Life comes full circle for Ebert, Disney

February 23, 2015
David Wexler

Life has come full circle for Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros frontman Alex Ebert and Walt Disney.

In January 2014, Ebert met Frozen director Chris Buck, when they were serendipitously seated at adjoining tables at the 2014 Golden Globes, where they were both winners. Ebert won Best Original Score for the J.C. Chandor film, All is Lost, while Frozen won Best Animated Feature.

Air+Style FestivalFast forward to last Sunday … Disney’s Feast was the winner of Best Animated Short Film at the 87th Academy Awards. Ebert wrote and composed the score for the short, which was directed by first-time Oscar winners Patrick Osborne and Kristina Reed.

While Osborne and Reed accepted the Oscar, Ebert and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros were busy performing on a rainy afternoon at the Air + Style Festival at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., along with the Flaming Lips.

Among the thousands of fans in attendance was Chris Buck’s wife, Shelley Buck, who was there with her son’s band, Ryder Buck & The Breakers. Shelley was introduced to the music of ESMZ through her oldest son, Ryder, who died in a tragic accident in L.A. in late 2013, a little over a week after meeting his musical heroes at Edward Sharpe’s Big Top in Los Angeles. Members of ESMZ showed up during Ryder’s memorial service and performed a few songs with the Breakers.

“We will always feel connected to Alex and the members ESMZ through Ryder, as they meant so much to him, both musically and spiritually,” Shelley Buck said. “We never miss an opportunity to be in the audience, and we have both been able to meet and personally thank the members of ESMZ on Ryder’s behalf.”

There is no doubt Ryder was looking down at the Rose Bowl Saturday. Ryder credited the Zeros for “saving his life” while he battled cancer two years ago.

“We shared hours in the hospital, listening to ESMZ music, interviews, videos, etc.” says Shelley Buck. “Sometimes, when he felt up to it, he played them on his guitar, and this alone, brought the light into the room, the smile to his face and serenity to his spirit. I knew when he said he would connect with the band one day, that he would, that it gave him something profound to look forward to, and a reason to keep on fighting through the hell of chemo.”

feast-film-graphic1The Ebert/Buck connection doesn’t end there. Try to stay with me here … Osborne was an animator in Wreck-it-Ralph and Tangled films; Kristina Reed also worked on those films, as well Frozen. Meanwhile, Chris and Shelley’s youngest son, Reed Buck, also had a part in Wreck-if-Ralph and did all of the scratch track for the lead character in Big Hero 6, which Osborne also animated. Big Hero 6 won an Oscar last night for Best Animated Feature. Whew!

Feast was the first animated film that Osborne has directed.

“The first time I really got to see the movie finished with an audience, the audience was an orchestra,” Osborne told The Film Journal. “Last year in May, we went to the Warner Bros. soundstage with 30 musicians for one morning. We only had a couple of hours to get the whole score recorded. We showed the musicians what they were going to be playing [to], and that was super emotional for me because you realize you don’t even know how you got here at this point. How did I end up seeing my own movie with people playing live? You have to be very silent but it’s really neat to sit there and watch Alex Ebert, someone like that in his element, like really craft something he loves, see it go from not there to something that he was proud of.”

Osborne told The Film Journal that he initially tried versions of the short with no dialogue, but ended up adding in a score, “thinking that it would help carry the material.”

“I like his band and I like … I loved his score for All Is Lost,” Osborne told The Film Journal. “The distance between them, I felt if we could get to the middle of that it would work nicely for us. I’d send him copies of the film and he would send back his guitar score. And then last May, we went to the Warner Bros. soundstage with 30 musicians. We had one morning, really only a couple of hours to record the whole thing.”

Saturday’s concert at the Air + Festival was ESMZ’s second live concert of 2015. The Zeros performed in a free show Friday night at the University of Florida in Gainesville, Fla., amid temperatures in the 30s.

Read more about Ryder Buck:

Ryder Buck tribute podcast (Entertainment Drive Thru)

Ryder: ‘Live and love. We’re only here once’

Q&A with Shelley Buck

Ryde On

Remembering Ryder

Ryder Buck: ‘Your music saved my life’

Nikki Segal, lead female vocalist for Ryder Buck & The Breakers, sings along to ESMZ at the Air + Style Festival in Pasadena:

Trailer for Feast:

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