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John Swihart

By Kevin Zimmerman

John Swihart
(Napoleon Dynamite and TV’s How I Met Your Mother)

Practically born to compose – he’d mastered the piano and sax by age 10 – Swihart got serious about writing for the screen while at the Berklee School of Music, where he met up with student filmmakers from nearby Emerson College.

“I was working at a post-production house writing music for commercials, when I started scoring some Emerson short films,” he explains. “It soon became clear that this would be the least restrictive and most creatively rewarding experience.”

Swihart’s tended to stay on the indie side of the film street (Napoleon Dynamite, The Other Woman, Youth in Revolt) while landing more mainstream assignments in TV (How I Met Your Mother, Greek). With such disparate projects come, of course, different approaches. “I compose on piano or guitar – whatever’s talking to me – depending on the material and what I’m trying to do,” he says.

Keeping so busy prevents him from selecting a particularly favorite score. “I usually have a favorite cue or two from each movie that I find really satisfying,” he says. “A successful project is one where you feel you helped the storytellers tell their story and you got to participate in the storytelling.”

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