Category Archives: Interview

Danny Elfman talks Fifty Shades of Grey (2015)

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Danny Elfman talks Fifty Shades of Grey (2015)

Let me just start by saying that I am not a fan of the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy; not the books or the movies. I don’t like the concept behind the story (did you know this started as Twilight fanfiction?) and it just…*shudders* it doesn’t sit well with me.

That being said…my ears perked up with interest when I discovered that Danny Elfman wrote the score for Fifty Shades of Grey (and he has also scored Fifty Shades Darker). I have been a fan of Elfman’s work ever since I first heard the music for Batman (1989) and I was surprised to hear that he is working on this film trilogy. Elfman isn’t the first composer I would think of when it comes to dark romantic films, but to each his own.

I can’t recommend this film, but it was interesting to briefly hear Elfman’s thoughts on how he put the important musical themes together for this story.

Now I have to ask, for those of you who may have seen Fifty Shades of Grey, did you like it at all? Was it worth seeing? I would love to hear your comments on this film, so let me know in the comments below 🙂

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See also:

Film Composer Interviews A-H

Film Composer Interviews K-Z

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Brian Tyler talks War (2007)

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Brian Tyler talks War (2007)

War is a film that I have not seen but I’m sure I would like, given that it stars Jet Li and Jason Statham. The film is the directorial debut of Philip G. Atwell and tells the story of FBI agent John Crawford (Statham) who becomes obsessed with hunting down an assassin named Rogue (Li) after he brutally murders his partner. But, as it turns out, the story isn’t nearly as straightforward as it seems, there are some mind-blowing twists involved.

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Unbelievably, it comes out that the assassin Crawford has been hunting down is none other than his supposed-to-be-dead partner! It turns out that after being supposedly killed, he tracked down and murdered the real Rogue in order to work his way into the Yakuza to find out who ordered the assassin to take out his family. But there’s another twist: it comes out that Crawford is the one responsible for giving out his partner’s address to Rogue (albeit under heavy duress) because he’s been in the Yakuza’s pocket for quite some time. Talk about twists upon twists!

The film was produced under the working title of  Rogue (named for Jet Li’s character) but it was changed to avoid conflicting with an Australian horror film of the same name that was released the same year.

In the interview (which can be accessed in the link above), Tyler explains that he was approached to work on War after the premiere of The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006), and after watching some footage from the film-in-progress, he begged for the chance to score the film. Additional music for the film was provided by RZA, Mark Batson and Machines of Loving Grace.

A major element of the story involves the Chinese Triad going to war with the Japanese Yakuza. As a result, Tyler created a musical blend using Chinese and Japanese instruments against one another to symbolize the growing conflict between the two groups.

I have to say, looking at Brian Tyler’s work has given me a completely new appreciation for action films and their music. A lot of people write off action films as being “mindless” or somehow “less than” bigger dramatic films, but I think action films can be just as good as any other film genre if they’re done properly.

It was really exciting learning how Brian Tyler created the score for War and I hope you enjoy the interview too.

You can become a patron of the blog at patreon.com/musicgamer460

Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

See also:

Film Composer Interviews A-H

Film Composer Interviews K-Z

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Michael Giacchino talks Super 8 (2011)

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Michael Giacchino talks Super 8 (2011)

What do you get when J.J. Abrams and Steven Spielberg collaborate together on a film? In the case of Super 8, we got a science-fiction thriller film about a strange alien invading a town in Ohio while a group of kids are shooting a movie on Super 8 film. The film did well (despite some comparisons to E.T.), though I didn’t watch it myself (I was distracted by graduating from college at the time). As with all J.J. Abrams films (except for The Force Awakens), the score was composed by Michael Giacchino, who talks with us in the behind-the-scenes clip for the making of the score of Super 8.

What’s cool about this clip is that we get to hear Giacchino talking about his memories of shooting home movies on Super 8 film back in the day, and we even get to see a few clips from said films.

It’s always great to listen to Michael Giacchino discussing his work, and I hope you enjoy his talk about Super 8.

I know this is shorter than what I usually do, but I’m still recovering from a really busy weekend and I really wanted to give you something to enjoy until tomorrow 🙂

And speaking of…Disturbing Disney returns tomorrow with my first entry from Bambi (1942), a film that pioneered the “horrifying death of a parent” decades before The Lion King ripped our hearts out with the death of Mufasa.

