FIT Adjunct Cal Freundlich Makes Good Music!

Music has always played an important role in film, starting with silent movies accompanied by pianos played in theaters. Interesting plot twist: FIT has been making a bit of noise lately when it comes to this.

Cal Freundlich, who teaches CG-452 (Music Production for Interactive and Animation Thesis), scored “Found,” a documentary directed by Shuhao Tse. “Found” won the gold medal in the documentary category at the Student Academy Awards. A few months earlier it also won the Student BAFTA Best Documentary and Grand Jury Prize.

Cal Freundlich having been awarded the gold student academy award, 2022

The film is about a child stolen at age three. A dozen years later, police find him, but that joy was trapped by a new reality – the child’s existing family relations.

Catch excerpts from Freundlich’s soundtrack for “Found” here on SoundCloud.

“Shuhao, (a fellow NYU alum) did a beautiful job of telling an unbelievably delicate and emotional story, and I feel lucky to have been a part of it,” said Freundlich.

Freundlich’s two-semester course is centered around a collaboration with NYU students from the Steinhardt Screen Scoring Program (of which Freundlich is an alumnus).

“We are focusing on how to dissect, analyze, and most importantly communicate about music as creators, not as musicians,” says Freudlich. The idea is to give FIT thesis students the tools for a successful and nuanced collaboration with their composers in the second half of the year.

Freundlich says the aim of his score was “to reflect the fragility of such a high-stakes family story, as well as allow the audience to delve deeper into the emotion of both the parents and the child. Because the story is so emotionally charged, we really wanted the score to give the film’s heaviest moments just the lightest push, while also allowing audiences to decide how they feel for themselves.”

Cal Freundlich at the student academy awards

At FIT, “a fair amount of class time is dedicated to dissecting music and how it interacts with pictures. We’ve spoken in class about how to choose what moments need music, as well as how to map out a scene musically based on the emotional beats within it,” said Freundlich.

For one assignment, FIT students worked in groups to “temp” (add pre-existing music to a scene without music) several different scenes. “Each scene had at least two groups assigned to it, but each group was assigned a different musical genre,” said Freundlich.

The purpose was to demonstrate the power of music in film, animation and other media, and how drastically the music choices can impact the interpretation of a scene.

Freundlich completed the winning documentary’s score when he was a student last April, during the final year of completing his master’s program at NYU.

To see more of Cal Freundlich’s work, visit his website: CalFreudlichMusic and on IG: @cal_freundlich.

To learn more about animation at FIT go to: Animation, Interactive Media, & Game Design.