Joe Kraemer has been scoring films since the age of 15, when he composed the soundtrack for high school classmate Scott Storm’s The Chiming Hour, a feature-length indie shot on Super 8 in 1986. It was during this time that he first met a young writer named Christopher McQuarrie, a meeting that would lead to three career-defining projects for Kraemer: The Way Of The Gun, Jack Reacher, and the upcoming Mission: Impossible 5.
Kraemer would leave high school behind to attend the renowned Berklee School of Music in Boston to study film composition. Kraemer’s first real ‘industry’ gig was scoring the NBC/Warner Brothers pilot The Underworld, written and produced by Christopher McQuarrie, shortly following McQuarrie’s Oscar win for The Usual Suspects. Though the series was not picked up, the pilot was ultimately repurposed as a TV movie, where it has gained a cult following.
Kraemer and McQuarrie would team for the latter’s debut as a feature film director, The Way Of The Gun. A modest showing at the box-office relegated the film to cult status, but the film would be a favorite for ‘temp-scoring’ by music editors. Ron Howard relied on the score heavily as temp music for his Best Picture film A Beautiful Mind, so much so that he included Kraemer’s music in the deleted scenes on the DVD and Blu-Ray.
In the years following The Way Of The Gun, Kraemer carved out an eclectic career scoring all manner of films, from documentaries to television movies to action and horror films. He has written music for over 100 films, TV movies, episodic television, and film shorts, some 40 films just for The Hallmark Channel/Larry Levinson Productions alone! Strong melodic writing and superb dramatic sensibilities have kept him at the forefront of their rotation, and highlights include his scores for John Putch’s The Poseidon Adventure and A Time To Remember, the Mystery Woman series of ten films, and westerns such as Hard Ground, Lone Rider and The Trail To Hope Rose. He has also written the music for The Hitcher II and Joyride 2 for director Louis Morneau, and six films with writer-producer Mark Altman, including House Of The Dead 2, The Thirst and All Souls Day.
Kraemer’s close artistic partnership with Altman led to scoring duties for Altman’s TV series Femme Fatales, a sexy homage to film noir and other genres for HBO/Cinemax. Kraemer also wrote the score for the prestigious documentary An Unreasonable Man, an Oscar-shortlisted feature about Ralph Nader for directors Steven Skrovan and Henriette Mantell.
But it is his relationship with director Christopher McQuarrie and actor/producer Tom Cruise that Kraemer is most known for. Jack Reacher, McQuarrie’s second directorial effort starring and produced by Cruise, would allow Kraemer to again use the palette of a full symphonic orchestra. Kraemer is poised to break out in 2015, with the release of Dawn Patrol in February, and a reteaming with McQuarrie and Cruise on Mission: Impossible 5, due out in summer 2015.