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October 2016

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CW SUPERHEROES 30 POST OCTOBER 2016 Comic Book BY MARC LOFTUS Composer Blake Neely and team score Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl & D.C.'s Legends of Tomorrow C omposer Blake Neely has been working with producer/direc- tor/writer Greg Berlanti for well over a decade. In 2012, they again entered into a collaboration in which Neely helped establish the musical identity for Arrow, the bow & arrow-armed vigilante Oliver Queen. The series helped launch another superhero-themed show with The Flash in 2014, and their collaboration continued with last year's addition of Supergirl and D.C.'s Legends of Tomorrow. Currently, Neely and his team are creating nearly three hours of original music each week for the four shows, all of which can be seen on The CW Television Network. Here, he takes some time out to speak exclusively with Post about his work in the genre, his equipment set-up, and the process of scoring to picture while meeting the deadlines of multiple weekly series. How did you get involved in all of these superhero-themed shows? "I've been working with Greg Berlanti since his first new show ever in 2002, and I think is was 2012 — we'd done so many shows by that point — he gave me a script for Arrow and said, 'I'm going to really try to change superheroes on TV.' So we did the pilot for Arrow and when it premiered, it was like the biggest ratings the CW ever had, and it con- tinues to be very strong of a show. They decided to do a spinoff of The Flash — introducing him in Season 2 of Arrow instead of having his own pilot. Then we launched The Flash. It started from there. The very next year was Supergirl and Legends of Tomorrow…and here we now. All four are on the same network." There's lots of crossover between the shows and their characters too? "Oh yeah. It's not just four shows. All of these characters are coming in now. I just got to write Superman a new theme because he's going to ap- pear on Supergirl. We had Hawkman and Hawkgirl in Legends of Tomorrow. In Flash we had Kid Flash. There's so much coming out." Are you creating the sound of a show or are you creating the sound of characters? "[During] the initial show, they weren't discussing spinoffs or anything like that. The original show Arrow, I was just trying to create a world for Oliver Queen and the characters that would be on that show. Then when we launched Flash, since he debuted in Arrow, he was going to have his own sounds because we knew he was going to go on and become his own thing. Where Arrow is not su- pernatural powers, on Flash there are. My approach was to establish another sound world for Flash. It was, 'How do we fit it in and fit it in the whole DC television sound universe?'" How much music does any one show require? Has it changed over time? "It hasn't progressed. Greg has a mantra about these shows, which is: It's got to have heart and it's got to have spectacle. They've always been big. They're always moving. Greg said to me, 'Never forget, we are making a comic book.' To that end, there's lots of music in all of these. I usually count on it being about 35 minutes of music in each of these shows. Sometimes it's 40 minutes. The epi- sodes are 42 minutes long. Sometimes we literally don't stop to take a breath." Did you create a library that can now be re-used? "You have to. Every single scene is hand craft- ed, but sometimes you are handcrafting it from something in the library…I think Arrow now has 60 hours of music in the library? Sixty hours after four years. Supergirl — we just did one season and there's already 14 hours, so I do rely on that. Forty minutes across four shows a week? Don't scare me, but how many hours of music is that a week? A library helps a lot, and so does a team of fantastic composers." How far in advance are you working on the weekly episodes? "Right now, because we haven't launched the season yet, I'm ahead. I have about two weeks on episodes. Once the season starts, we usually spot a show 10 days before it airs. That's when I have the locked cut. We have to mix it a week from that, and deliver it a day before. I get a week from the locked delivery to mixing it. There are ways to stretch that a little bit…but basically, if we are not turning around a show a week, we'll fall behind." Are you writing to picture or just viewing it for inspiration? "I am always working with the visuals because all these shows, they are so timed out, you have to be hitting it. There are so many beats to hit in the sto- rytelling. One of the first things in the process is to watch it without music because that tells you where you need music. Now we know the shows so well that I can watch it with the temp music in and kind of go through and decide what I want to do with it. For me, the double edge sword is that the temp is me! For The Flash, they have two seasons worth of music. While its nice to not have to copy someone else in the temp, it gets a little difficult to listen to yourself and go, 'I have to do that again, but better this time.'" Blake Neely NICOLE GODDARD PHOTOGRAPHY Arrow

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