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Film Independent Mon 6.24.2024

My First Movie: Debut Feature Film Composer Randall Taylor Cuts Through the Red Tape

In this series of special guest posts, we’re asking first-time filmmakers of every discipline (writers, producer, directors, whatever) to share what they’ve learned from their debut outings in feature work. This month: musician Randall Taylor on creating his first feature-length film score, for horror film Delicate Arch, premiering Friday, June 28 at Dances With Films in Los Angeles.


I play with cassette tapes on the internet. If that sounds weird, it’s because it is. For the last 10 years, I’ve been making tape loop and guitar pedal based music under the name AMULETS, showcasing my sonic shenanigans through top-down POV videos on YouTube and Instagram.

I’ve released numerous albums, toured the country opening for several famous bands and built a following for my weirdo tape experiments. But even with all that, I still had not done something I had dreamed of for a long time: scoring a feature-length film. But that finally changed when I received an email from Matt Warren.

I receive a lot of messages about my musical creations and often have to cull through what’s a serious offer and what’s just annoying spam. Matt’s email was immediately professional and personal, starting with flattery over my work and shared interest in decaying analog media, then diving into his work with Film Independent and his passion for filmmaking. He told me about his intentions to make a feature length film called Delicate Arch, and asked if I had any interest in licensing some music or (better yet!) creating an original score. I was overjoyed, this was the opportunity I had been waiting for! I immediately hopped on a call with Matt and began discussing how I could incorporate my musical stylings with his cinematic vision.

Matt described how Delicate Arch would be shot through various analog mediums, which immediately got my gears turning on how I could compliment my magnetic tape sounds with his analog video sequences. For me, tapes (specifically cassettes) are a huge component of my art and music. I love the imperfections of tape and really lean into the noise, flutter and unpredictability of tape loops degrading and wearing over time.

For the initial inspiration, Matt referenced the 2001 Trent Harris film The Beaver Trilogy as inspiration. I immediately began making five-second recordings of clips of the film, found on YouTube, to cassette tape loops. I then started warping them by slowing them down and running through numerous guitar effect pedals. This was my process for the entire soundtrack, recording various musical (and non musical) clips to tape loops, then making them unrecognizable to the original source. Matt referred to it as making things more “Amulets-y”, which I took as a real compliment to my process and approach.

Before Arch even started filming, I had amassed a collection of music and sounds that would help inspire some of his project’s future editing room decisions. My weirdo tape loops were even played live on set to get the cast and crew in the mood before takes.

I had worked on smaller short films before, so I thought a feature length was going to be daunting, but it was quite the opposite. The filmmakers made my job and others very easy, and although this was my first feature-length score it didn’t feel like it. The film gave me a lot of creative freedom, trust and space to let me spread my DIY wings.

Having established myself in one area of music and then having people see you and trust you to apply your skills to a soundtrack is really very huge. Not everyone can make that kind of pivot or is even given the chance to, which is what made Delicate Arch so special to work on and so special for me personally.

About the author: AMULETS is the solo project of Portland, Oregon-based audio and visual artist Randall Taylor. Taylor employs handmade cassette tape loops and live processed guitar loops to create live, lush soundscapes and immersive drones. Through the recontextualisation of cassettes, sampling, field recording, and looping, these long-form compositions blur the genres of ambient, drone, noise, and electronic music.

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