A film scored by Northeastern alumnus Harold Shawn was recently featured at the Roxbury International Film Festival, the largest festival in New England that celebrates people of color. This year in a digital format, the festival, which ran from September 30 – October 5, gives voice to diverse cultures, both local and worldwide. The short film that Harold, who graduated from Northeastern with a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Music, worked on is entitled Blight. Directed by Brittany Clemons (trailer here), it stars a grieving young girl with supernatural abilities who seeks vengeance after the racially charged officer-involved shooting of her teenage brother – exploring police brutality and environmental racism through a science fiction lens.
When Brittany first reached out to Harold to share the script for Blight, he immediately started thinking of ideas for the music.
“I fell in love with the script right away, and began writing down some themes and starting to get a feeling for what, sonically, the score could be,” Harold said.
The plot of Blight is rich and meaningful, touching upon several relevant topics and posing some interesting moral questions.
“As a Black male and given the current times we’re living in, the script jumped out to me as an interesting way to talk about current events. It also features a young woman’s story, and women’s perspectives are rarely in the spotlight enough. The music is intended to support this female lead’s actions and ideas, and to help tap into the incredible emotion that was being acted on screen,” Harold added.
The music works to add color and depth, balancing both classical and modern elements.
The process of creating the score came down to reading the script, which was mostly complete at that point, being inspired by it musically, then developing the ideas and themes. It required a lot of close collaborations with Brittany (film director), and an open, two-way dialogue about what each scene should be like.
“The goal was to create a union between the music and film” Harold concluded. “It was a lot of fun working on such a collaborative project, and all of the director’s changes made the music itself better too. The scenes ended up all having different textures, but tied back into the overarching musical theme.”
Harold, whose pseudonym is “Levelsoundz,” is a film composer, music producer, and songwriter. After college, Harold spent five years as the Program Director for the Hiphop Archive & Research Institute (HARI), while continuing to produce tracks for emerging Hip-Hop, R&B, and Pop recording artists. He is now based in California, running Levelsoundz Productions, which provides services in the areas of music composition, production, engineering, songwriting, scoring, filming, video editing, and more. He is currently working with LevyGrey – a New York-based artist, producer, and writer – on his EP coming out in the next few months.