Emmy-winning composer Geoff Zanelli's work is more familiar to Disney audiences than they may realize, due to his numerous collaborations with iconic composer Hans Zimmer on such Disney blockbusters as Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest and Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl.
Academy Award-nominated writer/director Peter Hedges (Dan in Real Life, What's Eating Gilbert Grape) brings enchantment to the screen with The Odd Life of Timothy Green. It's the inspiring, magical story of a happily married couple, Cindy and Jim Green (Jennifer Garner and Joel Edgerton), who can't wait to start a family but can only dream about what their child would be like. When young Timothy (CJ Adams) shows up on their doorstep one stormy night, Cindy and Jimand their small town of Stanleyvillelearn that sometimes the unexpected can bring some of life's greatest gifts.
There were several themes in The Odd Life of Timothy Green that resonated with Zanelli when he began to plan the score. "I realized that this is a beautiful movie about what it is to be a parent," said Zanelli, father of a 2-year old girl, "and what it is you can learn from your children if you let them teach you."
The theme of nature also inspired Zanelli, whose goal with the score was to keep it very acoustic, organic and handcrafted. He explains, "I wanted every single aspect of the music to have some type of human element, and not feel disconnected from the audience the way a giant orchestra or synthesized instruments can sometimes feel. So the instrumental groups were much smaller than you'd expect. I handpicked each musician who played on the score, focusing on players whose individual styles and voices would connect in a distinctly human way with the audience." To achieve this Zanelli used folk instrumentation including ukuleles, guitars, dulcimers, banjos and organic materials found inside the world of Timothy Green like branches, rocks and pencils.
Director Peter Hedges comments, "Geoff read the script and then wrote two very impressive cues on spec. The first had a big sweeping melody and musical heft. So I was immediately interested. The second cue, which he called 'Quirkington,' was much smaller in scope but it, too, had an unforgettable melody. Here he also used an unconventional group of instruments. These cues evidenced Geoff's tremendous range. And I loved how his music made me feel. There was an innate beauty, a playfulness, a pathos, a sense of hope."
Since the changing of seasons is featured in the look of the film, Zanelli's music also reflected the seasons and the passing of time. "As you're following the story of the Greens, it turns lighter and darker with the seasons and I wanted the music to reflect not only the changing of seasons, but the passing of childhood," comments Zanelli. "There are a lot of pacing elements in the music, which are there to signify the passage of time. You only get so much time here on Earth and that's definitely represented in the music."
Zanelli attended the prestigious Berklee College of Music and began his musical career as a guitar player. In 1994 he moved to Los Angeles to join Academy Award-winning film composer Hans Zimmer's studio team. This led to a working relationship with John Powell on films including Face/Off, The Prince of Egypt and Forces of Nature. He later teamed with Harry Gregson-Williams and Powell to write additional music for Antz and Chicken Run, and with Zimmer on Hannibal, the Golden Globe-nominated scores for Pearl Harbor and The Last Samurai and the four films of the Pirates Of The Caribbean series. Zanelli's solo film composing work includes David Duchovny's feature directorial debut House Of D, David Koepp's Secret Window, Disturbia, Hitman, The Pacific for which Zanelli garnered an Emmy nomination, and Steven Spielberg's Into The West, which earned Zanelli an Emmy.