Compositor Ranran Meng on Passion for Her Craft and Highlight of Esteemed Career

Compositor Ranran Meng

With every new project Ranran Meng takes on, she is doing what she loves. As a renowned compositor, she shows the world just what she is capable of on a regular basis.

“Being a professional compositor involves working on great projects with a high level of working flow. You put so much thought into every project, deciding on colors, sets, and how the audience is going to see it on the screen. It is very fulfilling,” says Meng.

Meng has an impressive resume, filled with a multitude of decorated projects. Many of the films she has been a part of have been nominated for several awards, including The Devil All the Time, Motherless Brooklyn, and A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. The same can be said for the television series she has been a part of, including HBO’s Succession, Amazon’s The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, and Showtime’s Escape at Dannemora.

With so many illustrious projects, it might be difficult for some to pinpoint the highlight of her career, but for Meng, she says it would be working on the new Netflix film tick, tick… BOOM! Meng had been a fan of Andrew Garfield’s since his Spider-Man days, and working on a film that he starred in was a dream come true.

“Something about seeing my name on the screen when tick, tick.. BOOM!’s credits rolled down, I felt so happy. It was just proof of my hard work that I could show to my family and friends. It is such a great movie,” says Meng. 

Directed by Lin-Manuel Miranda (Hamilton, Moana, In The Heights), the film follows Jon (Andrew Garfield), a young theater composer who’s waiting tables at a New York City diner in 1990 while writing what he hopes will be the next great American musical. Days before he’s due to showcase his work in a make-or-break performance, Jon is feeling the pressure from everywhere: from his girlfriend Susan, who dreams of an artistic life beyond New York City; from his friend Michael, who has moved on from his dream to a life of financial security; amidst an artistic community being ravaged by the AIDS epidemic. With the clock ticking, Jon is at a crossroads and faces the question everyone must reckon with: What are we meant to do with the time we have?

“The story talks about the award-winning musical theater composer Jonathan Larson, who wrote the revolutionary musical Rent, based on his story and life. He is about to turn 30 years old and is pursuing the dream of being a musical writer and composer. We see his struggle, his confusion, his despair and most importantly, his persistence. The road in life is never smooth sailing and will be full of thorns, but we should always persist,” says Meng.

Meng was responsible for refining many of the key scenes in the film that used a green screen to make them extremely realistic, as if they were filmed right in the heart of New York City and not a set studio. Many defining scenes have her touch, such as when Jonathan and his girlfriend Susan break up. Meng made the background a real street, added reflections to windows and other details to make it look realistic, and then added a sad and cold color palette to reflect the heartbreak in the scene. The result is truly captivating but also subtle, the exact result Meng was going for.

Meng achieved the same feeling in another sad scene when Jonathan is talking to his friend Michael. The thing about this scene is that Meng had to create heavy rain with the city background, using animation skills to create the rain. 

On top of this, the story of the film takes place in the 90s. This meant Meng had to go through each scene and ensure everything fit the time period. This may not feel like that long ago, but a lot has changed in 30 years, so it took a high attention to detail to ensure nothing was out of place.

Without these extremely important contributions Meng made to the film, it would not have been such a success. Compositing is vital to any movie, and tick, tick… BOOM! was no different. 

tick, tick… BOOM! had its world premiere at the AFI Fest on November 10, 2021, and began a limited theatrical release two days later, before streaming on Netflix on November 19, where it made its way into the top 10 for the service upon its release. The film was well-received by critics, and named one of the best films of 2021 by the American Film Institute, and was nominated for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy at the 79th Golden Globe Awards, and Best Picture at the 27th Critics’ Choice Awards. 

“Every part about this film is perfect, including the post-production, which is very professional and perfect. I’m very proud to have been a part of this movie’s success, and I hope in the future we could have more musical movies like this and that I have a chance to be part of,” says Meng.

Tick, tick… BOOM! is considered by many to be one of the best films of 2021, so if you haven’t had a chance to watch it, be sure to head onto Netflix and see Meng’s beautiful work.

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