Gene played the violin and taught himself the guitar when he was a teenager, recording his first album in his parents’ basement when he was 16. Music was already woven into the fabric of his life; his father teaches Italian Opera and his mother always played piano at home. His earliest influences, thanks to a cool older sister, were the likes of the Velvet Underground and British singer-songwriters Nick Drake and Vashti Bunyan.
Thanks to being able to play so many instruments, Gene has been asked to compose incredibly cinematic commercials, some directed by Hollywood directors, which is how he found out just how much he loved scoring for film. His first feature, Holler, stars previous BAFTA Breakthrough Jessica Barden and is directed by Nicole Riegel, an unnerving vision of a young woman trying to pay for her education. His next film, Anna Kerrigan’s Cowboys, centres on a transgender boy and his dad, escaping from his conservative mother. Gene also co-composed the Netflix series Unnatural Selection, so in many ways, this has been a massive breakthrough year for him.
For Gene, being a BAFTA Breakthrough is a big responsibility, but he really hopes that a younger generation of composers whose voices have been historically underrepresented will be encouraged in a way that he was not. He would love to use this opportunity to meet one of his composing heroes, Ryuichi Sakamoto who scored and starred in Oshima’s Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence and like Sakamoto, his family are still hoping that Gene will find his way to being in front of the screen as well as behind it.