Conversation with Alan Silvestri


Alan Silvestri discussing his work as a film composer at the Lucas Theatre for the Arts. Photo by Madison Watkins.

SCAD Savannah Film Festival

Madison Watkins, Editor-in-Chief

The DeLorean going back to the future. The feather falling over the Savannah landscape in “Forrest Gump.” The Polar Express arriving at the North Pole. Superheroes arriving through portals just in time to help Captain America defeat Thanos. 

All of these famous moments in film have one thing in common- composer Alan Silvestri. 

Silvestri was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award in Composing at the Lucas Theatre for the Arts on Oct. 27 as part of the annual SCAD Savannah Film Festival.

After receiving his award, he thanked SCAD for the award, Savannah for hosting the festival, the audience in attendance and then his wife after getting emotional. He said without her there wouldn’t be anything in his life worth achieving. 

After the presentation, Rotten Tomatoes critic Jacqueline Coley took the stage as hostess for the following conversation with Silvestri to reflect on some of his most famous work. 

They discussed his work on the “Back To The Future” trilogy, the James Cameron film “Into The Abyss,” his Oscar-nominated work in “Forrest Gump,” “Ready Player One” and his work in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. 

Alan Silvestri discussing his work as a film composer at the Lucas Theatre for the Arts. Photo by Madison Watkins.

Zemeckis proved himself to be a funny and engaging storyteller when discussing his work processes on these films.

Before discussing his work, a montage from each film was shown with some of the most famous pieces of music from those films. 

“We[director Robert Zemeckis and Silvestri] had no idea that the world would embrace it the way it did,” Silvestri said on the “Back To The Future” films. 

When they discussed the Oscar-winning film “Forrest Gump,” another film he worked on with director Robert Zemeckis, Silvestri referred to it as a “superhero movie.”

“This is the American dream right here… This is a lovely pure soul with great optimism that wakes up every day, faces the task at hand, does what he has to do, and just looks forward to the next day.”

Coley asked Silvestri about how he came up with the moving music for the famous scene of Forrest running as his braces came off and Silvestri said that scene was very close to him because he and his wife had a child with a chronic illness. 

“The movie is filled with the overcoming of a personal challenge.” 

When they discussed his work with director Steven Spielberg on “Ready Player One,” Silvestri told a compelling story about the famous film composer John Williams coming in to visit during one of his scoring sessions. Silvestri said Williams had a wonderful time while he was there and that he hadn’t sat in on anyone else’s scoring sessions in 35 years.

The last films they discussed were his work with Marvel, particularly “Avengers,” “Avengers: Infinity War” and “Avengers: Endgame.”

When Coley mentioned that these films would be discussed next, there were excited gasps in the audience. The energy in the room was electric as the montage showed famous scenes and themes from the films. It’s safe to say this montage received the most applause and cheers after it was over. 

Silvestri said as he was working on “Endgame” with the film’s directors, the music had to be a “unifying event” since there were so many characters in the film and they couldn’t fit in all of their themes. 

“We looked at it from the point of view of all of the Avengers.”

Coley asked if he would work with Marvel again and Silvestri replied, “I have no idea.” Then Coley asked the audience if the audience would like to see Silvestri work on future Avengers films and was met with loud applause and cheers. 

Look on our website and next week’s paper for more coverage on the SCAD Savannah Film Festival.