect to the story in terms of the human trafficking. And as he gets sucked into that world, we discover a whole other dimension of human yearning, namely to be free, namely to be free of obligations, and that everyone is seeking a better life somehow, and through one kind of yearning to find love and the other to be freed from slavery, if you will. This sexual slavery that one of the characters is in, the conflict there. So the challenge of the score has to go from something that’s kind of light and hopeful, if you will, or the yearning of the main character, to something that can convey the danger and the sinister world and the dark world and the lack of hope that the characters experience. And that’s what’s so great in your film, how the faith of the characters offers another opportunity for music that is optimistic, that there’s a common place, whether you’re yearning for love or yearning to be free, that in their faith that they have found a common bond, and that is where all these dreams can be realized. And so there’s a sort of very healing message to the film. And that was the challenge, is to balance the sort of sweet aspects with the bitter aspects with the hopeful aspect. And hopefully people walk away with a sense of hope at the end and realize that whatever darkness is in the score was vanquished by the lightness and the hope.

Allen Wolf: What was the process like for you to create the score?

Conrad Pope: I found it very challenging because you have to make room for the story to play and yet you’re trying to set a tone, and tone was very important because the movie starts out one way and flips into this other way and then comes out on the other end. To take these various kinds of characters that they don’t start out one way and remain one way. People start out this other way, become another way, and then things change. That even within the darkness, that there’s a change. And so it was quite challenging to find the right colors and the right tones for these various parts of it. So I did a lot of experimentation and we worked it out eventually, and I’m very gratified by the result.

Allen Wolf: Yes. Me, too.

Conrad Pope: To listen to it, you just have to be prepared that this isn’t going to be a one-note score. That there are many notes and many shades and many harmonies, both pleasant and dissonant, and somehow they come together at the end with a message of hope.

Allen Wolf: You mentioned how scores used to be much more thematic and orchestral, and that’s the kind of music that I continue to love, and especially for the movies I create. So I love that that’s the kind of score that you created for The Sound of Violet.

Conrad Pope: And thank you for making a movie that will take that kind of score, because it’s all dictated by the film.

Allen Wolf: I wanted you to create this movie score from the moment I created the story. So you were able to read multiple drafts of the script and the book I wrote for The Sound of Violet. I remember early on, you played Violet’s theme for me and I immediately resonated with it. Here’s a piece of music that started with you playing this theme on your piano and then eventually rerecorded the score with a 52-piece orchestra, and you and your team layered all the music in to create the final musical piece.


Allen Wolf: A lot of people don’t know that you actually play the piano through the whole score, and it’s not an easy piano piece either. It’s incredible, the amount of work that you put in, to making the score happen. What is your favorite piece from the score?

Conrad Pope: It’s a piece that is very celebratory that comes as a surprise, I would say. I think just because I just love the idea that it dances a little bit. The opening, and the thing is so dadum, dadum, dadum…


Conrad Pope: And I also like the Grandma’s Theme, which is kind of a Thanksgiving hymn.


Allen Wolf: One of my hopes for the score of The Sound of Violet is that you get an Oscar to recognize your work. How do we get you an Oscar for The Sound of Violet?

Conrad Pope: We first have to get an Oscar for The Sound of Violet. This is how this [works?]. It’s very kind of you and it’s very generous. The thing is, is that you got to have good work and it’s great to have recognition, but it’s just all part of the Hollywood machine, if you will. Unless everything in the film sort of attains this kind of level, it’s very hard, but I’m very happy always with the recognition that the music gets with your movies. Because In My Sleep, people also talked about how good the film was and how good the music was, and so hopefully that will be the same with this.

Allen Wolf: So we’ve got to make sure The Sound of Violet is here in people’s minds, that people go see it. It becomes popular enough that enough people hear the score and think, “We need to recognize this score.” They nominate it. It sounds like that’s what needs to happen. So it’s more on me than anything. I’ve just got to–

Conrad Pope: Oh, yes. It’s all on you, because the music can’t cover itself. Because it’s one of these things that I wish, but no. We can hope that the Sound of Violet is – to use a term only used in COVID now – a breakthrough, as they say.

Allen Wolf: That’s right. A new kind of– a better breakthrough than the breakthroughs we’ve been all experiencing. We want the movie to go viral, but not in that bad way.

Conrad Pope: Not in that bad way. Yeah. Breakthrough this way. That’s how to do it.

Allen Wolf: How do you keep perspective while working in Hollywood?

