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Samuel Lam composes beautiful score in new award-winning football doc

Composing the score of a film, for Hong Kong’s Samuel Lam, is like painting a picture. First, he has to choose a color palette by picking a combination of instruments. Then he has to create the composition structures by choosing the form, key signature, meter and harmony. Lastly, he has to execute his idea by finding the right sound and right musicians. Lam is extremely passionate about the process of composing, and with every note of music he writes, he falls in love all over again.


Lam is an in-demand composer and orchestrator all over the world, known in China for his remarkable work on movie blockbusters like Crazy Little Thing and Crazy Alien, and in the United States on award-winning films such as Who Lives My Life? and My Ex-Girlfriend is a Shovel. He is extremely versatile, knowing how to capture the story of any genre of film through his music.

One of Lam’s most recent projects is the documentary Delay of Game. It is the telling true story that begins in the wake of an NFL superstar's suicide, as coaches and families tackle the dangers and rewards of playing youth football.

“Youth football is such a controversial subject in California. It is so important to learn both sides of the argument before making your decision, and this documentary is truly meaningful and educational on the subject,” said Lam. “I always wanted to work on a project about football. I feel honored to be a part of it.”

Because it is a documentary, Lam knew it was important for the music to remain neutral, but still serve the film and help tell the story. The editor put in temporary music to help him understand the general ideas for different scenes. They watched the film together with the temp music and discussed what worked and what didn’t. Lam had a different approach than the editor, and the director gave him the freedom to do as he wished.

Lam’s biggest influence came in the film’s most pivotal moment, in a montage sequence that is playing back the 911 call for Junior Seau’s suicide. Initially, the editor temped the scene with emotional, sad music. Because the documentary is about the dangers and rewards of playing youth football, Lam felt the choice of sad music was inappropriate. He made the choice to score the scene with suspenseful music, and the director agreed it was a much better option and better told the film’s story.

“This was the first documentary I had worked on and it was a real learning experience. I’ve worked on many films, but this was different. This is somebody’s real story, and I felt the responsibility to be heartfelt and pure in my music. I have to craft the music according to the edits, the tempo of the interviews and speeches, and respect to the character’s life,” said Lam.

Lam’s approach resonated with audiences. Delay of Game had its premiere at the First Look 2019 Festival and was awarded the best in category in the First Look Industry Award nominees. It has now begun its festival run and has already been selected for two prestigious international film festivals, including the Lift-Off international Film Fest and the Martha’s Vineyard African American film festival, which the latter may qualify the project for Oscar Competition.

“I am really thankful for the chance to score the project, and I hope more people will learn about the subject from the documentary,” Lam concluded.

By John Michael
June 5th, 2019

Samuel Lam composes beautiful score in new award-winning football doc Reviewed by JaamZIN on 5:15:00 PM Rating: 5
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