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Father-son musicians make Leo Awards history

Eli and Daryl Bennett dish on day jobs, desert islands and drums

By now, you may have heard of the Bennett boys’ coup at last month’s Leo Awards.

If not, the abbreviated backstory goes something like this.

Daryl Bennett has been in the film score game for 30-plus years, has awards out the wazoo and has shared the stage with the likes of Ray Charles and Celine Dion.  At 56, Bennett is a decorated veteran in Canada’s film and TV landscapes.

His son Eli, meanwhile, is the young up-and-comer. The 29-year-old gave his dad a historic dose of comeuppance on May 26 by beating his old man in a category they were both nominated in. Eli’s score for Believe: The True Story of Real Bearded Santas, won the former Vancouverite a Leo in the category Best Musical Score in a Feature Length Documentary.

Daryl’s already got four Leos, thank you very much, along with two Grammy nominations and similar nods from the Geminis, Canadian Screen Awards and Genies.

Dad is happy to dote — Eli’s score was “brilliant” — but the awards show sheen has given way to some friendly family rivalry.

To that end, the Courier dug deep into the Bennett backstory: Who does mom love more? Who wins in an arm wrestle? Who survives longer on a desert island?

Before getting the skinny, here’s the tale of the tape.

Eli Bennett:                                                                        Daryl Bennett:
Age: 29                                                                                Age: 56 
Birthplace: Vancouver                                                       Birthplace: Vancouver  
Current residence: Burnaby                                            Current residence: Port Coquitlam
Film scores: more than 30                                              Film scores: more than 150
Instruments played: saxophone, keyboards                Instruments played: drums, cello, keyboards
Height: 6’2                                                                           Height: 6’4
Weight: 160 pounds                                                          Weight: 185 pounds

What’s the last day job you’ve had?

Eli: I’ve never had a day job. Never have, never will.

Daryl: Me neither. Except I was a Keg waiter for six months.

Eli: He’s had a day job, I have not. Make sure you include that.

Daryl: Of course, I had moved out of my parents’ house when I was 18.

Eli: I got married last August and then I moved out. Everything is delayed 10 years when you’re a millennial. 28 is the new 18.

Who’s the better composer?

Eli: Ask the Leos this question. They’ll give you the answer … but he’s obviously the better composer.

Daryl: Obviously.

Eli: I’m just riding his coattails.

Who wins in arm wrestle between the two of you?

Daryl: Me.

Eli: Dad for sure.

Daryl: I’m a drummer, I’ve got bigger arms.

Eli: I prefer the phrase “brains over brawn.”

Who does Betty (the family matriarch) love more?

Daryl: I’d say if it came down to a sacrifice she would have to sacrifice Eli.

Eli: I’m not sure that would be her actual answer.

You are both stranded on separate desert islands. Who survives the longest?

Eli: I have zero survival skills. If there were mosquitoes, that would be the end of me. I’d give myself maybe a week.

Daryl: He hates camping. I would last longer. I’d last about two weeks. 

Who can grow a better beard?

Eli: Have you looked at my face? I don’t think I’ve hit puberty yet and I’m 29.

Daryl: Me, without a doubt.

Who is in better shape?

Daryl: I just lost 30 pounds by changing what I eat: no carbs and no sugar. But I don’t exercise at all, that’s why Eli is in better shape.

Eli: I stay in shape simply by playing gigs. I dance on stage for four hours.

What’s the difference between music you hear on the radio versus music heard in film scores?

Daryl: With film scores, it’s more about emotion and drama than your standard song writing.

Eli: One has a certain structure. Pop songs are pretty much the same, they follow the verse-chorus structure. But with score music, each scene is different and each film is different. There are tools you can use, but you have to do what the scene needs.

What has to happen for you to be satisfied with a score so you know that it’s complete? 

Daryl: If I can sit and watch a film queue that moves me, I know it’s almost done. I’ll start to well up and know we’ve got something here.

Eli: A huge takeaway that I’ve learned from my dad is that scoring needs to fit the scene, it needs to touch people, it needs to have an emotional element. That’s the role of music — to make people feel something. It seems like a simple idea but a lot of times in movies it’s not there.