I chatted with Danny Elfman about his new MasterClass, and his ventriloquist dummy "Buddy"

You may remember I recently blogged about Danny Elfman's new "music for film" MasterClass (which launched on Halloween, naturally). A day or so after it posted I got an email from someone on his team asking if I wanted to interview him. My response, "Uh, who could say no to that...?!" I soon found myself Skyping with the founder of Oingo Boingo, the father of the Simpsons' theme, and one of the most prolific film composers of all time — Happy Mutant extraordinaire, Mr. Danny Elfman.

Here's what we chatted about:

Rusty: Hi there, Danny. I'm thrilled to speak with you today.

Danny: Hello, thank you.

Rusty: I wanted to share a couple of things we have in common real quick before we get into it. One... we're both redheads.

Danny: I was just going to say that. That's got to be the first thing.

Rusty: Right? Well, it's obvious. Two... we both collect strange and unusual objects.

Danny: Ooh...

Rusty: Just saw an article about your strange and unusual collection and they shared a picture of you with your creepy ventriloquist dummy.

Danny: Buddy!

Rusty: Yeah, Buddy! Well, I wanted to tell you, you must know Archie McPhee...

Danny: Yeah.

Rusty: So, a couple of years ago, they made my likeness into a product. I'm a creepy ventriloquist dummy toy, a finger puppet.

Danny: Really...?!

Rusty: Yes.

Danny: Wow... Oh my god, that's so cool. What an honor. You should be honored.

Rusty: Oh I am.

Danny: Wow. Well, you have to go look at my nine episodes of "Danny and Buddy." Read the rest

Danny Elfman is teaching a MasterClass: "It's okay to fail"

Never have I wanted to learn about creating music for film more than before watching the trailer for Danny Elfman's new MasterClass ($90). In it, he talks about being "constantly insecure" despite having over 100 film scores under his belt. But quickly follows up with, "It's okay to fail." I mean, that's just solid advice for anyone pursuing creative activities. I appreciate that he goes beyond the "how-to" of composing a film score and goes into what it means to be a working artist -- being filled with doubts and insecurities and doing it anyway.

And I think all artists that are worth their anything are filled with doubt all the time. And the few that just don't have any doubt, I think they're destined become-- they could be very successful. They could be good workmen. They could be good craftsmen.

But they're not gonna be the really great artists. Because I think doubt and art are kind of combined. They're just-- it's almost impossible to pull them apart doubt.

Doubting yourself and then finding confidence and moving forward and then doubting what you've just done and then working through that, I think this is the life of a composer, and I think it's the life of an artist in general. And it's OK to feel that way.

The class is 21 online sessions, including one that's a Nightmare Before Christmas case study. The single class costs $90 or you can get an "all-access pass" for $15/month that allows you to watch other MasterClass classes (David Lynch, Penn & Teller, etc.). Read the rest