John Ottman Biography, Age, Awards, Career And Movies.

John Ottman Biography

John Ottman is an American film composer and editor. Ottoman had a ‘mission’ to produce original music for the computer game I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream.

John Ottoman appeared in the 2007 documentary Finding Kraftland for his agent Richard Kraft. He is famously known for his collaborations with Bryan Singer (film director), acting as editor and composer for his films The Usual Suspects, Apt Pupil, X2, Superman Returns, Valkyrie, Jack the Giant Slayer and X-Men: Days of Future Past. Other films he worked on as a composer are Snow White: A Tale of Terror (2005 remake of House of Wax), Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Fantastic Four and its sequel Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, The Invasion, and Astro Boy.

He has exercised his directorship on Urban Legends: Final Cut which was the 2000 horror movie. His works earned him the BAFTA Award for Best Editing for The Usual Suspects, as well as two Saturn Awards for Best Music for The Usual Suspects and Superman Returns. He was also nominated for a BAFTA and Academy Award for Best Film Editing for his works on Bohemian Rhapsody.

John Ottman Age

John Ottoman was born on July 6, 1964. He is aged 54 years as of 2018.

John Ottoman Education

Ottoman attended the School of Cinematic Arts of the University of Southern California and graduated in 1988.

John Ottman Songs

  • Reprise/Fly Away
    John Ottman
  • Memories
    John Ottman
  • How Could You Leave Us
    John Ottman
  • Seventeen
    John Ottman
  • Main Title
    John Ottman
  • Farewell Michael
    John Ottman
  • Welcome to Berlin feat. Alexander Rudd
    John Ottman / Alexander Rudd
  • We Are Killers/The Bomb feat. Alexander Rudd
    John Ottman / Alexander Rudd
  • They’re Watching/Meeting Jeurgen feat. Alexander Rudd
    John Ottman / Alexander Rudd
  • Securing the File feat. Alexander Rudd
    John Ottman / Alexander Rudd
  • Old Friend/Truth Be Told feat. Alexander Rudd
    John Ottman / Alexander Rudd
  • Nice to Meet You feat. Alexander Rudd
    John Ottman / Alexander Rudd
  • Martin Vs. Martin feat. Alexander Rudd
    John Ottman / Alexander Rudd
  • Man Alone feat. Alexander Rudd
    John Ottman / Alexander Rudd
  • The Hospital feat. Alexander Rudd
    John Ottman / Alexander Rudd
  • Gina’s Story feat. Alexander Rudd
    John Ottman / Alexander Rudd
  • Fond Memories/Epiphany feat. Alexander Rudd
    John Ottman / Alexander Rudd
  • Following Mrs. Harris feat. Alexander Rudd
    John Ottman / Alexander Rudd
  • Evil Car feat. Alexander Rudd
    John Ottman / Alexander Rudd

John Ottman Career

Speaking of his career, Ottoman is active in the field of entertainment from way back in 1993. At 1st, he started out as a composer in the film Public Access directed by his longtime friend Bryan Singer. He has appeared in in films like The Usual Suspects, Night Train, and The Antelope Chess Game in 1995.

His works earned him winnings: BAFTA Award for Best Editing for The Usual Suspects. He has appeared in videos like I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream in 1995. He became the top 50 in capturing the attention of people in 1997.

In the year 2000 Ottman debuted as a director and composer in the film Urban Legends: Final Cut. He has also portrayed as an actor in one episode of television series Dark Dreamer. He became he became the co-producer of X-Men (2015): Apocalypse which is directed by his friend Bryan Singer. He has also won two Saturn Awards for Best Music for The Usual Suspects and Superman Returns.

John Ottman Photos | John Ottman Images | John Ottman Pictures

John Ottman

John Ottman Movies | John Ottman Films

X-Men: Days of Future Past: John Ottman on Editing Blink’s Powers

X-Men: Days of Future Past is John Ottman’s second X-Men movie. He’s usually Bryan Singer’s composer and editor on every film, but the first X-Men was the one time Ottman was unavailable, directing his own movie Urban Legends: Final Cut.

