Soundtrax: Episode 2014-4
July 13th 2014
By Randall D. Larson
Christopher Lennertz: Thinking Like a Composer: A conversation about RIDE ALONG, AGENT CARTER, AND THINK LIKE A MAN TOO
Soundtrack Reviews: COHERENCE (Dyrud), CONCORDE AFFAIRE ’79 (Cipriani), DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES (Giacchino), DEEP IN THE DARKNESS (Llewellyn), FARGO (TV Series; Russo), IN MY DREAMS (William Ross), PLANES: FIRE & RESCUE (Mancina), THE PURGE: ANARCHY (Whitehead), RED KROKODIL( Cimini), SNOWPIERCER (Beltrami), THE THOMAS CROWN AFFAIR (complete/Legrand).
From comedies to action films to super heroes, Christopher Lennertz adroitly navigates the diversity of film scoring without ever becoming pigeon-holed or typecast into a single filmic genre. While the new comedy film, THINK LIKE A MAN TOO, is Lennertz’s third comedy film with director Tim Story, it’s got a different location from the first film, THINK LIKE A MAN, which called for an enhanced musical treatment. And Lennertz’s second score for Story, RIDE ALONG, skillfully merged the musical genres of urban comedy with the action movie and gave the composer a very fun ride. While Lennertz gets called to score a lot of comedies (more than twelve in the last five years), he’s also plenty finding of opportunities in action, super hero, musicals, and other genres in films and television.
In this interview, recorded in late April, Lennertz discusses the variety of his workload and his music for Tim Story, as well as his noted television music for all ten seasons of SUPERNATURAL and for both seasons of REVOLUTION – and his scores for the Marvel One-Shot movies, ITEM 47 and AGENT CARTER. – rdl ]
Q: What kind of music does a comedy film need these days?
Christopher Lennertz: It depends on the demographic they’re trying to reach. For me, in the past three or four years, probably starting with HORRIBLE BOSSES and then going through THINK LIKE A MAN, IDENTITY THIEF, and those movies, I feel the trend in scoring adult comedies like those (as opposed to the ALVIN and HOP kinds of things) has a lot to do with feeling and sounding more like records, more like a band, but then adding elements of score in to highlight what you need to in terms of joke moments and character relationships and such. In a strange way, it’s not dissimilar to what was going on in the 60s with Henry Mancini when he was doing all the Blake Edwards movies and things like that, where he was using a popular music approach by using a jazz ensemble, and then supplementing it with strings and more traditional movie music things. I feel like we’re doing the same thing, but instead of using jazz we’re using rock. It’s the same approach of being contemporary but also using traditional score elements when needed.
Q: It seems to me, with some of the comedies we’re seeing these days, is that what they require musically is not so much that needs to highlight particular moments in the story but to create a vibe over which the comedy can play…
Christopher Lennertz: One of the things a lot of the directors I work with tend to say at this point is: “I don’t need you to tell them when to laugh as much as I need you to tell them that it’s okay to laugh.” I think that’s what it is. It’s giving the audience permission, and giving them enough energy, to laugh. HORRIBLE BOSSES is a great example, of having those scenes where the guys are planning revenge on their boss, where the music is really there to show everyone that it’s not too serious – it’s fun, a high-energy sort of fun that allows people to be loud and be boisterous in the theater and hoot and holler and laugh and have a good time. In many cases now, that’s part of the job, to give the audience a guide in terms of how to approach the movie and what mindset to be in, rather than specifically going from joke to joke or laugh to laugh like you would in, say, an animated comedy, which is very different.
Q: With that in mind what can you tell me about the approach you derived for Tim’s Story’s RIDE ALONG?
Christopher Lennertz: THINK LIKE A MAN was my first collaboration with Tim, and it was very much more of a straight romantic comedy, whereas RIDE ALONG had a big action component to it as well. So, what Tim and I started talking about was great for me, since I worked for Michael Kamen, is that he wanted this to be more like a LETHAL WEAPON, 48 HOURS, or BEVERLY HILLS COP. He said, “We want the action to be really exciting and really fun. I want to feel like a big action movie – and then we jump back into the comedy.” I was behind that one hundred percent. I love the tradition of those kinds of films, so I said, “Let’s do that! Let’s go back to that and really play the action music big.” It seemed to work really well – but for me, as a composer, it was great because I love doing that kind of music as well! To be able to do action and comedy all in one movie gives me a big musical palette and gives me the opportunity to flex the compositional muscles that I like to use.
Q: How would you describe your musical palette for RIDE ALONG? You’ve got the Hollywood Studio Symphony with the orchestral music, and also the vibe of the more modern rock band…
Christopher Lennertz: I don’t think there was any way to get around the hip-hop element, because we’ve got Ice Cube [in the movie]! When he’s in your movie you have to have at least some nod to hip-hop and where Ice Cube has come from. That was great for me, because I grew up in the 80s and 90s and I was just getting out of USC when N.W.A. was really big, and when Cube was really having a lot of hits. He was a big influence musically in the rap and hip-hop scene before he ever got into acting. So I wanted to bring some of the elements of what he did into the score – it’s funny because a lot of the action music is relatively modern and contemporary in terms of the electronics, but underneath that there’s actually a very 90s hip-hop element. There’s a lot of that in there, things that are very much Cube and Dr. Dre and Snoop and the early hip-hop artists mixed with modern electronics and sort of a John Powell vibe. And you mix in that with orchestra to get what I hope is exciting but also feels like it’s urban and it’s tough and it relates to where Ice Cube is coming from.
Q: What kind of thematic structure did you give the score?
Christopher Lennertz: There were a couple times early on in the process where I really tried to write a main theme for Kevin Hart’s character. But whenever we did that with a big melodic thing, it just didn’t work. If it was too big it started to feel silly or it was playing like a cartoon, and if we didn’t do enough we couldn’t really recognize it. Tim and I went back and forth on that, and finally what we ended up doing is writing him a bass line theme. It’s unusual to put something down there in the bass – the last time there were some great themes in the bass was in PINK PANTHER, PETER GUNN, all these Henry Mancini scores of the ‘60s that had great themes in the bass. That’s what we did here – we did it with a synth bass, and then some cues had an electric bass and it really created what I thought was the right theme for Kevin, because it’s fun and it’s funky and it’s catchy. Then there’s a string melody which is actually very simple, it’s only a little three note motif that you hear a lot in the violins; as they’re driving it goes back and forth, just a little “zing” that’s supposed to be Kevin and Ice Cube on the case. I always feel bad writing something that simple and that short as a theme, but then I think about JAWS and I go, “Ok! It’s alright I guess! It can work!” So it really did work and I bring it back in a lot of the action cues, we do it slowly in some of the dialogue cues. Tim was very instrumental in trying to make sure we don’t overpower anything, but he wanted to make sure that you left the theater with some things that you remembered.
Q: What was most challenging for you about scoring RIDE ALONG?
