A little film I saw at Sundance last year is currently making some major waves at the box office. Filly Brown tells the story of aspiring Latina hip-hop star Maria, aka Filly Brown played by Gina Rodriguez. It opened last weekend on 188 screens, but netted $1.5 million in ticket sales. How? I credit the fact that Filly Brown takes the idea of the American dream and portrays it through the complicated, and at times difficult, lens of the music industry. We’ve certainly seen this story play out time and again, watching as hot young acts quickly climb the charts only to fall hard. But Filly Brown isn’t the story of a young girl only hoping to become a successful musician – it’s the story of a young girl desperate to put her family back together who stumbles across a talent that may help her make that happen. Driven by a commanding performance from Rodriguez, the music is as much a character in the film as any of the actors. I spoke with the film’s composer, Reza Safinia, about working with Rodriguez (who had never rapped before making the film), his approach to such a music heavy story, and what artist he and Rodriguez listened to in the studio for inspiration.