Pedro Bromfman scores on film

Pedro Bromfman
Pedro Bromfman scores on film.

Pedro Bromfman has crafted a career in film scoring that stretches from Rio de Janeiro, to Boston and Los Angeles. Here’s your chance to meet him.

By Sean Chaffin, Exclusive for

It’s Oscar time and Hollywood will recognize the best in film on February 9th. That includes music in film and Brazilian-American Pedro Bromfman has plenty of experience in that regard.

Bromfman turned a lifelong passion for music into a film scoring and composing career – and the sounds of Brazil remain a major influence.

Bromfman’s plays piano and just about every stringed instrument. His resumé includes films like Robocop (2014) and television series like Netflix’s Narcos and The Panama Papers for Epix. He also scored the films Elite Squad and Elite Squad II, the highest-grossing film in Brazil’s box office history.

Rio to Hollywood

Music was a huge part of Bromfman’s life growing up in Rio de Janeiro, but he moved to the U.S. 24 years ago to attend Boston’s Berklee College of Music. After graduating Cum Laude he headed to L.A., where the award-winning producer/composer got his start with commercials and trailers before branching out to film and television.

The 44-year-old’s composing process begins with viewing a film’s first cut. Television is fast paced, so he gets a rough edit and see what scenes need music.

“A lot of times I’m writing themes or coming up with first ideas while they’re still shooting,” he says. “Hopefully they hire me early enough where I can start creating the music and see if the producers like it, and narrowing it down from early on. If it’s an orchestral score, then we go and hopefully replace it with a real orchestra.”

Other projects can be more challenging.

A producer may call requesting a score in three weeks for a film being released in two months – with faster pace required to meet the demand. It may not always be easy but for Pedro Bromfman, it’s a continuation of a love of music that began in Rio years ago.

  • Streaming this week: ‘Cinema Sambas’ on The Sounds of Brazil! Click here.

Oscar Watching

While Pedro Bromfman hasn’t been nominated for an Oscar yet, his compositions have received nominations for two Cinema Brazil Grand Prizes. He believes the beauty of Brazilian music carries over well to film.

“Brazil has a tremendous musical history – brilliant songwriters, musicians, and even classical composers such as Ernesto Nazaré and Villa Lobos,” he says. “Specifically in film scoring, most Brazilian film directors and producers historically paid little attention to the original music created for their films.

“Their movies would have beautiful songs, many times composed for the film by major artists like Tom Jobim, Caetano Veloso, and Chico Buarque, but not enough thought was put into the underscore, the instrumental music that guides the film and brings the audience along for the ride. The music that although hidden brings you to tears in emotional moments or moves you to the edge of your seat in moments of tension.”

In the spirit of the Oscars and Brazilian cinema, we asked Pedro Bromfman to offer up his thoughts on a few classic Brazilian films and topics:

• Black Orpheus (1959) – ”This was probably the first film where the score and songs really came through and grabbed audiences around the world. The movie was directed by a French director and won the best foreign language Oscar. The music was composed by Jobim and Luiz Bonfá, two masters of Brazilian music.”

• Brazilian directors – “Walter Salles and Bruno Barreto seem to have paid great attention to their film scores. Bruno with Gabriela (1983) composed by Tom Jobim, Four Days in September (1997) by Stewart Copeland, Bossa Nova (2000) by Eumir Deodato and Walter, Central Station (1998) by Jaques Morelenbaum and Antonio Pinto, and Motorcycle Diaries (2004) by Gustavo Santaololla. Their films have played all over the world and attracted audiences to Brazilian cinema.”

Revival of Brazilian Film

In the 1990s, Brazilian cinema produced fewer films as audiences gravitated toward American movies. That changed in recent years with the “retomada,” the revival of Brazilian cinema with films like City of God (2002), scored by Antonio Pinto. That revival included the highly successful Elite Squad (2007) franchise, for which Bromfman composed the music.

“All these along with many other movies brought audiences back into the theaters to watch Brazilian films,” he says. “The new generation of filmmakers along with developments in technology have brought the technical quality of Brazilian film up to par and composers, trained specifically in film scoring, have certainly raised the bar in Brazilian film music.”

Bromfman still loves Brazilian music and his influences include Guinga, Hermeto Pascoal, Jobim, and Joao Cilberto. He even toured and recorded for a time with a Latin jazz band in Brazil and the U.S.

As for Pedro Bromfman’s own life in film, the land of samba and sun remains a major part influence and he’s still bringing a bit of Brazil to his work.

“I love Brazil,” he says. “It certainly influenced my life and my music growing up, and it comes out even when I do American films. I did the music for Robocop a few years ago and still had the bidi-bow processed and mixed with the orchestra. So I try to blend in things from my home country in the stuff I do even though it’s not full-on Brazilian samba or something like that – but I incorporate bits and pieces.

Our time with Pedro Bromfman ended on a typically ambitious note: “Although I primarily work in the U.S. market now, I’m very proud to have created scores for some very important films in Brazilian history and I’m happy when I get a chance to go back and score a Brazilian feature that really speaks to me.”