Christopher Lennertz: First off, I really do think that scoring comedy is hard! If your timing is off, I do feel that you can make things worse, whereas if you’re writing some sad music for a sad scene, your timing may not be right but as long you’re creating the right mood you’re sort of okay. But if you plow through a comedy scene and if it’s too slow or if it stops at the wrong moment, you can really make things worse – you can kill the comedy, as they say. So being very precise about stops and starts and tempo was very important something like this. Also, and it’s funny as I’m getting ready to start my fourth Kevin Hart movie right now, it’s that he is such a fast talker and he is so quick and so clever that you really have to bob and weave in between his delivery or else you actually get in his way! We had to jump in and out of what Kevin is doing because he has these great little fast monologues; I can’t stop the music but it has to get real small and then pop out a little bigger, then get real small again. It’s something that you don’t have to worry about with a lot of actors, but with Kevin it’s something that’s important to think about!
Q: When you’re preparing a soundtrack album for this type of the film, what are some of your considerations as far as sequencing and selecting the cues?
Christopher Lennertz: Making an album for a comedic film is always a little tougher, because I do feel that there are certain things that you don’t want to listen to – really short bits and things like that. As a listening experience, you want it to be a little bit more varied and eclectic over the running time of the album, whereas in the movie, even with the LETHAL WEAPONS and things like that, generally the big action music is always at the end. I always worry about that – as a listener do I want to wait till the very end to get to the big action stuff? So even if it’s out of film order, I’ll usually slide a few cues up that are maybe a little more dramatic, in order to break up the comedy and make it a little bit more interesting listen.
Q: How did you begin working on the Marvel One-Shots series?
Christopher Lennertz: I got so lucky! I’m such a huge superhero fan and such a big comics fan, I love those kind of movies! Dave Jordan, the music supervisor for Marvel, introduced me to the producers and to Louis D’Esposito, the director of both Marvel shorts that I did, ITEM 47 and AGENT CARTER. He wanted the music to be big and fun and funny. The One-Shots are a little quirkier than the movies, in terms of making sure that they’re fast and they usually have a little bit more of a comedic bent to it, whether it’s the slackers in ITEM 47 or Haley Atwell kicking butt in AGENT CARTER – but he still wanted it to have a big superhero feel. On the second one, AGENT CARTER, we got a chance to use a big orchestra, and it worked out really great. Obviously I don’t need to be secretive about the fact that I’m dying to do a Marvel movie, and I’m hoping it will be one that Lou directs! I think he’s a phenomenal filmmaker, and one who is right up my alley. I’m definitely doing a lot of comedies right now, but my initial heart in the business had been working for Basil [Poledouris], and Michael Kamen and that stuff – I love huge big action orchestral scores, and I hope at some point to be able to deliver a big one!
Q: The Marvel One-Shots began as short little vignettes and then gradually began to get more complicated with more room for action music and heavy action sequences…
Christopher Lennertz: I think initially they didn’t want to spend a lot of money on them so they made them short. Once they realized there was a market for those, that people were really looking forward to them and they were being used them to tell part of the back story in between the movies, that’s when they decided this was something worth spending money on, and they expanded their sights to include more stuff. Luckily, I was the recipient of that in terms of wanting to deliver a bigger score. It’s been a treat to use a big orchestra and do a big Marvel thing like that.
Q: How do you describe your music for ITEM 47, which is a pretty heavy action score…?
Christopher Lennertz: The action music in ITEM 47 was much more rock-based. We had a big twangy low guitar theme, almost like a Jack White kind of a thing on guitar as they robbed the bank. Then there was a lot of electronics, a lot of big guitars and baritone guitars, and the orchestral stuff didn’t come until later. There was a homage to an Ennio Morricone thing with vocals as the money rained down after they robbed the bank, and that was a little more classic spoofy kind of music, whereas we approached AGENT CARTER much more traditionally.
Q: One thing I liked about AGENT CARTER is also that you are referencing music of the period while also having this really cool Marvel super-hero vibe…
Christopher Lennertz: We’d actually talked about how to have both. How do you have a movie that doesn’t feel old and out of date and still has modern elements, but also has this period thing? It was one of those things where I told the director, “Lou, I have an idea, and you’re either going to love it or hate it. Let me do it and let me show it to you.” I went in and I put together a big band, combined it with an orchestra, and added modern electronic and dub-step elements. It was either going to be a disaster or it was going to be awesome. Luckily, Lou thought it was awesome and it worked. The big band is what plays the 1940s, and then the orchestra plays the Marvel Super Hero world, and then I threw in all the electronics – which I justify by saying it plays the technology, it plays the world and the action. Kevin Feige [producer] and Lou really liked it, and I think it sort of set a great tone for the One-Shot, and who knows – there’s even talk of an AGENT CARTER series, so we’ll see what happens! [With AGENT CARTER now having been officially approved for a series in 2015, there’s been no word yet as to which composer(s) will be chosen to score it, but hopefully Christopher Lennertz will be in a great position to be considered! He would be a natural choice to bridge the musical effectiveness of the One-Shot with the new serial, having already established a musical world that gives the character and the concept its ideal expression. – rdl]
Q: Speaking of series, you’re coming up on Season 10 of SUPERNATURAL – that’s been a long ride for you! How has the score developed over those seasons?
Christopher Lennertz: You know what? It’s really been great! SUPERNATURAL as a show has developed so well because everything that it’s had from the very beginning has been great – great chemistry with the brothers and a great family/emotional element, but it always had the scares and things like that also. Everything expanded over the years, so you’ve got angels and this whole idea of angels falling from heaven, and closing the gates of hell, and all these great mythological elements. And every time this happens, it opens up even more palettes of music, whether it be choral elements or more atonal things that are really creepy, but also the emotional elements like the brothers and their friends. I get to bring in things like organs and guitars, because the central characters, the two brothers, have always been big classic rock fans, especially Dean, that’s all he listens to in the car. So we’re always able to bring in more elements to make the score move along with the show. I’m very thankful to Eric Kripke and to all the producers who brought me in, it’s such a gift to be able to be along for this long of a ride and be part of something that so many people seem to be passionate about.
Q: How have you and composer Jay Gruska shared the scoring duties between episodes?
Christopher Lennertz: I alternate episodes with Jay, who has been on from the very beginning as well. It turns out wonderfully because Jay and I are now good friends, we share a lot of information, we share themes, and more than anything we’re able to cover for each other. If I have a movie due or he has – he’s actually written a show for Broadway, and whenever that happens we’re able to cover for each other and give one another a little bit of freedom to pursue other projects. Not many people have that, so I appreciate being able to work on it with Jay. He’s a phenomenal composer in his own right, and we’ve just really had fun doing it.