With Singer, Ottman was on board even before The Usual Suspects, on Singer’s first movie Public Access. Without Singer, he’s scored other interesting films like Halloween: H20, Cellular and four films of Jaume Collet-Serra. We got to speak with Ottman by phone this week about his job balancing several character themes and editing parallel action in X-Men: Days of Future Past, and some secrets of lesser-known films like The Invasion and Bubble Boy.

Crave Online: It looks like you only edit for Bryan Singer or yourself. Why have you not pursued editing with other filmmakers?

John Ottman: Because I hate it. [Laughs] It’s a long time commitment and it takes me away from my scoring career. When I go to what I call “editing jail” for a year or two, there are so many movies I lose the opportunity to score. That’s the main reason. It’s a huge time commitment.
Do you really not care about the process of editing?

Well, I mean, it has its joys. It has its moments because I actually have a hand in creating a movie. That part, I like. Sometimes I miss that after being on a roll scoring some films and I miss being in control of something and being in charge of creating a film, but after a couple months of it usually, it’s like I’d rather go score a movie now. It’s a lot of pressure because editing a film is not just sitting at a computer manipulating the images. It’s storyboarding sequences. It’s meeting the pre-vis artists and designing the scenes. It’s running down to the set and getting shots shot that you need. It’s just a whole gamut of managerial things you have to do and it’s pretty overwhelming.

I always enjoyed the process of editing so I guess I’m surprised to hear.

It’s very tedious. So is writing music of course too. I guess it’s because it’s so much unrelenting pressure on the size of films that we do, and I’m just missing a lot of scoring work. Then again, as I say, I do enjoy having a hand in helping create a film.
That’s probably why I ended up a journalist because I can write a lot more stories in the time it would take to edit a film. I find production work tedious. Being on set waiting for shots, that’s tedious.

Oh, it’s the worst. It’s the most boring place on earth.
Musically, did you inherit the X-Men theme, since X-Men was the one Bryan Singer movie you didn’t work on?

Well, it sort of was a very subtle nod to the Michael Kamen theme from X-Men 1 but I really always felt that theme was very incomplete and didn’t go anywhere. It needed like a second half to it so I just took it as inspiration and wrote my theme for X-Men.

Did you not do the second half when you did X2?

I did do the second half.

So X2 is when you felt you completed that score?

X2 is when I wrote a new theme, sort of inspired by his, but it was more complete. It had a beginning, middle, and end to it.

Is that at all the same as in Superman Returns where you inherited the John Williams theme, or even Halloween: H20 where you inherited the John Carpenter theme?

Those I pretty much redid literally. There’s no need to improve upon the John Williams theme for Superman. That I sprinkled throughout the score that I wrote, and then the theme itself, of course, was already established and used that literally. The John Carpenter theme I just made into a big giant orchestral version of his electronic theme which was a lot of fun to do, and I did actually add a second movement to his theme which was Laurie Strode’s theme in the movie.

So if we want the most Halloween music ever, we should get the score to H20.


Was editing the prologue that leads into the title sequence of Days of Future Past a particular challenge?

I guess the only challenge would be the visualization of the title sequence was done at the last minute, and so it was a challenge in terms of basically scoring that and editing the score that had been written all ready to fit into the new visuals. That was really the only difficult thing I guess.

Did all of the teleporting give you difficulties to edit, making sure everyone ended up where they were going?

Yeah, I first had to get my head around it and understand it at first, what Blink’s power really was and the pseudo-logic of her teleportation. Once that logic was established in my head, it wasn’t that difficult to plug in wherever I needed to. Sometimes people think that these visual effects make things so complicated and they do in one way, but in another, it’s really just basically as long as you can imagine and have a placeholder visually, it’s not a big deal. You see actors basically jumping by each other and it looks a bit crazy, but you know there’s going to be a big ring there that they’re jumping through.

Do you still have to maintain a certain screen direction? Does it change the rules of screen direction?

Absolutely. You constantly have to keep that in mind when you’re working with visual effects that you can’t see because it can be very disorienting if you’re not constantly thinking about what that effect is going to look like and, obviously, keeping the eyeliner correct and so forth.

Does Mystique have her own theme in Days of Future Past?

