One could say that the earth shook the first time Gerard Marino, GRCT ’00, prepared to conduct at Paramount’s recording studios. He remembers that the night before his first recording session at Paramount, as a student in the Scoring for Motion Pictures and Television program, the students were all a little nervous, and an earthquake happened to take place that night. Since most of the students were not from California, it was everyone’s first earthquake too! To say their nerves were a little rattled would be an understatement.
But this first session, and subsequent training and connections made at USC, propelled Marino into a career of composition for video games, TV, and movies.
Marino came to USC to pursue a career in music. Having always loved film music, he was intrigued by the SMPTV program.
“The first record I ever bought was the Star Wars record,” says Marino. He says that he was particularly interested in orchestral music, and wanted to write for orchestra. He was drawn in by the music bug – the feeling that leaves you wanting to come back for more.
Since graduating from USC Thornton, Marino says the network of alumni composers has been a great asset. “There is a nice camaraderie that has been build around this competitive field,” he says. He notes that fellow alumni composers appreciate the difficulties in the field, and are supportive of one another, and often employ one another.
He credits the connections he made at USC for much of his success, noting that working with students in the School of Cinema helped him to network with those who would be future filmmakers. A lecturer in the SMPTV program even helped get him his first job after graduation.
“When you are in college with that kind of brain power around you – utilize it,” Marino says as advice to current students. “Find the people that you’ll want to work with someday, and squeeze every last drop out of this opportunity.”
Marino’s career has led him into video game scoring, which he didn’t know would be an option when he was in school because the technology hadn’t yet evolved there. But, he was fortunate, and Sony took a chance on him for the video game God of War, for which he has earned numerous awards in composition. He has now composed five versions of the game, conducted it on the orchestral tour, including at the LA Live Nokia Theatre with the Golden State Pops Orchestra. Pointing further to the connections made at USC, Steven Fox, who founded and directs the Golden State Pops was in Marino’s scoring class at USC!
“Getting to personally conduct the music has definitely been a highlight of my career,” says Marino. He has traveled the world with this music, including stops in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.