A Score in a Night
by Tane, Chris and Jeramiah
Once upon a time (a gloomy evening in the middle week of May, 2013) Chris Winter and Jeramiah Ross met up late at night at Mr Winter’s Miramar studio with a mission – to write and record an entire score for a 10 minute short film (David Hay’s “Chloe”) in one session.
They headed out to raid the local supermarket, stocked up on all manner of high carb food, treats and junk and made their way back to the studio via a dodgy Indian restaurant (which unfortunately took its toll on Jeramiah the next day) suitably prepared for an evening of creation.
Tane Upjohn-Beatson arrived to finish up the leftover takeaways, produced a violin, acoustic guitar, auto-harp and other noise making toys, and the team were ready to begin.
After a quick Skype video chat with director David Hay, Jeramiah started the process by setting up on the couch with his cheap PC laptop, working out a theme for the introduction on a virtual piano while Chris sat in the drivers seat, assuming the role of engineer for the session. Tane helped arrange the flow, added violin, and the first cue was complete.
The result was pretty good and has some beautiful overtones with it, so we modified it slightly and put it at the end credits to give the film closure/resolution.
For the next few cues we worked as quickly as we could backwards from the end of the film. Tane and Jeramiah played piano, violin, ride cymbal, as well as hang drums, atmos and other various effects via Kontakt into ProTools live while Chris quickly edited the results into coherency. Chris played a chipper little trumpet line over one of the more upbeat cues, Tane overdubbed violin harmonies, Jeramiah played more piano from the comfort of the couch and by 2am we had recorded well over 90% of the score. We were all pretty tired but pleased with our results by that stage, so decided to finish the final touches and mix the next day with fresh ears.
Tane and Chris reconvened the next day (Jeramiah was laid up in bed thanks to the evils of spicy curry!), laid a couple of eerie pads down and finished up the mix in just over an hour. The total time spent writing and recording was about 7 hours.
The results were sent to director David in the afternoon and he was generally pleased (and very impressed) with the result. As we’d had no input during the writing/recording process, there were a few moments which we didn’t quite interpret as David had envisioned them, so (due to the lack of funds to continue the process with us) he’s going to take what we’ve done, edit and add to it, then let us know how much of our material exists in the final product, after we’ve given the ok.
Throughout the session we all drove the general direction which was a really enjoyable process, it felt very quick and a great way to score films, feeling more real time and reacting to scenes directly.
We all agreed it was a very interesting experience and the process of collaboration was extremely worthwhile (and fun!) for the composers involved.
We’re pleased that this first effort to be associated with the Screen Composers Guild of New Zealand has been a success, even if the final result wasn’t 100% for the director, and would like to thank both the director David Hay for taking a punt on a potentially risky venture and the guild for making a project like this a very real possibility.