Home is where the heart is: Film composer returns to call Dubuque his home base
This article was originally printed in the Telegraph Herald on Dec. 27, and was written by Anthony Frenzel.
Luke Flynn is the classic tale of a local boy gone big.
He left town, found success in Los Angeles, found love in Japan and has worked on the music for films like “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” and, most recently, “Holmes & Watson,” starring Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly. He also edits scores for TV shows like “Family Guy,” “American Dad” and “The Orville.”
It might seem a little strange, then, that his latest endeavor isn’t to break through into a new industry, score a record-breaking box office movie or edit the latest sitcom hit.
It’s to move back home to Dubuque.
“It just seemed like the time, especially with a 2-year-old,” Flynn said in an interview after recently returning to town. “There are so many reasons that just kind of all added up on top of each other. LA is an awesome place. The first couple years were really fun, especially when you’re younger, single or a couple without a child.”
But as he and wife Risa began their family — their daughter’s name is Serena — and Flynn’s career continued to develop, it seemed like the time had come to find more family friendly environs.
“(LA is) a very difficult place to raise a toddler,” he said. “Dubuque’s No. 1 pride is community. And we have all the family here.”
And, it wasn’t the first time that his home city had been on his mind.
“I secretly wanted to come back here for a really long time,” Flynn said, laughing. “But it couldn’t happen until the career was sort of set, so to speak. The same for my wife, as well.”
Coming back to Dubuque won’t mean the end of his career, though. The team he works with in LA, JoAnn Kane Music Service, is easily accessible remotely, and he hopes that moving to the Midwest will open up some more opportunities for composition work.
“My career is kind of double: The editing and then I do my own composing, as well,” Flynn said. “The editing thing is basically full time because there’s a lot of work. The deadlines are intense.”
Between Slack — cloud-based team collaboration chat service — and video conferencing via Skype, he will be in touch easily with the JoAnn Kane teams in LA and New York.
What will make that particularly easy is that, once he and his wife settle on a house and move in, he intends to build a home studio.
“In fact, it almost is less hectic for me here,” Flynn said. “Being in LA, if I have to go get groceries, I have to drive in the car for 45 minutes. Time there is so limited. For example, when I did ‘Holmes & Watson,’ I think I had a week to write all the music. So, on top of it being hard to find time, you have deadlines. I think something like that would be a little bit less stressful here.”
Though he’s done lots of work scoring independent films — “really good films that did very well at film festivals with great directors” — “Holmes & Watson” is his first A-list scoring credit. It’s an opportunity that came out of networking and friendships he’s built living in LA since 2015.
“A lot of people in LA have rock ’n’ roll backgrounds,” Flynn said. “Not everyone in LA is classically trained in doing film scores. In (the ‘Holmes & Watson’) situation, they were thinking, ‘Who can we find that we know who can do this guaranteed?’ Because there’s no audition.
“I received footage on Friday. And they said, ‘By the way, it’s not locked film. That will probably come Sunday or Monday.’ And we did. And I scored it throughout the week.”
It also opened the door for the return to Dubuque and — he’s hoping — further composing opportunities.
“Everyone in LA has the mindset where everything you do leads to something else,” he said. “The one thing about living there is that you make these great personal relationships and friendships with people. Eventually, those blossom into something else, too.”
Another such project was his work scoring the promo trailer for a new tabletop game, Alliance The Card Game. The game, which released recently, is the work of Cole Kornell, an indie film director Flynn had worked with in the past.
And, now that he’s back in town, he looks forward to getting involved with the music community here. He also hopes to explore media opportunities that might not be available in a huge city like Los Angeles, such as radio or TV news.
He also hopes to share a little bit of the knowledge he’s brought back from the front lines of the Hollywood music world.
“When I was here at college in Dubuque, a lot of people — especially at Clarke University — took me under their wing,” Flynn said. “I was given a lot of guidance, a lot of great mentorship, a lot of pointing in the right direction. As an artist, it is impossible to succeed without the help of other people. In some way shape or form, it’s necessary.
“There are questions, though, I had no idea until I was there and thrown into it to even ask them. I look forward greatly to meeting with younger people and answering those sorts of questions.”