WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Tim Greiving

Miloš Karadaglić was eight when he noticed the dusty guitar sitting on a shelf in his house in Montenegro.

"I think my father had this guitar when he was young, and when he tried to seduce my mother — and once he got her, I don't think he played it ever again," Miloš says, laughing. "Typical sort of behavior. I got this guitar and, seriously, the moment I held it in my hands, I felt I found my best friend."

In some ways, making a movie isn't too different from running a business: At the end of the day, it's just a set of relationships. Financial interests clash with creative ones. The mission depends on who's in charge. And when new management comes in, sometimes people further down the chain find themselves suddenly out of a job, too.

Kris Bowers' film-scoring career started, strangely enough, with a word of praise from the Queen of Soul — Aretha Franklin.

The 31-year-old composer has been tickling the ivories since he was a little kid, growing up in the Mid-City neighborhood of Los Angeles. He always loved film scores (E.T. was a heavy favorite), and he was one of the few Black students at his arts high school. He studied at Juilliard, and in 2011 he won the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Piano Competition.

The 2000 film Requiem for a Dream celebrates its 20th anniversary this fall, and in that time there's at least one part of its legacy that's never faded: the music. The movie's haunted original score spawned a kind of breakout hit that would ripple through media for years to come, while also kickstarting a new career for its British-born composer, Clint Mansell.

Rachel Portman has been scoring films since the 1980s, and in 1997 became the first woman ever to win an Oscar for best original score for her work on Douglas McGrath's Emma. Since then, Portman has scored dozens more films and TV shows, but is now stepping away from the screen with ask the river, her first album of music not written for a movie, TV show or stage production.

"There were hardly any female film composers," Portman says of winning an Oscar at that time.