It takes a highly driven individual with a seasoned skillset to be able to truly capture a film’s narrative with the music they create for a one or two minute trailer. Seen as the film’s first impression, movie trailers build anticipation; and when they’re brilliantly composed, they help bring viewers to the box-office.
Master composer Guy-Roger Duvert, who hails from France, is the kind of musical genius who’s capable of summarizing the vibe of a film’s story in a matter of minutes in a way that leads the audience to develop an emotional bond long before the motion picture is released.
With accolades ranging from film and television to soundtracks and documentary films, his eclectic array of symphonic talents have seen him compose for countless movie trailers across Hollywood, as well as creating original zombified sounds for Europe’s most expensive reality television show, “District Z.”
For over two decades, Duvert has showcased his unique ability to infuse any piece of music with raw sensation through original compositions that have captured the hearts of millions from around the globe.
Since relocating to the states in 2012, he has established a solid foundation with Pusher Music, a bespoke composition, label and publishing service that he continues to work with today.
He says, “The first time I came to Los Angeles in 2010 I met with Pusher Music. The contact was excellent, and they tested me on a trailer. I passed the test and started working for them.”
Duvert’s creative process differs with each project and he knows that the key to a successful composition begins with a strong framework.
“Usually, I want to have a structure pretty early on in the process– for instance with a bass, some drums or some string stacs, and after I’ll add up track by track in order to make the cue whole,” he says.
“The challenge with trailer music is that you need to respect a very precise structure… but at the same time you need to feel original, a strong theme or original sounds will help in that matter.”
Through Pusher Music he composed the trailers for the Oscar-nominated films “Lone Survivor” starring Mark Wahlberg and Ridley Scott’s “Prometheus” starring Charlize Theron, as well as Ryan Reynolds’ 2011 superhero flick “Green Lantern,” and the box-office smash “Transformers 3” directed by Michael Bay (“Armageddon,” “Pearl Harbor”).
The “Lone Survivor” trailer, which garnered close to 20 million views on YouTube also landed him the exclusive opportunity to reorchestrate the Peter Gabriel remake of David Bowie’s song “Heroes,” which also included Duvert’s stunning self-composed classical track “Ultima Necat” (2013).
His proven musical prowess coupled with his ability to turn a project over in a matter of days are a few of the factors that have led to his remarkable success
“I’m flexible and I’m fast, which are two important qualities for this specific business, as the deadlines are very short, usually two or three days,” he says. “It has happened in the past that I was asked to provide something in a few hours only.”
Duvert’s melodic brilliance and his ability to deliver compositions that both meet the deadline and wow the audience have led him to garner widespread praise throughout the industry.
“I believe Guy’s experience as a filmmaker strongly informs his work and allows him to more effectively create his music in a way that enhances storytelling, which is the most important part of our work,” says Netflix Music Creative and Pusher Music co-founder Rudy Chung.
“From the biggest Hollywood blockbusters to more intimate independent fare, Guy anticipates what our clients’ needs are, oftentimes before they are able to articulate it themselves.”
Through established reputation with Pusher Music, Duvert continues to create captivating film trailers for numerous award-winning filmmakers and international production companies.
He says, “I feel very lucky by the trust that Pusher has given me. Even when I had other projects on, I always tried to stay available for them, as it has always been a pleasure working with them.
What sets Duvert apart from the myriad of composers in today’s industry, is his creative perception of how a single piece of music can hold such a euphoric impact over the listener– and his ability to utilize that in support of the film.
Acting as the musical pillar behind the scenes, he is known as the director’s right-hand-man when it comes to orchestrating original sounds to support the vision of the film.
“The first part is to discuss with the director, in order to understand what he wants, what he feels, what he desires,” he says.
“In some cases they can have a very strong idea of what they want, in some others, it’s very vague. Most of them don’t know music, so I need to translate their impressions into musical ideas.”
Along with his uncanny ability to summarise an entire film into a concise and captivating clip, his original score compositions have become easily recognizable within many high-profile international television programs.
In 2020 Duvert demonstrated his unparalleled musical range as the composer for the French show “District Z,” which is known for being Europe’s most expensive and ambitious game show.
Set in a Zombie themed world, the reality show follows six celebrities who confront the living dead and overcome gruesome challenges for a chance to win gold. The incredibly successful show garnered groundbreaking ratings with more than 5 million people viewing the program in France (26% of the country’s TV viewers!).
Duvert had the enormous task of composing the score for the popular show, which required him to utilize a diverse range of original sounds.
He says, “The amount of music that I had to compose was huge, as the music editing of these kinds of shows are very different from fiction, much more ultra cut.”
Applying his vast skill set to the project, he composed over 180 differing tracks that drew upon classic Hollywood zombie themes infused with a bit of whimsy in order to harmonize the tone of the show with the mainstream audience.
“I used strong orchestral elements packed with electronic or industrial sounds. It needed to be massive and powerful. In a way, it was sometimes close to what I’m used to doing when I work on trailer music,” says Duvert.
“I also had to compose a pack of stressful tracks, which was fun to do. Finally, I had to compose very different music, much more lighted, as the game show is still family oriented at the end.”
Due to its overwhelming demand “District Z,” which is currently in the process of being sold internationally by SONY, has announced its second season, a move that means Duvert will return as the lead musical composer on the series, which is set for production later this year.
“Guy-Roger is not just a music composer. The fact that he himself directed and produced films allows him to understand much more our situation and needs. We won a lot of time by working with him,” says “District Z” producer Nicolas Fuchs.
“Also, the quality of his music is clearly superior to most of what can be heard out there, particularly when it comes to strong themes and melodies, and epic music.”
Guy-Roger Duvert’s knack for translating an idea into an original composition, which factors in every single emotion is a profound skill that only a handful can truly master, this, among many other key attributes, has defined him as a leading composer in today’s film and television industry.