Conrad Pope: This is going to sound corny, but I used to keep a picture of Nan and the four kids when they were little, right in front of me. And any time I became frustrated or wanted to quit or want to do something– I wish I could give you a more inspiring story, but I would sit there and go, “Conrad, remember, this is not about you. It’s about them. It’s about the film.” Like I told people, “If you’re working on a 100-million-dollar film, you think that problems go away? No. You just get a different problem.” And so it’s always going to be about the film, the story, making that successful, and you just have to try to make sure that you don’t make it about yourself. And if you can do that, you’re going to do okay. Remember, you’re supposed to have fun. It’s a movie, right? You’re telling the story.

Allen Wolf: Yes. Yes. What does your spiritual journey look like?

Conrad Pope: Ongoing, I would say. I’m a Christian in my soul. It’s given me perspective. There’s always a challenge, and I always go back to initial challenges of getting through life. I just try to stay humble and always remember, I get to make music. That’s a gift. That’s a gift from somebody and that’s a gift for some of us. I’m living very well in making art, and so I just have some gratitude. And that’s the major thing, is that if you’re just grateful for everything, everything seems a lot better. If you resent things– and I know how that can be, simply because there are peaks and valleys for all of us, but just remember, keep your faith until the very end.

Allen Wolf: How do you keep a healthy relationship with your wife while working in Hollywood?

Conrad Pope: Make time. And it’s particularly hard when you have kids. And I’d say raising kids, you got to make some sacrifices because you only have a few years, as they say. And the earlier years are really important, I think. And so just make time and go to a ball game and try to be as normal as possible. Because I assure you, when your kids get grown, they’re not going to be that impressed with everything, so.

Allen Wolf: Was there a moment during your career when you felt discouraged and wondered what would happen next?

Conrad Pope: I’d say the first seven years I was in town, every day. One of my mentors, a guy named Earle Hagen, who was the TV composer for things like The Andy Griffith Show and whatnot, he said, “You just got to be persistent. You got to understand that nobody cares that you’ve come here or anything else.” So he said, “The way to get ahead is send your stuff off, because the first time they see it, they’ll go, ‘Who’s Conrad Pope?’ Wait a month, send it off again, and they’ll go, ‘Conrad Pope. I’ve heard of him.’ And wait another month and send it off again.” And he would go like, “Conrad Pope, he seems to be everywhere.” So you have to have the faith that if you just are persistent, that you can’t be ignored. And I will say that. Because that’s part of the thing. I think it’s Lawrence O’Donnell who once observed that Hollywood’s the only place that is meant to keep you out, and it’s built, and that part of the thing about the business is how you can breach that wall and get over. And so I think that being discouraged and staying at home and saying, woe is me, is not going to fix the problem. That’s what you have to understand.

Allen Wolf: If you could go back and redo any part of your career, what would you change?

Conrad Pope: I wish I could change it for the– in a way, it’d be more my personality. I became a composer because I’m kind of a solo act, if you will. I’m happy being by myself and just scribbling away. That’s me. But it would have been more helpful here in town to have been more outgoing and to have been more sociable and to maybe have taken more of that route. But my route was different. I love music. I love the problems of music. And when somebody gives me music to work on, I just grab at that. It’s my happy place, if you will. Whereas doing the sort of social stuff, I think that’s important. I would have done that. And I think I would have continued more– if I had one good bit of advice that I regret on my part, is that I would emphasize, keep up all your relationships and celebrate their successes as they move on, and maybe they’ll help you some day.

Allen Wolf: At the end of your life, what kind of legacy would you like to leave behind?

Conrad Pope: I hope that to the people I work with, that I help them. That they knew that when they called me up that it was going to be okay. Because there’s one head of production at Paramount once said– when they engaged me for a very troubled project, they said, “Oh, we’re so happy to have you, Conrad, because you have musical value.” And what they meant by that, was that when I’m on a project, at least the studio would breathe easier, and so that it calmed everybody down. For a legacy, I did good work. I did the work needed, and it was effective, and I didn’t let my clients down, whether they’re musicians or filmmakers. I’d be happy with that. We’re people of particular time, and how we fill that time and how we’re known will be known by the works that we’ve done with others and for others. And it’s great if you can be remembered by the works, but if you can be remembered by the few people that you worked with even within just that generation after you, I think that’s a good legacy.

Allen Wolf: Well, thank you so much for being, not only my guest, Conrad, but my collaborator as well. I really appreciate just hearing more about your journey and all the wisdom you’ve shared. Thanks for being part of the podcast.

Conrad Pope: Thank you for having me, Allen. It’s been a great honor, and thank you for all the opportunities you’ve given me and all the times we’ve had together, whether it’s been in Bulgaria or places unknown.

Allen Wolf: If you work in entertainment, be sure to check out the complimentary courses and other resources available at Please follow us and leave us a review so others can discover this podcast. You can find our other episodes, transcripts, links, and more at I look forward to being with you next time.