Composer Mark McKenzie has been presented with the International Film Music Critics Association Award for Best Original Score for an Animated Film by IFMCA members Jon Broxton and Kaya Savas, for his work on the film Max and Me. This is McKenzie’s first win; he was also nominated for Score of the Year, and was previously nominated for the same two awards in 2011 for The Greatest Miracle.
The other nominees in the Animation category were Michael Giacchino for Incredibles 2, Alexandre Desplat for Isle of Dogs, Daniel Pemberton for Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, and Federico Jusid for Watership Down.
McKenzie was born in Lake City, Minnesota in 1957. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, and received his Masters and Doctorate in music composition from the USC Thornton School of Music in Los Angeles where he studied with, among others, Pierre Boulez, Morten Lauridsen and Witold Lutoslawski. During his formal training at USC, Mark was recognized with numerous awards such as the Hans J. Salter Award, The Norman Cousins Award and the USC Outstanding Doctoral Music Graduate Award.
McKenzie is best known in film music circles as an orchestrator. Since his first experience, working for composer Bruce Broughton on Young Sherlock Holmes in 1985, McKenzie has assisted some of Hollywood’s greatest composers on some of their most successful works, including Batman Returns (1992), The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993), Mission: Impossible (1996), Men in Black (1997), Good Will Hunting (1997), Sleepy Hollow (1999), Spider-Man (2002) and Spider-Man 2 (2004) for Danny Elfman, Mr. and Mrs Smith (2005) for John Powell, The Mummy Returns (2001) for Alan Silvestri, The Patriot (2000) for John Williams, A Few Good Men (1992) for Marc Shaiman, Dances With Wolves (1990) for John Barry, and The Last Castle (2001) for Jerry Goldsmith.
However, McKenzie’s original music is equally well-respected, containing a lush symphonic style. He composed and arranged the opening and closing theme music to the longest running and most honored television serial in history, the ” Hallmark Hall of Fame” movie series, and original scores which include titles such as Frank and Jesse (1994), Dr. Jekyll and Ms. Hyde (1995), The Disappearance of Garcia Lorca (1997), Durango (1999), Blizzard (2003), The Ultimate Gift (2007), Saving Sarah Cain (2007), The Greatest Miracle (2011), and several sequels in the series of Dragonheart action-fantasy films.
Max and Me is McKenzie’s second score for Dos Corazones Films. It tells the story of Maximilian Kolbe, a Polish Franciscan friar who, during World War II, was imprisoned at the Auschwitz concentration camp by the Nazis and became its de-facto priest. He became renowned for his kindness and, later, his bravery, when he volunteered to die in place of another prisoner who had been unjustly sentenced to be executed. Kolbe was canonized and made a saint by Pope John Paul II in 1982, and remains one of the most respected and admired Polish religious figures of modern times. In terms of this film, Kolbe’s life provides the contemporary frame of reference for the overarching story of an old man trying to help a young, rebellious teenager through some difficult life choices. IFMCA member James Southall described the score as “outrageously beautiful, uplifting, inspiring music dripping with passion and emotion,” and IFMCA member Christian Clemmensen said that “McKenzie continues to offer lovely music with heartwarmingly tonal themes, conveying lyricism and hope all too rare in contemporary film music”.
See below for the acceptance speech and video interview conducted by Broxton and Savas:
Click on the thumbnails for larger photo images: