Upon the release this week of my fourth movie, my modernized reinterpretation of the ancient Greek classic “ANTIGONE,” onto the three major transactional Video On Demand platforms, Apple iTunes Films, Google Play Movies, and Amazon Video (nudge, nudge, take a hint), I thought to pay particular tribute to an art form that I believe does not get the full recognition it deserves and which I wish I’d had the resources to obtain when I started making movies. It is the scoring of movies.
Everyone knows at least part of the score of the greatest box office successes of all time, “Star Wars,” especially the bombast of its opening and closing scenes. But the genius of composer John Williams goes beyond those admittedly grandiose scenes. Remember Princess Leia’s theme? Remember Darth Vader’s? I personally cannot hear the notes of either one without immediately recalling the very first time (out of approximately ten thousand) that I watched the original “Star Wars.”
But regrettably the services of a great film composer aren’t easy to obtain. Finding a composer who can hit exactly your cinematic key, no pun intended, is tricky at best. I feel magnificently privileged to have had the services of the brilliant composer Andrew Fly on each of my four distributed movies and to know someone who can practically read my mind about what I need to convey in each scene and to what degree to convey it.
From our first interaction, it was clear that I need merely cite a particular piece of classical music and he’d be able to create something original to evoke what that piece of music did. For instance, for the closing scene of one early work which regrettably did not obtain distribution, I wanted a light expression of relief and gratitude after someone’s terrible ordeal. The music I had in mind even when writing that scene was Yo-Yo Ma’s performance of Tchaikovsky’s “Andante Cantabile.” If you don’t know it, look it up, listen to it, and consider if it evokes just what I sought.
This, the aural art, in addition to the more known ones of acting, lighting, makeup, sound design, and cinematography, can be uplifting. For instance, listen to Eddie Van Halen’s opening chords in “You Really Got Me” or the openings of “Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto One” or “Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana” and you’ll know what I mean. (I assure you, you’ve heard all three of them.) Then, for sheer mischievous fun, put your speaker near a sleeping friend, crank up your device all the way, and let any of these three rip. You will literally uplift the person. Right through the roof! But be prepared to run.