Q: And you’re still working on REVOLUTION, a post-apocalyptic adventure drama, on your own. How did that score develop over the last two seasons? [The news that NBC had cancelled REVOLUTION after its second season came after our interview. – rdl]
Christopher Lennertz: That one, again, it’s Eric Kripke, the same guy who created SUPERNATURAL. It’s had the additional benefit of having J.J. Abrams and Jon Favreau [as exec producers] involved, which is never a bad thing! So right from the get-go we knew it was going to have some of the mystery that J.J. is known for and then because Jon directed the pilot, we knew it was going to have this big, epic “event” thing to it, so we really went big. We have a very large sized TV orchestra, and we’ve been able to keep that every week – so each score is with a live orchestra. A lot of credit for that comes from J.J. and Mike Giacchino for making that happen [with their previous collaborations], and making sure that people are starting to respect and appreciate live orchestras in TV again. And as far as the music style of the show, it’s started out very, very epic, with a very big brassy sound and lots of thick orchestration and big drums, and now that we’ve gotten into season 2 the show has gotten darker, and that’s been very much on purpose. Things have really descended into a much more sci-fi/eerie/creepy place, so a lot of what I’ve been doing, especially this year, is very textural, a little more atonal, and a little more mysterious. There are still huge action scenes and times where we’re able to pull out all the stops, but I think there’s the traditional element of mystery and science fiction that expanded after the first season. I’m such a huge fan of what J.J. did before on LOST and, even older than that, I’m such a Jerry Goldsmith fan and I love some of the real early mysterious TV shows going as far back as TWILIGHT ZONE, with had such an amazing palette to write music that makes people uncomfortable, and they’re allowing me to do that this year.
Q: With all of this we’ve been talking about seemingly going on concurrently, it must be a heck of an agile schedule you’ve got to keep it all going.
Christopher Lennertz: Yeah. It’s definitely busy! I certainly have to give first and foremost credit to my team. I’ve got an amazing team of orchestrators and programmers and assistants and engineers who really make everything run like clockwork. They work their tails off, and I appreciate everything they do. I’m also lucky to have great, understanding collaborators. The people that I work with keep coming back to me even when I say “no, I’m busy!” and they’re willing to be somewhat flexible, working it out because they know at the end of the day I’m all about them telling their stories. I love my collaborators to death, and I will bend over backwards to help them tell their stories the way they want them to be told, and I think they appreciate that. They give me the benefit of being able to make that happen, and I feel very lucky to have that.
Q: Now coming up you’re working with Tim again with THINK LIKE A MAN 2. How does your music for this sequel film tie in with what you wrote in the first movie?
Christopher Lennertz: I think we definitely have a lot of the same vibe. The big fun part for me is that this time we’re in Las Vegas, so there’s a LOT more horns! There’s a lot more brass. We wanted to make sure we really felt like we’re in Vegas! But it’s still Vegas with Kevin Hart, so it’s got to have a funkiness to it and it’s got to have the speed. And then the great thing about Tim’s movies, and especially his THINK LIKE A MAN movies, is that he sort of tricks guys into going to a comedy where by the end everyone’s crying! Tim is such a good director in terms of making an enjoyable romantic movie. I think it’s great because I’m such a sap and I love Hollywood style endings, and this one’s no different. It really has three or four huge romantic things at the end that really come together, and Tim wanted me to write really sweet moments. I always love being able to do that. Alan Silvestri is one of my favorite composers and when you see something like he did with FATHER OF THE BRIDE where it’s hilarious and it’s funny but then by the end, man, it is so honest and so heartwarming – and I just think that when people go to the movies, they want to spend their money and feel like, “Hey, I really enjoyed that, I feel better coming out of this, I escaped from whatever job I was having stress about and I was really able to enjoy myself.” Those are the kind of movies that Tim makes so well, and luckily as a composer he’s given me the opportunity to write really sweet, romantic music.
Q: And now you’re working on another sequel, HORRIBLE BOSSES 2!
Christopher Lennertz: I am! Those characters are also very dear to my heart, and I had a blast on the first one. The second one, much like THINK LIKE A MAN 2, is even bigger. For this one, we lost Colin Farrell because he was shot in the first movie, but not only did the whole cast come back, we also have Christoph Waltz and Chris Pine in this one, which is a whole new ball park. So we’ve got the same cast plus them and things get even crazier. There’s a bigger car chase and there’s more crazy antics. We’re going to have the same band that we had last time, plus a couple more members, and the same orchestral elements as well. It’s going to be a bigger, crazier ride than the first!
Q: One thing that’s very clear about all of this is that you’re certainly not locked into or pigeon holed into a certain kind of movie. Even the comedies you’re doing are very different from one another, and you have had the opportunity to switch between several different kinds of musical approaches.
Christopher Lennertz: I’m not sure how much I did it on purpose but that was always my plan! I decided I wanted to be a composer the day after I snuck into a Henry Mancini scoring session, and to me that’s always been one of the great benefits of being a film composer rather than being a concert composer or even a rock musician, because once that happens every one expects you to do your thing all the time, forever the same way. But when you look at those film composers, especially the ones who have that vast range – people like an Alan Silvestri, or a James Newton Howard, who can go from a comedy to an action thing. I love that. Henry Mancini and Jerry Goldsmith certainly could, and John Williams can do anything. These people can go from one style to the next, I just think that’s such a gift. When you’ve got to be creative on a deadline the way we are, it’s so much easier to do that if your last movie was a comedy and the new show you’ve got to do is an action show – you can get the real adrenalin out of the creative process because it’s this new thing. You get up that morning and you look at that blank page, and it’s like “Hey I know you did comedy for the last two weeks, well today you don’t do comedy, today to get to do action!” And that to me is what makes it more enjoyable and more fun!
For more information on Christopher Lennertz please see his web site: http://www.christopherlennertz.com/
Special thanks to Albert Tello at Costa Communications for facilitating this interview, and to Christopher Lennertz for his warm enthusiasm in sharing his perceptions and experiences with me. - rdl
New Soundtrax in Review
COHERENCE/Kristin Øhrn Dyrud/MovieScore Media
With this release, MovieScore Media tackles another exciting and experimental science fiction score. This independent 2013 American sci-fi thriller, written and directed by James Ward Byrkit, focuses on the lives of eight friends caught up in the aftermath of an astronomical anomaly caused by a comet’s passing closely to the Earth. Kristin Øhrn Dyrud is a Norwegian composer living and working in LA. She regularly works on commercials with HUM Music, arranged the currently used version of TV’s JEOPARDYopening theme, and her music for THE ATTIC DOOR won the award of Best Film Score at the Bend Film Festival. COHERENCE contains an intriguingly crystalized sound-design score that emphasizes the otherworldly mysterioso of what begins to happen to the characters in the film. The music is a kaleidoscope of sonic images and musical textures that brush together, shift against one another, reflect each other, and form the grain of a haunting and, at times, very unsettling soundscape. “COHERENCE offered me the rare opportunity to be experimental, gritty and at times - outright strange with the score” explained the composer. “The film is smart and very well-thought out, so I wanted these characteristics to be reflected in the score. The music at times ventures into the realm of sound design. Instead of melodic themes, I relied on signature sounds to convey the drama and suspense in the film. One of the first things I did after spotting the movie was to spend several days just sculpting sounds and creating odd textures. I used sources like spoken words, birds, sleigh bells, cellos and guitars that I applied filters and various effects to. This helped create a unique and rich palette to work with.” Despite its complex textural basis and Dyrud’s stylized musical approach, the score is coherent (no pun intended) and cohesive and, on MSM/Kronos’ soundtrack release (Dyrud’s first commercial album), is a nicely sequenced gapless album with a few long tracks (6:25, 10:20) that are quite contemplative; it makes for quite an engaging sonic journey, both fitting the hard science fiction element on which the film seems to be is grounded while also serving as a musical metaphor for the shattering personal relationships that Byrkit explores in the picture.