Also, I wanted to share that Film Music Central has gained 2,000+ hits in a month for the first time ever and I wanted to say thank you to everyone who comes to visit the blog, this is a milestone I’ve been hoping to hit for a long time 🙂

See also:

Film Composer Interviews A-H

Film Composer Interviews K-Z

You can become a patron of the blog at patreon.com/musicgamer460

Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook 🙂

Hans Zimmer talks Hannibal (2001)

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Hans Zimmer talks Hannibal (2001)

Sequels are always a risky business; no matter how successful the original, there’s always the chance that a follow-up story will fall totally flat and ruin the story forever. Thankfully, such was not the case with Hannibal (2001), the follow-up to The Silence of the Lambs (1991). Set ten years after the original story, Clarice Starling (now played by Julianne Moore) must locate Hannibal Lecter before a surviving victim (played brilliantly by Gary Oldman) tracks down the serial killer to exact his gruesome revenge. While it’s true that this film was met with mixed reviews by the critics, I found Hannibal to be a very thrilling story, especially the last third. Anthony Hopkins is such a compelling presence when he’s onscreen, and he plays the role with so many layers that you can watch the film multiple times and see a new interpretation each time.

Of course the film wouldn’t be nearly as good without its musical score, which was composed by Hans Zimmer. In this wonderful interview, both Zimmer and director Ridley Scott talk about the music and how it came together. Scott believes that the music is just as important as the dialogue and so the score is crafted accordingly. Hannibal marked the fourth time that the director and composer collaborated on the same project, and you can tell that they’ve developed a good working relationship with each other.

Zimmer describes Hannibal as a “haunting story” and that the music must be haunting as well to match it, and I believe he totally succeeded in accomplishing this. One thing about Hannibal (the character) that always fascinated me is his love of the classical, be it art, poetry or music. The score reflects this to a large degree, as Hans Zimmer wrote several choral pieces in an early classical style for certain scenes involving the titular character. It was amazing to learn about the score for this haunting film, and I hope you enjoy it as well.

You can become a patron of the blog at patreon.com/musicgamer460

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See also:

Film Composer Interviews A-H

Film Composer Interviews K-Z

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook 🙂

Michael Giacchino talks Zootopia (2016)

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Michael Giacchino talks Zootopia (2016)

While I am still profoundly irked that Zootopia beat out Kubo and the Two Strings for Best Animated Feature at the Oscars, I cannot deny that the film has a pretty good musical score.

Composed by the talented Michael Giacchino, the music of Zootopia features a world-music vibe to cover the vast array of species (and ways of life) highlighted in the story.

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If you haven’t seen Zootopia, the film follows bunny Judy Hopps as she becomes the first rabbit on the Zootopia police force, in a city where (in theory) any animal can become anything they want to be, regardless of whether they are considered “hunter” or “prey” species. This notion is tested when Judy is put on a (seemingly hopeless) case that she must solve in a very short time or lose her job, and to complicate matters, she must work with a fox.

In this behind the scenes clip, Giacchino takes us to the recording studio and introduces five percussionists who helped create Zootopia’s unique sound.

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While the main orchestra is best recognized in any film score, often the percussion is overlooked (or worse, lost in the sound mix), so it’s great to see not only how they used percussion instruments in the score, but also how the percussion ties everything together at key moments.

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My thanks to Michael Giacchino for giving us this inside look into part of the scoring process for Zootopia, which really is a great film despite my grumblings. I hope you enjoy the video and if you haven’t tried Zootopia before, please take a chance and check it out 🙂

See also:

Film Composer Interviews A-H

Film Composer Interviews K-Z

You can become a patron of the blog at patreon.com/musicgamer460

Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook 🙂

John Debney scoring Predators (2010)

*the links in this post contain affiliate links and I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my link.

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John Debney scoring Predators (2010)

In an age where sequels are being made left and right, it surprised no one when, after a gap of 20 years, a third installment of the Predator franchise was released. Predators (unlike the previous two installments) takes place on an alien planet and follows a group of mercenaries and other “undesirables” that have been abducted and taken to this planet, which we learn serves as a game preserve for the Predator civilization. The group, including Royce (Adrien Brody) and Isabelle (Alice Braga) must evade a group of hunters while also trying to find a way off the planet to get home.

