St. Thomas student brings his love for music and film together

Zach Greer and his brother spent their childhood dreaming up movie scenes together. Now, Greer spends his time scoring music for his brother’s film.

(Andrea Bárcenas/AQ)
(Andrea Bárcenas/AQ)

“I’ve always been really emotionally connected to the music in films. I would often find myself wanting to watch movies, but wanting to watch these specific things where these specific music cues would make me go, ‘Oh my god.’”

Greer and his brother, Jordan, are working together on a psychological-thriller titled Alice In The Attic. But before the third-year St. Thomas student realized his love for linking together music to pictures, he spent most of his time just watching films.

“When I was a kid my Dad introduced us to the Terminator movies. Arnold Schwarzenegger was a big part of my early movie experiences. My dad was a big fan of Arnold’s career.”

(Andrea Bárcenas/AQ)
(Andrea Bárcenas/AQ)

Greer attributes all of his love for films and music to his parents. Growing up they would have movie quoting competitions, keeping Greer on his toes.

“I quote movies like there’s no tomorrow. We always throw out quotes, random ones, and then if you don’t get it you’re shamed.”

Music didn’t come into the picture until he reached high school. At the end of grade 11 he began playing guitar and eventually learned to play piano.

“I started getting into it and realizing how much emotion I could put into playing even though I didn’t know how to play that well at the time, but realized how much I could really create a mood or a feeling.”

For Greer, music and movies go hand in hand. He understands that the music is what creates feelings in a film, and it’s not always obvious.

“Emotionally, you have to tap into the psychology of the character and the music kind of portrays all the things that develop within the characters and the plot itself,” said Greer. “If it’s really good they’ll just think that’s what’s supposed to happen, it makes sense. That’s what a film score is supposed to do. It makes sense.”

Greer is currently working on his interdisciplinary music major at St. Thomas while also working on Alice In The Attic. He says it’s a job with a whole new set of challenges, but working with his brother makes the process seem less like work.

“I don’t have any experiences other than scoring the movie I’m doing now. It’s a new experience working with my brother. He’s a filmmaker — he writes, directs, he does all of it. It’s interesting working with somebody and for somebody.”

Greer plans to live with his brother in Montréal working on more films together. He says he has some ideas up his sleeve that involve Atlantic Canada and draws inspiration from Canadian artists.

“I really like Alistair MacLeod. I took to his writing and I really liked his stories. I can see them being perfect for film projects and being made into movies, with wicked characters with lots of heart.”

When he’s not writing music, he’s thinking about it. Greer spends most of his time veering off into space and getting lost in an idea, either for the film or not.

(Andrea Bárcenas/AQ)
(Andrea Bárcenas/AQ)

“You get into it and its just cutting it close and you’re freaking out, but then once you get something, the main ingredient, everything starts unfolding. It’s a process of trial and error — really thinking. It’s a lot of sitting there, you’re on the bus even sitting, just thinking about work.”


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