For more information on the composer, see http://www.kristindyrud.com/
CONCORDE AFFAIRE ‘79/Stelvio Cipriani/
Chris’ Soundtrack Corner
Directed by the controversial Italian auteur behind the notorious CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST, Ruggero Deodato, 1979’s CONCORDE AFFAIRE '79 mixes the genre of then-fading disaster epic with that of the investigative thriller. No relation to the American film of the same year, THE CONCORDE… AIRPORT ’79 (scored by Lalo Schifrin), Deodato’s film is far less disaster and far more investigation as it tells of a reporter who tries to stop the crash of an aircraft after uncovering a sabotage plot against Concorde flights. Cipriani’s score, which makes its CD debut with this handsome package, features the composer’s characteristic mix of pop elements and dramatic orchestral scoring. Central to the score is the main “Affaire Theme,” a pretty five-note theme that appears in many guises throughout. This lush romantic theme is heard orchestrally in “Affaire Theme,” “Affaire Theme for Strings,” “Safe Landing;” elsewhere it winds its way through the pop pieces in a number of pleasing variations, such as a dreamy, surrealistic “Affaire Theme for Guitar” (an alternate version included lends an event cooler “warped” sound to the processed guitar which is quite remarkable). “Danger Call” offers up a terrific dramatic pace for rapid mercato strings that build up a frenetic bit of excitement; “Danger Flight,” heard over the main and end titles, serves up the same motif only with keyboard and bass in the place of the strings. “Life Alert” sets up a crushing lament for swaying chords of strings embellished with whirls of synths. Other tracks are adult-pop pieces and popped-up arrangements of the main theme; a splendid Europop ‘70s score properly rescued from oblivion. Writer John Bender provided informative commentary notes to 4 pages of the nicely illustrated CD booklet.
For more information and to hear soundbytes, see http://www.soundtrackcorner.de/
DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES/
Michael Giacchino/Sony Music
In what is essentially a reworking of the last of the original APES movies, BATTLE FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES, Michael Giacchino steps into the current APES franchise with a tremendous score for Matt (CLOVERFIELD, LET ME IN) Reeves’ sequel to 2011’s reboot, RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES. Taking advantage of the resources of a full orchestra and choir, Giacchino saturates DAWN with musical movement and meaning, while reflecting just enough of the percussive/acoustic Jerry Goldsmith music from the original 1968 movie to produce an appreciative smile from those in the know. “I knew immediately that I wanted to acknowledge the experimental musical style which my hero Jerry Goldsmith chose for the original film by finding my own interesting sounds,” Giacchino said. “DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES is an extremely moving story about tolerance and how we deal with each other as a society … I knew we would have to treat that subtext with great respect and dignity. I hope that I have done so while also honoring Jerry's original sound.” Balancing his aggressive Apes music with poignant melodies and intimate evocations, Giacchino creates a soundscape that colors the primates with a depth of character and intelligence suitable to the storyline, as humans and the genetically evolved apes come to the brink of a war that will decide which species dominates Earth. The eyes of Caesar, the alpha apt whose enhanced intelligence formed the base of RISE’s storyline and which feature prominently on the film’s key art, seem to have given Giacchino much of his inspiration here, as his music nimbly reflects the passion, purpose, and provocation pictured in those eyes, giving voice to Caesar’s character, which in turn exemplifies the “apemanity” of all the primates who insist on sharing Earth with their humanoid ancestors. Texturally interesting sonic patterns both counterpoint and intersect melodic flavorings that make for a fine score and a compelling listen on its own. (Giacchino also wins this year’s Don Davis Clever Track Name award for the primate pun-full titles that adorn the DAWN album tracks).
For Jon Burlingame’s report on Giacchino’s DAWN scoring sessions, see:
DEEP IN THE DARKNESS/Matthew Llewellyn/Screamworks-Kronos
A long-time member of Brian Tyler’s musical team, contributing to high profile projects such as IRON MAN 3, THOR: THE DARK WORLD, THE EXPENDABLES 2, and JOHN DIES AT THE END, Matthew Llewellyn has begun branching out as a composer in his own right. If this score is any indication, Llewellyn will likely do very well on his own. Directed by Colin Theys (who first worked with Llewellyn on 2012’s DEAD SOULS; also released on album by Screamworks), DEEP IN THE DARKNESS follows a family who leave the urban chaos of New York City for a quiet country town, and of course discovers a deep secret: a terrifying and controlling race of creatures that live amongst the dark woods behind their new home. Combining traditional and contemporary orchestral textures, Llewellyn’s score is a provocative symphonic work, enhancing and accelerating the film’s suspense and brooding horrors with a melodic musical style, built around a pretty theme for cello and strings that suggests the family or the purity of the woods – both noble elements that are corrupted by the presence of the dangerous creatures. This theme grounds the score in the human characters that are in peril and contracts nicely against such tracks as “They’re Coming For You,” “Lauren Hunter Is Hunted,” and “The Swarm,” which build up an oozing, sinewy unease that culminates in a fierce, percussive hammering that is familiar but effective in driving a panic-stricken dread across the viewer’s/listener’s spine. Other tracks, like “We’re Not Going Back,” bolster the family’s sense of heroism/survival with some tremendous orchestral measures that really energize the score. The album has a fine sound, giving the score’s performance (by the Slovakia National Symphony Orchestra) a very pleasing dynamic. Llewellyn’s mastery of orchestration and ability to craft a persuasive symphonic-styled score that is hewn out of the story’s deepest elements and potent emotive standards, gives the music a cohesion even at its most aggressive moments. DEEP IN THE DARKNESS is one of the year’s best horror scores, and an accessible and authoritative score that treats its subject with sensitivity and substance.
FARGO (TV Series)/Jeff Russo/Sony Music
Former rocker with the band Tonic, Jeff Russo has been scoring films and TV for the last five years. His is his most visible project to date, the 10-part television series FARGO, produced by MGM Television and FX Productions and shown on the FX Network, has been released on CD by Sony. Inspired by the 1996 Coen Brothers’ film, the TV series involves different characters involved in a crime/mystery/thriller in the vein of the feature film. Russo’s musical style for both the series theme and its episode scores are clearly derived from that of Carter Burwell in the ’96 movie, the same frosty, suspended, slowly-weaving kind of melodies, although without slavishly mimicking the film score. But the producers definitely seemed to want to forge a musical as well as visual/storyline reference between the series and the film (otherwise why share the same title?), which Russo effectively accommodates through the score and this album, which consist of 28 tracks and just over 52 minutes, culled from episode of the show’s ten episodes. “The task was to stay in the world of FARGO but create our own identity (a very tall order considering the iconic nature of the movie and its score),” Russo told Daniel Schweiger in an interview for Film Music Magazine. “So I felt I had to write all new melodies and themes while staying with the orchestral nature. The main theme for the movie is taken from and based on a Norwegian Folk song called “The Lost Sheep” aka: “Den Bortkomne Sauen.” I thought it would be good to sound a bit more Eastern European to give it a bit of different feel. The idea was to sound cold and lonesome and yet retain the emotion.”
Aside from the atmospheric music that characterizes the overall show, Russo also assigns specific motifs and instruments to each of the main characters – Martin Freeman’s somewhat whimsical “Lester Nygaard” is associated with the main theme, while Billy Bob’s Thornton’s menacing Lorne Malvo is cleverly identified with a confident walking bass rhythm under snare drums and mandolin, which give the motif a slight threatening characteristic. Colin Hanks’ local police officer Gus is reflected in the mix of chimey harp, low burping brass, and high, reflective gleams from oboe, while the theme Allison Tolman’s Deputy Molly Solverson is designed to keep the audience off balance as to which way her character will go. These various motifs are laced icily throughout the score like drifting snow flurries, flavoring the story and its mysteries, the characters and their changing situations, with a weight that shifts across the arc of the ten-episode storyline. “The trick was to try to write the score as if I’m writing a 10 hour movie that you can sit and watch from beginning to end,” Russo told interviewer Fred Topel. “You don’t want these major changes to happen from episode to episode, so the change in the music which coincides with the progression of the characters needs to be subtle as you go. But if you were to watch episode one and then watch episode 10, it would be a really dynamic change.”
For more insight into the FARGO score, read Daniel Schweiger’s interview with Jeff Russo, posted at http://www.filmmusicmag.com/?p=13244 , and Fred Topel’s interview, at http://www.craveonline.com/tv/interviews/716749-exclusive-interview-jeff-russo-on-the-music-of-fargo
For more information on Jeff Russo, see http://jeffrusso.com/
IN MY DREAMS/William Ross/Momentum
William Ross’ poignant melodic sensibility is put to fine use in his score for this Hallmark Hall of Fame romantic drama, about a pair of friends frustrated with their bad luck in romance who seem to be drawn to one another, initially in their dreams. Ross’ music is sublime loveliness, mostly quiet and subdued, laying down a meadow of strings, piano, and acoustic guitar that follows the tentative romance through to its fruition, highlighting the intimacy of solo instruments rather than the overwhelming tide of all the full orchestra at once. “The whole premise is, ‘Will two people who fall in love in their dreams be able to make those dreams a reality?’” Ross says in a digital booklet available on Momentum’s web site (notes by Tim Grieving). “I wanted [the dream sequences] to have a little bit of edge, but not too much. Everything is measured in a few grains of sand here, a few grains of sugar there – it’s not big heaping tablespoons. I was looking for a subtle edge.” As the pair’s friendship emerges through a series of dreams into reality, Ross’ music becomes more assertive and confident, the melodies more assured and fluid, while still delineating the dreams as a separate consciousness from the couples’ real lives. Music for the dream sequences have their own musical opacity, focusing on shimmering synthetic sounds grafted amidst light acoustic instruments like mandolins and dulcimers, Grieving notes. By the time the couple’s true love emerges into the sunlight of reality, Ross is embracing it with all the wonder and vibrant passion that it deserves (“This is Real,” the album closer, expresses the fully awakened love in a joyous and fulfilling brightness). The score’s passage from tentative attraction through epiphany into emerging joy is a very fulfilling and satisfying musical journey.
PLANES: FIRE & RESCUE/Mark Mancina/Disney
Mark Mancina returns to the musical worlds of Disney’s PLANES (2013) with his mighty and majestic score for the new sequel, PLANES: FIRE & RESCUE. What seemed initially to be little more than CARS restructured for the air, the new films adds a provocative heroic layer by incorporating the first film’s misfit hero into the ranks of an aerial firefighting squad. Mancina has kept the themes established in the first film close at hand, reprising and updating them for the situation and scope of the new animated film. “Dusty’s more grown-up so the music wanted to be a little more grown-up – a little bit richer,” he said. “There’s an arc to his life and the music needed to follow that arc.” Mancina opted for a more orchestral sound in the new score. “It comes from an earthy direction, so there’s a lot of orchestral percussion, French horn, strings and woodwinds,” he explained. “There is added texture from other types of instruments, but the heart of the score is an orchestra.” With a focus on melodic themes, often woven into tightly orchestrated action music with plenty of opportunities for soaring heroic measures, Mancina recorded the score with a 90-piece orchestra, yet honed moments down to the simple intimacy of acoustic piano for scenes like the montage, “Training Dusty.” The piano here is performed by more other than Bruce Hornsby, whose recognizable style on the keys gave this sequence a more mature, serious clarity that emphasized the dangers that Dusty is being prepared to handle. Hornsby’s playing is also heard near the end in “Saving Dusty,” giving the track an emotive, heartfelt tone that reflects the bold confidence of the training sequence. In addition to Mancina’s score (and nicely tracked at the beginning, allowing Mancina’s music to play undisturbed from track four to the end), the album contains a pair of songs by Country singer Brad Paisley, both of which are catchy and memorable, and a poignant ballad co-written and sung by newcomer Spencer Lee. A thoroughly enjoyable album and a superb heroic/heartfelt action score by Mark Mancina.
THE PURGE: ANARCHY/Nathan Whitehead/Back Lot Music
Nathan Whitehead revises the relentless driving rhythms of 2013’s THE PURGE in its new sequel. The first film introduced the notion of an annual Purge day a few decades from now, during which all violence and crime including murder is legalized, thus letting Americans “purge” their violent instincts by letting the out one day a year, the idea being that the rest of the time they’ll all be nice. Whitehead’s music for the original film (also issued on CD by Back Lot Music) helped define the claustrophobic scope of the concept, there confined to a single home, through an effective mix of electronics and percussive textures. In the new film he is able to expand THE PURGE’s menacing atmospheres and unnerving propulsion to fit the new story, which takes its liberated violence out into the streets as a young couple is accidentally caught outside when The Purge begins and must try to stay alive throughout the annual night of bloody aggression. “Scoring THE PURGE: ANARCHY was thrilling,” Whitehead said. “Everything is bigger this time; the action, drama and tension all take place on a much larger scale. I worked hard to incorporate this larger scope in the music, and we went much further combining aggressive electronics and textures with a live orchestra. It was such a satisfying challenge, and I hope my score delivers the intense experience that moviegoers are looking forward to having.” The result is a conclave of industrial sound progression with a hammering percussive acceleration that keeps the anxiety and panic flowing, culminated by a trio of patriotic-anarchist pieces which exemplify the future United States’ wisdom in curtailing its violence through these annual free-for-all purges; but Whitehead retains enough of an edge in these pieces to keep the viewer questioning its authority.
For more about Whitehead, please visit www.nathanwhitehead.com
For more about the movie, see: www.blumhouse.com/film/thepurgeanarchy
RED KROKODIL/Alexander Cimini/Kronos
Kronos Records has released a very interesting album from this Italian drama, released to video early in 2013. The film is a “neorealist hallucinatory” film from director Domiziano Cristopharo (THE MUSEUM OF WONDERS) about a drug addict hooked on krokodil (desomorphine) who suddenly finds himself alone in post-nuclear city reminiscent of Chernobyl, suffering from the same kind of progressive physical decay, caused by his massive intake of drugs, as the city through which he walks. The music by Alexander Cimini, who is also a film director and editor, is a sublime orchestral work, adding to the melancholic dreaminess of the film’s stylistic depiction of deterioration. Cimini’s music focuses on the main character of the krokodil addict, examining the film’s world as he sees it, reflecting the addict’s perceptions and visions of beauty and despair, entropy and hope. Not having seen the film but examining the music on its own merits, Cimini’s work is ultimately redemptive and lovely in its orchestral fluidity and purity. In addition to Cimini’s music, the film and thus the album also features some heavier rock instrumental material, presumably covering the film’s more nightmarish dreamscapes – this includes tracks from some other non-film recordings of Cimini as well as one from his score to M.A.R.C.O. (a 2010 drama of also directed and edited, told in flashbacks and flesh forwards). The album also contains a delirious acoustic piece written for RED KROKODIL by Gabriel Verdinelli, apparently also used in the film. Most of these are less interesting and much more musically esoteric and avant-garde; I much favor the pure orchestral musicality of the symphonic pieces. A bonus track is included – a provocative 7-minute piece called “Passion and Love?” that Cimini wrote for but was not used in Christopharo's 2011 film, HYDE'S SECRET NIGHTMARE, (the film was scored by Kristian Sensini, whose score was released previously by Kronos) .
For more information on the album, see: http://www.kronosrecords.com/K45.html
For more information on the composer and to hear samples of his work, see: https://soundcloud.com/alexander-cimini
SNOWPIERCER/Marco Beltrami/Varese Sarabande
In a future where a failed global-warming experiment kills off all life on the planet except for a lucky few who boarded the Snowpiercer, a train that travels around the globe, in which an intricate class system evolves amongst humanity’s survivors. Based on a French graphic novel, SNOWPIERCER is a South Korean science fiction film directed by Bong Joon-ho, noted for the 2006 monster movie GWOEMUL (THE HOST), and starring a mix of Hollywood, British, an Asian stars. Marco Beltrami’s score is a remarkable fusion of styles, building the film’s futuristic world out of mixed textures, modernistic musical elements, and intriguing sound design. “I had three main ideas for SNOWPIERCER right off the bat,” Beltrami told Daniel Schweiger in an interview for Film Music Magazine. “The first was, since the train was led by a perpetual engine that would encompass the globe once every year, then perhaps there was some sort of musical representation for that. So the ‘perpetual motion’ theme plays throughout the film in various configurations. Secondly, since the world outside was completely frozen over, whenever they talk about the outside, there is a theme, which is played on icy, harmonic strings. The third idea was to create a theme for the girl Yona, who’s so important because she represents the lasting hope for humanity. After I had these themes, it was a question of how to develop them into a cohesive score.” The music emphasizes SNOWPIERCER’s traveling dystopian society through a lack of cohesive melodies and a reliance upon fragmented musical elements, while conveying the idea of a world (the train) in constant movement through music that is continually evolving and very rarely stationary except when it focuses on character interactions (“Take My Place,” for example, an intimate and reflective consideration of keyboards). Mostly, though, Beltrami’s recurring motific ideas are laced throughout a score that is constantly shifting with fresh ideas - like the changing landscapes that rush by the Snowpiercer’s windows as it hastens across the landscape. Beltrami keeps the score continually fresh with new musical ideas, incorporating things like the tolling of a gong in tracks 7 and 8, introducing the nascent electronica of “Seoul Train” as it merges into a kind of “steam train” sound design, and the like. It all culminates into a progressive resolve at the score’s end, when, in “Yona Lights,” the music gathers momentum and climaxes into a rhythmic rush of commanding horn chords, the score’s first such declarative orchestral harmonic, as hope appears on the horizon. The dour, strident low piano notes that opened the score in “This Is The End” now become the hopeful, bright, confident piano notes of “This Is The Beginning,” growing into a reprise of the triumphal “Yona Lights” rhythm piece. The score concludes provocatively with a solo violin (over piano) rendition of “Yona’s Theme,” growing from a very corrupted, twisted violin interpretation to blossom into a serenely powerful, assertive rendering that echoes out as it advances into a hopeful future. Added to the end of this final track is a kind of “hidden” track, the twisted “Snowpiercer” hymn, a religious paean to the locomotive of salvation (“The engine is eternal/The engine is forever!”). A highly stimulating and inventive score.
THE THOMAS CROWN AFFAIR (complete)/Michel Legrand/Quartet
Michel Legrand’s celebrated soundtrack for the alluring 1968 Norman Jewison caper thriller/romance is given the expanded treatment in this fine new release from Quartet Records. The film starred Faye Dunaway and Steve McQueen as cat and mouse matching wits against each other, in a story about a daring, debonair robber and the sexy insurance investigator determined to get her man. Brilliantly directed by Jewison, the film enjoyed great critical and commercial success and has become an icon of sixties style – known for its agile editing, Pablo Ferro’s designs, the hot chemistry between Dunaway and McQueen, the costumes, and, of course, the music. Legrand’s score, a marvelous mix of pop, jazz, and classical influences congealed into a single, varied yet unified sound environment, is an icon of 1960’s hip movie music. Two primary themes keep the score in focus, the wistfully melodic “Windmills of Your Mind,” which is presented in its sung version (by 60’s Brit heartthrob Noel Harrison; lyrics by Alan and Marilyn Bergman) and instrumental renderings, and the eloquently dramatic “His Eyes, Her Eyes” which serves as an anthem of ruthless determination, but is also interpreted via jazz and sultry strings across the album’ length. The original 1968 record album was a stereo re-recording done by Legrand in France; it is included here along with the original mono film version which was heard in the film’s soundtrack. The clarity with which both versions present on this digital remaster is intoxicating and Quartet’s album attains a particularly intricate sound quality. For example, in one of the album’s best tracks, “The Chess Game” (titled “Chess, Anyone?” on the original mono cues), resonates with the crystal clear sonic dimensionality of its varied percussive elements, sinewy saxophone, wafting pizzicatos, and muted trumpets and syrupy strings, all mixed in into perfect reflection of McQueen’s rough-edged mystery and Dunaway’s sensual sheen that makes up a very furtive exploration of the “His Eyes, Her Eyes” motif. For a 46-year old score, Legrand’s music for the film remains significant and enduring. As Stéphane Lerouge writes in his fine album notes, “[The score’s] powers of fascination remain intact, as if in the score’s synthesis of Legrand’s different cultures – jazz, Baroque, the influence of Stravinski – its composer had discovered the chemistry of a perfect formula for modernity.” Lerouge concludes his analysis of Legrand’s score with a quote from one of today’s most significant and popular film composers Alexandre Desplat: “If I write film music today, it’s because I first heard the music from THOMAS CROWN when I was fourteen. To me, it represents an ideal a beacon.”