Yes, she does. It’s sort of very subtle because it sort of comes up when she’s being talked about as opposed to being directly on the screen. There’s one scene in particular where young Xavier and Erik are in a plane talking about her and I think that’s the inception of her theme in the movie. Then it’s just peppered here and there. Not too often actually. It’s not as often as I would like it to have been but I can’t redesign a movie to stick in a theme more often.

When she attacks, is the fight music not specific to Mystique?

Not really. Actually, I wove in some whale drums which had been used in X-Men 2 for some fight music. I think there was one scene with Mystique where I used it, but it was subtle. It was really hard to be thematic in a fight scene, especially the way that one was. Actually, I’m thinking about it now, her theme is peppered in there. Just before the fight scene when the general walks in, which is really her, it’s hinted upon. Then when she runs off with the people that she saves in the tent, it’s her theme again but played in brass. It’s a sort of militaristic.

Do each of the characters have their own theme?

No, that would be crazy. You just have to make a decision based on what the story is really about. Otherwise, if every character had a theme, it would actually confuse the story as opposed to clarifying the story. I think when you pick just the key characters who represent the story of the movie, then you can actually clarify the story and make it more cohesive. Aside from the main X-Men theme, there are three films in the film. One is Charles Xavier’s because the movie’s really all about his having lost the hope that he’s known for and rekindling the hope. One is the Raven theme we just talked about and then the third is Magneto’s which is very simple, practically a two-note motif that I just want people to absorb so they can identify with him quickly.

So there’s not a Wolverine theme?

There was in X2 but it’s very, very, very briefly iterated in one moment in the movie, which that particular cue is not on the album. Other than that, no. There was just no room for it. It’s funny, you would think there would be because he’s such a central character in the movie but as a composer, I just had to look on the screen and look at the sequence and see if it actually makes any sense to even have a theme for him.

When I saw the movie you directed, Urban Legends: Final Cut, I really related to it having just come out of film school at the time.


Was it based on a lot of your experience at film school?

Well, sure. Some of the nods to some of the professors were inspired by a couple of professors that we’d known, the writer and I, at SC and so forth. Sure, a lot of that came from our experiences fresh out of film school. Not fresh out but we’d been out just a few years I guess.

Was that a good experience? Have you tried to direct again?

It was a great experience and I had a real crossroads after that film. It was number one, believe it or not, at the box office and I was offered countless teen movies. I just, either stupidly or wisely, said I don’t want to direct teen films. So I went back into film scoring thinking the film scoring community had written me off and that really bothered me, so I went back. Who knows if that was the right decision to have made? Maybe I would’ve been directing anything I want to now or maybe the next film I did would’ve been a complete failure. Who knows?

I would love to direct something again. The problem is just that if it was just a decision of jumping into something to direct, I would do it but directing takes development time. I would spend a year developing something to get it made, and then Bryan has a film with a big dangling carrot. “Hey, you want to write a big score to a big, giant movie?” I sort of leave my goal to go direct something again. I just have to learn to say no at some point so I can pursue something. I really want to just do it for the fun of it and just find a smaller film to do, just to get me out of the room.

Was the editing of The Usual Suspects important to maintain the mystery and not give things away too early?

Absolutely. That’s what that film is all about is not the only sleight of hand, but it’s how to tell a mystery like a good mystery novel, not revealing things and also revealing things as carefully as you can. It’s been so long, I can hardly remember how to even talk about that movie, but I just remember that was a huge challenge. Well, the first challenge was reading the script and trying to understand it and going from there.

Even further back than that, when Usual Suspects came out I went and dented public Access on VHS. What was your first experience with Bryan Singer on that film?

Both Usual Suspects and Public Access before that, I never really take things too seriously in terms of oh my gosh, we’re doing a huge feature film. To me, it was just like we’re just making another student film together and I’m just going to make the best film I can. I think we were very lucky for both of those movies that there was really no studio per se to interfere with us at all. We just made a film that once we were happy with it we were done. I just saw it as a little project we were working on privately in a way.

