A few years ago, I was given the somewhat unpredictable task of writing music for the lavish short film The Man Inside. The director and actors worked in Dublin and the producer was in London while I was sitting in my studio in Skåne, without ever meeting any of them.
It did not start very well. I received via email a short summary of the document: a man is going to work but breaks the key in the lock and gets locked in his penthouse. No one can help him out so he has to become self-sufficient there. He lives on rainwater, tomato cultivation and pigeon wall, type. The years go by and finally, when he has gotten very old, the lock rusts, but then the world outside has changed so much that he decides to stay in his little world and not go out. About 15 minutes of film, the music should carry the plot forward. Slightly surreal atmosphere.
Okay. I already had one that I found suggestive piece that I sent, to start at some end. All wrong. Director Rory thought it was too gloomy and told me about some light-hearted, jazzy Bach scars he used as a test when he auditioned the film. I quickly knotted something in the same style and vips everything was on track again. Then I got a detailed cue-sheet with information about exactly where there would be music and approximate mood for each scene. After further emailing back and forth, it all started to grow.
The most difficult part was when it first dawns on the main character Lisandro (Martin Rea) that he is stuck in the apartment and the subsequent, sliding transition to several decades later, when he lives in relative prosperity with all sorts of clever constructions. It was really important to follow exactly the drama and dramaturgy of the sequence and it took a while to tune it in, especially since the director cut the stage several times during the work.
In the pre-production, software lines were used, but I absolutely wanted genuine goods in the final product. Film music is sensitive things. This placed demands on the violinist who, by order in Malmö, was allowed to do all four string parts. In addition to notes and my demo as support, he also got to have the raw film in front of him during the filming. At that stage, I hoped the critical scenes were finished, but not. I had to use advanced time stretch (Time Factory) to adjust the strokes afterwards.
Producer Lucy in London later became so fond of the soft-jazz main theme that she wanted it on notes. The film itself won several fine awards at various festivals, including ECU – European Independent Film Festival in Paris, where it was named best short film drama of the year. Cool.
More film music next week!