In Memorium: Ken Thorne
Remembering composer/orchestrator Ken Thorne, who passed away on July 9 at the age of 90. A versatile composer, whose memorable works include the underscore to The Beatles' HELP!, the Oscar-winning adaptation score for the film version of A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM, and composing such outstanding scores as HANNIE CAULDER (still one of my very favorite Western film scores - see link below), LASSITER (fun stuff with Tom Selleck as an Indiana Jones wannabe), taking on Mancini and Peter Sellers alike with a charming theme for INSPECTOR CLOUSEAU, taking on Basil Poledouris to score RETURN TO LONESOME DOVE, reuniting with HELP!'s Richard Lester to score HOW I WON THE WAR and later the action thriller JUGGERNAUT and much else, and with Peter Sellers and Ringo in THE MAGIC CHRISTIAN, adapting John Williams to score SUPERMAN II and III (both directed by Lester), and lots more.
Born in England in 1924, Thorne had a successful career as a big band pianist during the 1940s. But he decided to take music studies seriously and began composition studies at Cambridge. During his big band days, Thorne had helped out with musical arrangements for the 1948 Terry-Thomas film, A DATE WITH A DREAM; but his film work began in earnest in the early 1960s. After scoring a handful of comedies and crime dramas, including Richard Lester’s 1962 pop musical, IT’S TRAD, DAD (known as RING-A-DING RHYTHM in the USA), Thorne reunited with Lester in 1965 to compose the instrumental score for HELP!, starring The Beatles. It was Thorne’s task to adapt and sift through and between the pop songs by The Beatles that were the film’s main draw, providing the exotic and captivating mysteriosos and James Bondish-introduction that supported the film’s comic cult-sacrifice plot. He did the same for The Monkees in their 1968 movie, HEAD.
Thorne also wrote most of the music for the popular British TV series, THE PERSUADERS (1971-72), arranged the music of Donovan for the American version of Franco Zeffirelli’s BROTHER SON, SISTER MOON (1972), and composed some very effective action scores Kevin Connor’s ARABIAN ADVENTURE (1979), and the horror film THE HOUSE WHERE EVIL DWELLS (1982), and provided additional music to the John Barry-scored films, MURPHY’S WAR and THEY MIGHT BE GIANTS.
I had the fortune and honor of working with Ken on two projects, writing the album notes to the premiere soundtrack release of LASSITER and then the recent reissue of his FUNNY THING/FORUM score; both Ken and his wife Linda were warm and wonderful people, modest and agreeable and really a treasure to work with.
“Writing music is an ongoing process,” Thorne told me when I interviewed him last year. “You learn from every single score you produce, when you feel the reactions of the people… It's like throwing yourself to the lions, you write a piece of music and then you presented to a room full of people and you just hope they're going to like it! Fortunately, having spent about 60 years doing that, I've been very, very lucky. I've not had a score thrown out and I've usually left them smiling.”
Read the LA Daily News obituary here
Soundtrack & Music News
Ennio Morricone will receive a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame. The beloved Italian composer is among the 30 honorees to receive a star on the legendary Walk of Fame in 2015. Morricone will be one of roughly a dozen film composers receiving the honor. Previous honorees include Elmer Bernstein, Alfred Newman, Bill Conti, Maurice Jarre, Henry Mancini, Max Steiner, Victor Young, Les Baxter, Ernest Gold, Alan Menken, Randy Newman and Hans Zimmer.
French film composer Alexandre Desplat will preside the main jury of the upcoming 71st Venice Film Festival, marking the first time a musician will head the panel of jurors that gives out the fest’s Golden Lion and other top prizes. Desplat, a six-time Oscar nominee, was praised by Venice artistic director Alberto Barberaas as “not only one of the greatest composers of film scores today but an ardent cinephile, whose extraordinary artistic sensitivity is sustained by a profound knowledge of cinema, of its history, of its language.” Said Desplat in a statement to the media: “It is a great honor and an arduous responsibility to be the president of the jury of such a prestigious Festival. Italian cinema has influenced both my taste and my music more than any other, and I am proud to be coming to the Venice Film Festival the year after Mr. Bernardo Bertolucci.” (Director Bertolucci headed the Venice jury last year).
The nominees for the 66th Primetime Emmy Awards have been announced. These are the music scoring nominees:
Outstanding Music Composition for a Series (Original Dramatic Score):
- Cosmos: A SpaceTime Odyssey – Standing Up in the Milk Way –
Music by Alan Silvestri
- Downton Abbey – Episode 8 – Music by John Lunn
- Game of Thrones – The Mountain and the Viper –
Music by Ramin Djawadi
- House of Cards – Chapter 26 – Music by Jeff Beal
- True Detective – Form and Void – Music by T Bone Burnett
Outstanding Music Composition for a Miniseries, Movie or a Special (Original Dramatic Score):
- American Horror Story: Coven – The Seven Wonders –
Music by James Levine
- Clear History – Music by Ludovic Bource
- Fargo – The Crocodile’s Dilemma – Music by Jeff Russo
- Herblock: The Black and the White – Music by Rob Mathes
- Sherlock: His Last Vow – Music by David Arnold & Michael Price
- The White Queen – The Final Battle – Music by John Lunn
Original Main Title Theme Music:
- Black Sails – Theme by Bear McCreary
- Cosmos: A SpaceTime Odyssey – Theme by Alan Silvestri
- Magic City – Theme by Daniele Luppi
- Sleepy Hollow – Theme by Brian Tyler & Robert Lydecker
- The Spoils of Babylon – Theme by Andrew Feltenstein & John Nau
- via filmmusicreporter.com
The 29th annual ASCAP Film & Television Music Awards was held on June 25 at The Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles. The awards celebration honored the composers and songwriters of the most performed film and television music of 2013. This year the ceremony introduced the Shirley Walker Award, which is bestowed to honor those whose achievements have contributed to the diversity of film and television music (Walker, an ASCAP member, was one of the first prominent female composers working in film and television. She is remembered as a pioneer for women in the film industry.) The inaugural award went to the Emmy Award-winning composing duo Wendy Melvoin and Lisa Coleman (a.k.a. Wendy & Lisa), best known for scoring the TV series HEROES.