I wasn’t on Public Access from the beginning. It’s a long story but I had a full-time job at the time and the producers were too leery to have me edit the movie and work a full-time job. So they went with another editor and about three months later after they had finished shooting, I got a call from Bryan basically threatening me that he’ll never hire me to do anything ever in my future if I don’t basically re-edit his movie for him. So they let the editor go and I asked for them to disassemble the entire movie. I didn’t want to see the other cut. I just basically cut a whole new movie without even realizing it because they didn’t want to tell me what the production problems were or eyeliner issues. I just cut his movie and then the composer dropped out at the last second, so I ended up writing the score as well. That’s the first time I guess anyone’s really done that and the rest is sort of history.

When you scored The Invasion, did you see the original cut of that movie?

Yes, I did. It wasn’t much better. I think the lore is that oh, the studio came in and ruined this director’s great cut and then did this other thing. Frankly, it was pretty terrible. I think they actually vastly improved it by bringing in the Wachowskis and basically rewriting half the movie.

How do you mess up Invasion of the Body Snatchers?

It was just really boring, the first cut, and sort of aimless. It really wasn’t about anything, so at least the Wachowskis came in and tried to make it about something subliminally, about a conforming society. Even at that, it still wasn’t great but I think it was better than what people were expecting because it was so notorious for the problems it was having.

It’s always fascinating when they try to fix a movie.

That was pretty amazing because they literally blacked out half the film with black slug and then rewrote script pages and pretty much reshot half the movie and spent millions of dollars doing it. Sometimes you’re at the point where is it really worth it to do all this? Maybe you should throw it into a trashcan and just say, “We tried” and count your losses.

That’s what I always wonder. How much can you save?

I say in most cases, that’s usually the wiser choice because usually it doesn’t work. Usually they spend all that money and it makes not much of a difference and the film fails anyway. I would say more times than not they should have just pulled the plug. In this one, they actually made it better but it still tanked so maybe they should’ve pulled the plug.

Have you developed an equally good relationship with Jaume Collet-Serra as you have with Bryan?

We had a fantastic relationship and I did a string of movies of his and I really had a blast. Then, I went off to do X-Men and kind of became unavailable for his next movie. It’s tough. Again, that’s the painful part about leaving and going to edit a film is I will sever relationships that I’ve built, so I don’t know if I’ll be back.

You did Non-Stop for him. Has he done another movie since?

Yeah, he’s doing one now and I was on X-Men so I couldn’t do it.

And he never asked you to edit?

I think he knows that I wouldn’t want to so he never even tried.

A filmmaker I really liked and became somewhat close to was David Ellis. What was your experience with him on Cellular?

Oh, wow, that’s going way back. All I remember is that he was extremely easygoing and let you do your thing. I always like that in a director. If I feel like I’ve got an iron fist over me, I just shut down and it becomes much more difficult for me to write. If someone just brings me in and trusts me, I really flourish more. It’s easy when you have a director like that to become lazy and just crank out some crap because you know they’ll probably be fine with it, but for me it’s the opposite. I am less lazy and I step up because I’m inspired that they’re inspired by me.

Do you have any stories about Bubble Boy, just because that’s such a weird little film?

Well, there’s an example of a movie that was really great before the studio got involved. It was a really, really bizarre funny movie that was even more wrong comedically, in a good way, than it is now. The studio came in and really lobotomized it, and the score became very piecemeal. There was a lot of source music so the score almost became the little links between all the songs in the film.

Now that wasn’t as publicized as The Invasion so I wasn’t even aware of what earlier cuts of Bubble Boy were like.

Yeah, it wasn’t publicized because it wasn’t a major reshoot situation. Just editorially, the studio came in and just wrecked it.
It has a cult following so I wonder if they could restore it someday.

I don’t know. Even as it is, it has a little cult following. It is interesting and it has funny parts to it. It just was really out there. Also, the song choices that were used originally were very tasteful and vintage pieces. Then the studio came in and put in the flavor of the week music in there in terms of the source music.

What are your favorite film scores that you admire?

Boy, there are so many it’s a hard question. Usually, I’ll answer by saying anything Jerry Goldsmith did in the late ‘70s, around the early ‘80s or many composers. That was the heyday of film music or even filmmaking I feel. There’s one little-known one that Jerry Goldsmith wrote for a TV movie called Masada and that’s one of my all-time favorite scores. It’s a miraculous score. I guess I single that out because no one knows about it.

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