March 20 2013 03:39 PM

Joel P West wrote the score for an award-winning film

Joel West, The Tree Ring, Destin Daniel Cretton, SXSW, Short Term 12
Photo by Joy Cretton

The filmmaker behind I Am Not a Hipster got big props at South by Southwest's film festival last week, winning the Grand Jury Prize for best narrative feature for a new film he directed, Short Term 12. The film also won the Audience Award (based on audiences' post-screening ballots) in the same category.

The film's director, Destin Daniel Cretton, isn't the only one basking in the glory: Short Term 12 features two tracks by beatmaker Keith Sweaty, and the score was written by Joel P West of The Tree Ring. West, who also did the music for I Am Not a Hipster, seems blown away by the positive reception.

"It's pretty amazing because it sort of just lets distributors know that both critics and audiences liked it," he says. "It's a really, really great thing."

The film stars Brie Larson as a young supervisor at a foster-care group home. West says he developed a quiet, fragile tone for the score, reflecting the film's complex range of emotions.

"There's a lot of times in the movie where it feels real, and it's very true to what these facilities for foster-care kids look like. A lot of times it's just really hard to know what to feel, and that's true in the movie," he says. "A lot of times, also, there's very sudden changes in emotion, just because there's these magical moments with these kids, and there's sort of a living darkness to what their situations are and what kind of challenges they have."

West says the producers are looking to find a distributor for the film. Meanwhile, he's interested in working on another film.

Email or follow him on Twitter at @peterholslin.


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