Composer Sage Lewis and the music of indie dark comedy Operator

February 02, 2017 11:30am

Film/TV Composer Sage Lewis breaks down how the narrative ideas become unique fodder for electronic and acoustic music in the SXSW hit film Operator by Logan Kibens starring Martin Starr and Mae Whitman. Modular synthesizers and vocoders were orchestrated with acoustic instruments to evoke the emotions of artificial intelligence, love, and heartbreak. Features modular synthesist Computo.

"The thousands of decisions made in scoring a film must come from the concepts within the film and from nowhere else. Writing music is about finding truth so you need to be really honest about everything. In the movie Operator, every last timbre, melody, rhythm, and harmony express the panic, empathy, artificial intelligence, love, heartbreak, and estrangement that the characters felt throughout the story."

Operator Soundtrack on Spotify

Operator Soundtrack on iTunes / Google Play / Amazon


Sage Lewis is a multi-talented composer whose scores empower stories across a diverse array of mediums. Composing for film, video games, and brand campaigns, Sage draws from orchestral, electronic, and international influences to evoke an iconic sound that is unique to the narrative. Sage’s music is featured in the hit indie film “Operator,” starring Martin Starr, Nat Faxon and Mae Whitman, which premiered at SXSW 2016. Indiewire listed it as one of their “7 hidden gems” for the festival, highlighting it as an “ideal humorous mixture of contemporary challenges and intimate conundrums that fit right in at SXSW.”

Sage is also a music pioneer in the virtual reality space. One of his projects, “Surrogate,” is set to premiere at SXSW 2016. For this unique piece, Sage crafted a beautiful score that immerses participants in the point of view of the protagonist, who the user controls. His music also amplifies the dramatic climax that punctuates the emotional experience. The film’s enveloping journey, featuring breakthrough innovations in VR storytelling, led to its nomination for SXSW’s Interactive Innovation Award in VR & AR.

A Sundance Film Composer Fellow, Sage’s film scores have screened at festivals including Cannes, Telluride, Slamdance, International Documentary Film Festival, Havana Film Festival, SXSW, and L.A. Film Festival. Sage has also established himself as a go-to resource for brands, as his music has enlivened the campaigns for prestigious companies including Google, Facebook, and Maiyet.

Sage has received numerous grants, awards, and commissions from institutions such as Theater Communications Group, Center Theatre Group, the City of Los Angeles, and the American Composers Forum. Alongside his composing career, Sage has a passion for designing experimental performance and technology projects. His leadership has facilitated international collaboration with regions including Cuba, Haiti, Saudi Arabia, and Tijuana.

Sage earned an MFA in Music Composition at California Institute of the Arts. Studying closely with Lucky Mosko and Anne LeBaron, among others, he received many unique opportunities at CalArts, including collaborations with filmmakers, animators, and choreographers. He honed his composing skills through studying electronic music, North Indian Classical music, Latin music, jazz arranging, conducting, and hyper-opera. This experience heavily influenced his international music style and led to his distinct sound. Sage also studied under Randolph Coleman and Jeffrey Mumford at the Oberlin Conservator, where he received a BA in Music Composition.

Sage currently resides in Los Angeles with his wife and 2-year-old daughter. His dream is to score films for twenty more years and then become the US Ambassador to Cuba.