Fabrizio Mancinelli has composed memorable original scores for countless films throughout his career, including features Coyote Lake, The Snow Queen 4: Mirrorlands, and documentary Growing Up with Nine Old Men. And yet, there is a sense that the Italian-American composer is just getting started.

Mancinelli’s peers within the Society of Composers and Lyricists would certainly agree with that sentiment, as evidenced by his 2 nominations in the organization’s annual awards. First was for The David Raksin Award for Emerging Talent at this year’s SCL Awards, in recognition of his work on The Land of Dreams. He wrote and scored 10 original songs for the Italian musical, which follows a young immigrant woman as she pursues her dream of becoming a singer in 1920s New York.

Mancinelli was also nominated for Outstanding Original Score For An Independent Film for his work on the short animation Mushka. The latter film saw Mancinelli working with with legendary songwriter and composer Richard M. Sherman, a collaboration that spanned nearly a decade, evolving alongside Mancinelli’s own style and taste.

Mancinelli spoke with Awards Focus about his experiences on both films, providing insight on what they have in common, and shouting out several of his talented collaborators.

Awards Focus: Congratulations on the SCL nominations for Mushka and The Land of Dreams! How does it feel to be double nominated for the two projects?

Fabrizio Mancinelli: Thank you so much. The news of the double nominations hit me just as I was about to take the podium to conduct for my friend and colleague Kris Bowers. It took a few hours for the reality to sink in. I felt a mix of humility, gratitude, and a bit of surprise, all while recognizing the immense honor of being in the company of idols and esteemed colleagues, some of whom I’m fortunate enough to call friends.

AF: How were you approached for Mushka and The Land of Dreams?

Mancinelli: In the case of “Mushka,” my deep passion for hand-drawn animation and admiration for Andreas Deja, one of my idols, led to a genuine friendship after I moved to LA. When Andreas was in the process of selecting a composer for his film, the announcement was made during one of his renowned Christmas parties. It was a moment that left me almost breathless (laughs).

For “The Land of Dreams,” my collaboration with Nicola Abbatangelo on his short musical film “Beauty” paved the way for our work on the feature. Our creative chemistry and shared vision made the collaboration seamless, emphasizing the importance of finding kindred spirits in the artistic process.

AF: What were the inspirations for the score?

Mancinelli: The primary inspiration for both scores was the unique essence of each project. I believe that every film deserves a distinct and tailored musical identity.  In “Mushka,” I drew from my European influences, exploring symphonic writing and incorporating a theme by the legendary Richard M. Sherman. 

In “The Land of Dreams,” I delved into swing-oriented elements while crafting a symphonic yet modern score infused with fantasy elements, developing themes from my own songs.

AF: Can you compare what the two projects share in common?

Mancinelli: Both “Mushka” and “The Land of Dreams” are dream projects for me – one is an old-flavored Disney-esque hand-drawn masterpiece, and the other a full-length musical feature. 

Beyond their artistic merit, both projects hold personal significance, symbolizing the realization of my career aspirations. Additionally, they both incorporate a full orchestral score, recorded in Vienna for “Mushka” and in Budapest for “The Land of Dreams,” offering a diverse range of musical colors.

AF: What were some of the challenges you faced on these projects?

Mancinelli: “The Land of Dreams” proved to be one of the most demanding projects due to its comprehensive scope, involving the composition of music and lyrics for ten songs, as well as the full score and source music. Compounded by the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, remote recording and mixing became a necessity, requiring a monumental effort from myself and my dedicated team.

For “Mushka,” the challenge lay in crafting a score that harmoniously complemented the legendary Richard M. Sherman’s original theme, and seamlessly integrate this one with my own thematic materials. Additionally, the project spanned a decade, necessitating revisits to certain cues as my musical style and taste evolved over time.

AF: Are there any key collaborators you would like to shout out who were instrumental to the success of each of these projects?

Mancinelli: While I’m grateful for my entire team of friends and collaborators, a few individuals deserve special mention. Luca Antonini, my right-hand and brilliant music programmer (and the one who, after listening to my latest piece gives me his most honest opinion, making me either the happiest or the most miserable composer in the World), Marco Valerio Antonini, who orchestrated brilliantly on both projects (on The Land of Dreams together with Jonathan Keith), and mixing engineers Jorge Velasco and Piernicola Di Muro played crucial roles on these projects. 

And, last but certainly not least, I want to express my immense gratitude to the soul of “Mushka”: the extraordinary vocalist Holly Sedillos. Holly’s impressive and extensive credit list speaks volumes about her talent and versatility. Her contribution to “Mushka” is nothing short of indispensable, and the film would not be the same  without her heartfelt and beautiful vocal performance.

AF: What do you hope audiences take away from the two projects? 

Mancinelli: Both projects aim to provide a simple yet captivating escape from reality, offering audiences an opportunity for relaxation and entertainment. The key lies in the simplicity of the stories told, it’s a chance for viewers to sit back, unwind, and experience the joy of shared narratives. Ultimately, I hope audiences leave the screening room with a fulfilling feel-good sensation.

AF: Can you share what’s next for you?

Mancinelli: Thank you for asking, I’m currently completing a beautiful drama/thriller, with recording scheduled for the upcoming week – more details to be revealed soon. Simultaneously, I am finalizing the last of four animated specials for “Aquateam – Sea Adventures,” focusing on ocean pollution. 

Additionally, I look forward to the release of the animated feature “Out of the Nest” slated for this year.  As for what lies beyond, let’s hope life continues to surprise me!

Additional resources for Fabrizio Mancinelli can be found at his website.