Tracing the Brazil - U.S. connection

Brazilian talent shines in new AMC series (and beyond)

São Paulo native Gabriel Dib is part of the team responsible for the music of Halt and Catch Fire, a new series that premiered on ABC on June 1. Thanks to his work as assistant to the renowned film composer Paul Haslinger, Dib was invited to include several of his piano recordings, including original compositions, in the well-reviewed period piece about fictional Texas hackers in the 1980s.

Thomas Golubić (Walking Dead, Breaking Bad), the music supervisor on Halt and Catch Fire, heard of Dib’s skills as a pianist and contacted him asking that he submit some recordings. “I sent recordings of pieces by Chopin, Beethoven, an even an improvised boogie-woogie,” Dib said. “I got very excited when I came to know that all those recordings made into the show.”

But Dib has a lot more than this gig going for him. He recently wrote part of the original score for The Messengers, a series pilot that was picked up for production by the CW channel on the second semester of 2014. He has also been picked to compose music for two other TV series that are still in their pre-production or funding phases. Additionally, Dib is the composer on board the Brazilian RPG Vida, and is responsible for the scores of three shorts that are currently making their way around the global festival circuit — Cooper Justus’ Bed Time, Emily Railsback’s Six Stages of Sugar, and Brazil’s own Banho Maria by Miguel de Oliveira, which was included in the 2014 Cannes Film festival Short Film Corner.

A Brazilian abroad

“I came to the U.S. in 2011 for a transition from the commercial scoring business to film and TV scoring,” Dib said. “In Brazil I wrote and produced music for commercials but always dreamed of scoring films.” In 2013 he graduated from the MFA in Film Scoring program at Columbia College Chicago; during his two years in the Windy City he worked to improve his English and also had the opportunity to write music for short films, feature films, plays and commercials. “As part of Columbia’s program, I moved to Los Angeles for my final semester, where I had the opportunity to record my music at the legendary Capitol Records studio in the heart of Hollywood, definitely a dream come true,” he added.

Gabriel Dib in the studio
Gabriel Dib in the studio

Since his arrival in L.A., Dib has earned credits working alongside several composers. He worked with Kim Planert on the indie drama A Reason, with Bear McCreary on the STARZ adventure series Black Sails, with Henry Jackman on the early stages of production of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and with Heitor Pereira (another Brazilian) in the upcoming Despicable Me spinoff The Minions.

Dib feels that being Brazilian has had no bearing on the challenges he has faced in his American career. [I]n Hollywood, the competition between professionals is always a big challenge, no matter where they are from,” he said. “This is the world’s most important film and TV production hub, the majority of professionals in this field want to or are working here, and the best in their respective fields are working here. To be noticed is something that takes time, a lot of work and persistence. Even with a decade of working experience on composition, music production and music engineering earned in Brazil, it took me six months to find a composer that noticed what I have to offer and hired me as his assistant.”

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