Movie and TV studios don't often seek out the expertise of Stephen Kent Goodman, the proprietor of a company that provides music transcription services for enthusiasts of player pianos. So when the production team behind HBO's Westworld solicited Goodman's help in producing the bespoke custom rolls seen on the hit show, he was understandably psyched, if not a little daunted.
"They were under deadline," said Goodman in a recent phone interview with Thrillist from the Gnaw-Vol-ty Rolls workshop in California. "They presented what we perceived as a nearly impossible project that had to be completed within a very short timeframe. Roll-arranging and -perforating doesn't work like that. It's a lengthy process."
The request to produce authentic rolls fit with Westworld creators Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy's (expensive!) commitment to depicting the park as a meticulously crafted vacation experience for the very rich. So, despite his misgivings about the time constraints, Goodman was eager to work on a project that would shed light on the musical instruments, popular in the late-19th and early-20th centuries, that he refers to as "America's best-kept antique secret."