A family drama that was released this month features the first feature-length film score by a composer who is a native of Manalapan.
Craig Flaster, 32, composed the music for the 2021 film “The Girl Who Believes in Miracles.” The film tells the story of a young girl whose faith in God leads to miracles occurring around her.
Flaster, the son of Alan and Phyllis Flaster of Manalapan, is a 2007 graduate of Manalapan High School. In an interview this week, he cited his sister, Meredith Buchholtz, as his biggest influence.
“I was always entranced by her musical performances, from her time as Maria in ‘West Side Story’ and Mrs. Lovett in ‘Sweeney Todd’ at Manalapan High School.
“More than that, she was always a huge movie buff and I would listen to her soundtracks of movie and Broadway musicals. I have a vivid memory of listening to her cassette of John Williams’ score for ‘Return of the Jedi’ as a 4-year-old kid and I was hooked,” he said.
Flaster considered becoming a director or a screenwriter because he enjoyed all aspects of filmmaking, but said he connected the most with the musical aspect and taught himself compositions from the film soundtracks he listened to.
His first project was a score for the epic poem “Beowulf,” which he composed as an assignment in his junior English class.
“Pretty much since then, my goal has been to write music for movies,” he said.
Flaster graduated third in his class at Manalapan High School and went on to earn a music degree from Tufts University, magna cum laude.
He worked as a producer for MTV in New York before moving to Los Angeles to become a film composer.
Flaster suggested that individuals who are starting out in the entertainment industry should meet as many people as they can and be friendly, open with, and kind to everyone.
“I made some really good friends at a day job I was working in Los Angeles while I was trying to be a freelance composer and through that friends group, I was introduced to people working on ‘The Girl Who Believes in Miracles.’
“The director, Rich Correll, who is immensely talented and has had a pretty amazing career in television, was looking for a more old-fashioned score and apparently was having a hard time finding someone.
“(The people working on the film) asked me if I had any demos I could send in that style and that happens to be the type of music I love to write.
“Rich and I had a long conversation in which it became clear we were pretty simpatico regarding film music. After writing another demo, I got the gig,” he said.
Flaster explained that he grew up on scores with big themes and melodies, which is what Correll wanted for “The Girl Who Believes in Miracles.”
He came up with 10 themes from reading the script. After watching a rough cut of the film he eliminated some themes, developed new ones and modified others to fit the movie.
“Once I had these themes as a baseline, Rich and I worked together to figure out which scenes needed music and what the feeling of that music, namely the emotional centers of each scene, should be,” Flaster explained.
After determining which music to use and the scenes in which to use music, Flaster set to work scoring the individual scenes.
“All in all, I wrote a little over 60 minutes of music for the film, including pretty much wall-to-wall music for the film’s climactic last 25 minutes. I was lucky enough to record the score with talented orchestra musicians in Oklahoma and I can’t wait for people to hear the end result.
“It was an incredible and thrilling experience working on the film. I’m very proud of the score and excited for people to check out the movie.
“It’s a lovely, inspirational family film that is beautifully directed by Rich Correll and wonderfully acted by a cast that includes Oscar winner Mira Sorvino, Emmy Award winner Peter Coyote, and Kevin Sorbo, as well as the amazing young actress Austyn Johnson, who really anchors the film in the title role. It was an absolute joy to be involved in every respect,” he said.
“The Girl Who Believes in Miracles” had a premiere at the AMC Freehold 14 in Freehold Township and that was particularly significant to Flaster because he saw movies at that theater as he was growing up in the area.
“All of my best movie memories are from that theater, from the time it was a Loews when I was a really little kid.
“My parents, sister and a bunch of friends saw the movie there and while I was sad I could not fly home to watch it with them yet because of the pandemic, I was smiling from ear to ear and tearing up when I found out where they would be watching my movie.
“The thought of my score coming through the speakers at my hometown theater while my family and friends were seeing it is beyond words,” Flaster said.