Sundance 2020: Carolyn Talks…With Anthony Willis, Composer on ‘Promising Young Woman’

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Promising Young Woman

Composer, Anthony Willis sets the musical tone of his latest feature film project, Promising Young Woman with a mix of orchestral renditions of popular disco and pop songs such as “It’s Raining Men” by The Weather Girls, and light airy pieces, giving the film a dark fairytale atmosphere that perfectly fits its tale of hope and revenge. 

During the 2020 Sundance Films Festival, Carolyn had the opportunity to speak with Willis about his work on Promising Young Woman. Written and directed by Emerald Fennell, Promising Young Woman shows how the thirst for vengeance, guilt, and loneliness make for a dangerous combination, when Cassie (Carey Mulligan), decides to seek retribution against so-called “nice guys”, after the death of her best friend Nina.

Promising Young Woman

After Cassie meets Ryan ( Bo Burnham), she realizes that moving on and giving love a chance might not be so bad after all, but when she reconnects with an old college acquaintance,  secrets are revealed and Cassie realizes that sometimes the big bad wolf needs to be confronted.

During the interview Carolyn and Willis discuss his creative process, the differences between working on films, animated projects like How to Train Your Dragon: Homecoming and Fortnight, and why string instruments are so effective at heightening emotions.

About Anthony

Promising Young Woman

Composer Anthony Willis has taken a running leap into the Neverland of film scoring, working on some of the most exciting projects of recent years. Anthony’s credits include Dreamworks Animation’s 2019 Holiday Special, How to Train your Dragon: Homecoming, Seasons 6, 7 & 8 of the video game sensation Fortnite, Michelle Morgan’s Sundance Selection comedy: It Happened in L.A., Sony Playstation’s BAFTA nominated video game Knack II, & David Yarovesky’s horror thriller,  The Hive. Up and coming projects include Emerald Fennell’s Dark Comedy thriller: Promising Young Woman starring Carey Mulligan, and Amin Matalqa’s animated adventure, Hump, starring Simon Pegg and Gaten Matarazzo.

A protégé of Oscar-nominated composer John Powell, Willis has become a sought after talent, also contributing additional music to many of Hollywood’s major franchises including How to Train your Dragon 2 & The Hidden World, Jumanji: The Next Level, Solo: A Star Wars Story, Ralph Breaks the Internet, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, Jason Bourne, Rio 2, Despicable Me 2, Pan & Ferdinand.

Working alongside Henry Jackman, Anthony composed additional music for Nate Parker’s 2016 Sundance Winner The Birth of a Nation and contributed additional arrangements to Harry Gregson-Williams’ acclaimed score for The Martian. His additional music credits also include Papa: Hemingway in Cuba (for Mark Isham) Apple’s documentary The Elephant Queen (for Alex Heffes), Monster Trucks (for David Sardy) and My Spy (for Dominick Lewis).

Willis grew up in London and began his musical training as a chorister of St. George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, England. He went on to study Composition at Marlborough College, Wiltshire and the University of Bristol, before earning his graduate degree from the University of Southern California. He is based in Los Angeles.

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