By Katie Chambers
Welcome to the NYWIFT community, Grace-Mary Burega! Grace-Mary is a composer for film, TV, and video games as well as a woodwind multi-instrumentalist on saxophone, clarinet, and flute. Her compositions have been on TV PSAs and in short and feature films, and she has scored over 30 films to date.
Grace Notes is her media composing company, specializing in custom music for a variety of projects such as documentary, horror, comedy, animation, and more. Grace-Mary is a recent Masters in Film Scoring graduate of Berklee Online. She is the Secretary of Women in Film and Video of New England and Secretary of the Female Composer Safety League.
Grace-Mary spoke to us about her favorite projects, latest game obsessions, and how Women in Film organizations have shaped her career.
Tell us about yourself – give us your elevator pitch!
Have you worked hard to create a film or advertisement, putting all your energy, and emotions into the project? Then find the royalty-free or stock music is not propelling your unique story to your viewers? I write custom music that can take your artistic vision and emotionally move your audience based on your vision of where the media should take them.
What is your favorite genre to work in? And favorite medium? Any favorite projects to date?
I hope to have a diverse career that spans mediums, such as scoring for films, TV, video games, PSAs, and advertisements. If I had to pick my favorite medium, it would have to be documentaries.
I did my Master’s thesis on the role of music in documentary films. I scored the documentary The Compact by Jonathan Hill, which is a Civil War era historical documentary about 12 men that make a compact during the war to meet many years after the war is over. I also interviewed several documentary composers and filmmakers to gain insight into the scoring process and how music impacts the story. I loved scoring this documentary because I got to bring to life historical events and make the characters relatable to current audiences. I worked with different themes in order for the score to be cohesive and interesting.
What inspires you?
I am passionate about animal rights and the environment, and I am increasingly interested in documentaries and creating music for a purpose and cause. I wish to be a part of the most pressing stories of my generation in order to add my music as a call for action.
What is the best advice you ever received?
I had the opportunity to interview composer Ron Jones, whose music you might know from Family Guy and Star Trek: The Next Generation. He told me that what schools don’t teach you is “Friendship 101”: How you speak and relate to others, especially since filmmaking is a team effort. People skills are not taught in school but are the basis of a successful career.
What brought you to NYWIFT and how do you hope to engage with the organization?
I have been a board member of Women in Film and Video of New England since January 2022 and a member for five plus years. I am interested in having a career on the East Coast and joined NYWIFT for the community and amazing events it offers after attending an online mixer event with Ghetto Film School.
The Women in Film organization, with many chapters, has been an amazing way for me to meet many successful women in the industry and connect with other like-minded individuals. My career wouldn’t be where it is without the support from Women in Film and the networking possibilities. I am especially interested in ways to have our WIF chapters connect.
Now a fun question since we know you compose for video games as well – what have been some of your favorite games to play, especially during the pandemic when stuck inside?
I have been playing Pokémon Go throughout the pandemic, which gets you outside and walking around in order to find Pokémon. My favorite game is Animal Crossing, and I got Animal Crossing New Horizons during the pandemic. I could listen to the Animal Crossing score all day because it is so relaxing.
What is next for you?
I am set to work on several short films, a feature-length horror film, and a documentary. I recently accepted a position at Berklee College of Music as a Session Coordinator for the Screen Scoring department.
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