ASCAP’s Composers' Choice Award for Best ASCAP Film Score of 2013 to Steven Price for his score from Gravity; and Composers’ Choice Award for Best ASCAP TV Composer of 2013 to Bear McCreary and Dave Porter, who tied for the honor.
For more details, see ascap.com
Read Bear McCreary’s blog about winning the award.
The Awards Ceremony also featured a 6-minute Video Tribute to Shirley Walker. Put together by Jon Burlingame, it features Hans Zimmer and other composers talking about this amazing composer who was taken from us way too soon. Watch the video here.
-via Dan Goldwasser
BIG BAD WOLVES by Frank Ilfman, released by MovieScore Media and Kronos Records, has won “Best Film Score” at the 40th Annual Saturn Awards, presented by The Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films on June 26.
See my review of Ilfman’s score in my January column.
For a video interview with Ilfman about the Saturn Award, see youtube
For more details on the Saturn Awards, see: http://www.saturnawards.org
For those hardy (or hearty) enough to brave the throngs, the lines, the varied, vivid, and vapid cosplay, the coral-reef-like organisms that are comic fans en masse at this year’s Comic-Con in San Diego (July 24-27, 2014) you will want to stand in line (perhaps starting right now) for “The 2nd Annual Musical Anatomy of a Superhero” panel, which assembles from 3-4 PM on July 24th. You will be able to SEE! HEAR! and be DAZZLED! by the super-heroic musical prowess of leading Hollywood composers as they DISCUSS! the process of creating the musical voice behind the superhero, EXPLAIN! the challenges when bringing a comic book character or story to life and writing music to reflect the story line. Panelists, which are slated to include Brian Tyler (AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON, THOR THE DARK WORLD, IRON MAN 3), John Ottman (X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST, X2, FANTASTIC 4: RISE OF THE SILVER SURFER), Graeme Revell (Fox’s GOTHAM, DAREDEVIL, LARA CROFT: TOMB RAIDER), Tyler Bates (GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, 300, WATCHMEN), Blake Neely (CW’s THE FLASH, ARROW) and Christophe Beck (ELEKTRA, EDGE OF TOMORROW, BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER), will show film clips of their work, some from never-before-seen projects. The panel’s objective is “to provide insight on the process of creating a theme, transforming the theme throughout the story line while following the often uphill battle that our heroes travel.” This special event is produced by Costa Communications and will happen in the Indigo Ballroom of the San Diego Convention Center, 111 W. Harbor Dr., San Diego. For general information about Comic-Con, see: http://www.comic-con.org/cci
Christopher Young re-teams with writer/director Scott Derrickson to compose a chilling, riveting score for Screen Gems’ horror-thriller DELIVER US FROM EVIL. Produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and starring Eric Bana and Olivia Munn, the film is based on the real-life account of New York police officer Ralph Sarchie (Bana) investigating a series of cases clouded in paranormal mystery. This is Young’s third collaboration with Derrickson, following THE EXORCISM OF EMILY ROSE and SINISTER.
Noted film composer Chuck Cirino has launched his own royalty free music download service in the wake of a changing production music world. Producers still hire film composers, but Cirino says many are going the alternate route: Royalty Free Downloads. “Listen, click, download and Viola!... You've got a high quality music track, or a collection of tracks ready for your project time line,” says Cirino describing the way Fearless Media Music works. With more than 70 feature films, TV series and web series to his credit Cirino's music continues to enhance visual media around the world. “The Fearless Media Music library is horror, comedy, thriller, action and science fiction music with a retro-cinematic flare. Our music is a departure from the generic tracks you might hear from other stock libraries. The tunes here draw attention to the scene… and that might be exactly what you want.”
For more details, see http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/06/prweb11903573.htm
After the recent controversy over the disqualification of the best song nomination at his year’s Academy Awards ceremony (see my January column), the Academy has revised its Oscar rules somewhat to prevent what it felt was a breach of conduct when composer Bruce Broughton emailed members of the music branch asking them to consider a song he had co-written. A member of the Academy’ Board of Governors, Broughton was aware of the rules, and checked them carefully before he sent his email to ensure he wasn’t violating them. While he found no such restriction existed, the Academy nonetheless felt he was out of line, and when the song in question was nominated, it was quickly disqualified for Broughton’s having “exerted undue influence.” The rules have now been updated to mandate that "Music Branch members may not contact other Music Branch members to promote the nomination of their own song in any way, including via mail, email, telephone or social media account.” It’s curious that the rule pertains only to the Music Branch – giving full license to the dozens of lavish parties, hosted screenings, celebratory events and other intense, behind-the-scenes politicking that regularly occurs to call attention to actors, directors, producers and other branches seeking to gain recognition for an Oscar nomination, as writer Glenn Whipp wrote in the Los Angeles Times online. “We’d like to call it the Broughton Rule because we think the guy deserves something after having his Oscar nom revoked for an action that veteran awards consultant Cynthia Swartz called ‘innocuous.’”
Read Whipp’s full story here
Film composer George Shaw announces that his fanfilm, STAR WARS MUSICAL (Disney Parody) is now available to watch on YouTube here: http://youtu.be/8xzGSSN5FNE. “It's been a dream to create this musical, and I hope you enjoy watching it as much I did creating it, as spending a year and 8 months playing around with my favorite fandom is pretty hard to top,” said Shaw.
See also: http://www.starwarsmusical.com/
Games Music News
Award-winning composer Cris Velasco provides the original score for Relic Entertainment's Company of Heroes™ 2: The Western Front Armies, a game that brings players back to the Western Front first introduced in the original award-winning Company of Heroes™. “Cris Velasco has written an inspired score for Company of Heroes 2: The Western Front Armies,” said Relic Entertainment Audio Lead David Renn. “The theme song, recorded live by the Capellen Orchestra, conveys the tragedy, heroism, and tenacity of the American forces as they fought the resurgent Oberkommando West in the last major offensive against the Allies in 1944. The score perfectly captures the scale and importance of this ferocious battle and evokes those feelings in both the quiet and intense moments of gameplay.”
Velasco's main theme for The Western Front Armies is available for streaming at soundcloud here.
For more information on the composer, see: http://www.monarchaudio.com/
For more information on the game, see: http://www.companyofheroes.com
Randall D. Larson was for many years senior editor for Soundtrack Magazine, publisher of CinemaScore: The Film Music Journal, and a film music columnist for Cinefantastique magazine. A specialist on horror film music, he is the author of Musique Fantastique: A Survey of Film Music in the Fantastic Cinema and Music From the House of Hammer. He has written liner notes for more than 120 soundtrack CDs for such labels as La-La Land, FSM, Perseverance, Silva Screen, Harkit, Quartet, and BSX Records. A largely re-written and expanded Second Edition of Musique Fantastique is being published: the first of this four-book series is now available. See: www.musiquefantastique.com
Special thanks to Benjamin Michael Joffe.
Randall can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org