The total group consists of:

  • Royce- ex-Special Forces turned mercenary
  • Isabelle- sniper from Israeli Defense Forces
  • Cuchillo- a Mexican drug cartel enforcer
  • Nikolai- a Spetsnaz soldier
  • Mombasa- a soldier in the Revolutionary United Front
  • Stans- a death row inmate from San Quentin
  • Hanzo- a Yakuza enforcer
  • Edwin- a general practice doctor

Of the entire group, it is Edwin who sticks out, as he is the only member of the group who does not seem to be a lethal killer. Appearances are deceiving however, and it eventually comes out that Edwin is actually a psychopathic murderer (apparently very comfortable with poisons) who feels “right at home” on this alien planet filled with “monsters.”

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Most of the story centers around the plan of freeing a trapped Predator (who is being held prisoner by a rival clan of larger Predators) in the hopes that it will use his ship to take them back to Earth. Unfortunately, not only are Royce and Isabelle the lone human survivors (so far as we know), but the ship self-destructs, leaving the pair stranded on the alien planet for the time being.

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The film was released with mixed to positive reviews, with some saying the sequel finally hit the mark set by the original film and others saying it still lacks the quiet suspense that made the first film so good.

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The score was composed by John Debney, although it was briefly speculated that Alan Silvestri would return to the franchise (having scored Predator and Predator 2). The clip I found is from a scoring session for the film and provides a tantalizing glimpse of the recording process. The one thing that will always amaze me about film music is how many details you can hear when the dialogue and sound effects are removed from the mix. Hearing this brief excerpt of music makes me wish I’d seen this film when it was released (it’s been on my “to watch” list for the last seven years).

Have you seen Predators? Did you think it was worth seeing? Let me know in the comments below, and I hope you enjoy watching this brief excerpt from the scoring session for the film.

See also:

Film Composer Interviews A-H

Film Composer Interviews K-Z

You can become a patron of the blog at patreon.com/musicgamer460

Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook 🙂

John Debney talks The Scorpion King (2002)

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John Debney talks The Scorpion King (2002)

Let’s face it: you either love The Scorpion King or you absolutely hate it, there is no middle ground.

This spin-off of The Mummy Returns is set 5,000 years before the original Mummy films and tells the story of how Mathayus (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in his first film as a leading man) rose to power as the “Scorpion King.” Mathayus is initially part of a small group of Akkadians contracted by King Pheron to kill a sorcerer working for a tyrannical king named Memnon (she has been using her powers of foresight to predict the outcomes of battles, making Memnon unstoppable). They are betrayed by Pheron’s son Takmet (who murdered his own father and joined Memnon after they left on their mission) but Mathayus is still able to reach the sorcerer’s tent…only to find that it’s actually a beautiful sorceress named Cassandra.

Mathayus hesitates long enough to be captured and after his companions are killed, he is left to die a slow agonizing death buried up to his neck in the desert. Thereafter, Mathayus seeks vengeance on Memnon for killing his companions (one of whom was his half-brother) and also information from the sorceress (for example, why she persuaded Memnon to not kill him on the spot as he did the others).

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Along the way, Mathayus meets various allies, including the Nubian king Balthazar (who initially does not like Mathayus because he despises Akkadians). When Cassandra returns to Memnon after being with Mathayus for some time, the latter organizes an all-out assault on Memnon’s stronghold Gomorrah to save Cassandra and kill Memnon once and for all.

The orchestral score for this film was composed by John Debney; this music was mixed in with various rock songs (the latter are what appear on the soundtrack album for the film). In the extended “making of the score” video which you can access in the link above, there are numerous shots of the orchestra in the recording studio with the in-progress film playing on a large screen for the conductor’s reference. As I’ve said before, this is the stage of film music production that I love the best, and I hope to witness it in person one day.

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Debney (and the film’s director) discuss how various parts of the score came together, including the overall sound of the music. Since this is meant to take place long before any recorded history, Debney did not want to invoke one culture above another, but instead wanted to create a sense of something new and unfamiliar. The director also discussed including a touch of rock music, and thus giving the film something of a more contemporary feel in certain places. This is really one of the better interviews I’ve found for the making of a film score and even if you’ve never seen The Scorpion King, I really think you will enjoy it.

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Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

See also:

Film Composer Interviews A-H

Film Composer Interviews K-Z

See also:

John Debney (and Tom Morello) talk Iron Man 2 (2010)

John Debney scoring Predators (2010)

John Debney talks The Passion of the Christ (2004)

John Debney talks The Jungle Book (2016)

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