02 October 2007

Resident Evil: Extinction, interview with Charlie CLOUSER by Christine BLANC

Le virus expérimental mis au point par la toute-puissante Umbrella Corporation a détruit l'humanité, transformant la population du monde en zombies avides de chair humaine. Fuyant les villes, Carlos, L.J., Claire, K-Mart, Nurse Betty et quelques survivants ont pris la route dans un convoi armé, espérant retrouver d'autres humains non infectés et gagner l'Alaska, leur dernier espoir d'une terre préservée. Ils sont accompagnés dans l'ombre par Alice, une jeune femme sur laquelle Umbrella a mené autrefois de terribles expériences biogéniques qui, en modifiant son ADN, lui ont apporté des capacités surhumaines. Depuis le laboratoire d'Umbrella, le Dr. Isaacs les surveille. Il est prêt à tout pour retrouver celle qui représente l'accomplissement ultime des recherches de la firme, la seule personne qui rende possible la mise au point d'un remède : Alice. S'ils veulent avoir une chance, les survivants doivent échapper à la fois aux morts-vivants qui infestent le pays et à Umbrella Corporation. Pour Alice et ses compagnons d'infortune, le combat ne fait que commencer...

Dans ce troisième opus de la saga Resident Evil, l'humanité est en voie d' "Extinction", c'est bien le contraire qui se passe pour le talent de Charlie CLOUSER. Le compositeur de la trilogie SAW explose littéralement tant il accumule projets et succès! Pour preuve cette partition pour le moins percusive de Resident Evil: Extinction, dans laquelle on retrouve avec plaisir la patte de l'ancien musicien des Nine Inch Nails, atteignant aujourd'hui de nouveaux horizons.
How and why did you come to film music?
In the eighties, before my years in Nine Inch Nails, I had worked with a composer named Cameron Allan, doing programming and such on his scores for the final season of the CBS series "The Equalizer", as well as on a few TV movie-of-the-week projects. Since the music was totally electronic, instrumental, and fairly ambient and experimental, I felt it was a good fit for my talents and interests. I started doing films with SAW, and James Wan and I hooked up partly because he had used a bit of nine inch nails in his temp track, and when he found out that an ex-nail was getting into scoring, we found each other pretty quickly.

Do you have any mentor? Are you inspired by a composer in particular?
Well, I certainly learned a lot about this from Cameron Allan when we were doing TV, who has a pretty unusual take on things, and my interests are pretty scattershot when it comes to music. I tend to like certain scores more than certain composers... what floors me is when the combination of the music, story, acting, editing, and all of that stuff just CLICKS into place and puts the viewer somewhere they'd never go just by listening to the music or watching the picture alone. So I tend to like specific moments in composer's resumes... Daniel Lanois' score for "Sling Blade", Brad Fidel's "T2" score... but recently I have heard a lot of things I like.... John Powell seems to have a cool mix of programming and orchestral stuff, Marco Beltrami's "I, Robot" and "T3" scores were simple, direct, and very effective, and of course Harry Gregson-Williams sprays interesting things around all of the films he does.
How do you choose a project to work on?
I tend to gravitate towards things that will give me a balance between things I know how to do, and things that are going to be a challenge. For instance, James Wan's last film, Death Sentence, had a lot of cues that I pretty much knew what to do, like the drum-solo beat-downs or electronic chase grooves, but it also had a bunch of emotional cues, which were actually temped with songs, and so that was a bit more of a mountain to climb to get right. In the end, those cues were some of the best ones in the film, and although they had very few elements, they were a pain to get right because they were so delicate and fiddly. These are the cues that felt like I was learning something by getting them right... if it was all just super-violent beat-downs and electronic dirge grooves, I think I'd start to get bored.
How did you come on Resident Evil Extinction?
With only five weeks until the final dub, I came on kind of later than I would have liked to, and I had to hit the ground running!

What direction were you given from the producers and director?
Well, at the first spotting session, everyone was saying, "Disregard this temp track, we don't really like this..." and "We really don't like the big, melodic themes, but we DO want a big, slamming, Hollywood sound...", so I had to come up with a game plan right on the spot, which we hashed out in conversation right then and there.

Can you explain your stylistic and thematic choices?
As much as I loved the Beltrami and Manson score to the first film in the series, I thought that their synth-and-drum-machine industrial darkness really sounded like it worked best when the action was underground, in the tunnels of Raccoon City, and there are not many scenes like that in this film; most of it takes place in broad daylight in the desert. So, I thought that we'd need more "outdoorsy" sounds, acoustic instead of electronic, and so I assembled a percussion kit of metal junk, rototoms, and other "brash" sounding drums, and used that for all the drum attacks, instead of more programmed, electronic sounds. In those few scenes where we do travel underground, the sound of the all the instruments change to more of an electronic, dark, and claustrophobic sound. It's a little hard to hear but in those scenes where we take the elevator down into the tunnels, a sort of electronic curtain descends on the sound and follows us around Raccoon City.


What are the similarities and the differences between the composing from TV and composing for film?
With a show like "NUMB3RS", I actually treat it just as I would a short, action-packed feature, but I do take advantage of the repetitive, episodic nature of the series as time goes by, by reusing certain signature sounds from week to week. When I scored the pilot, I did a full-strength production, with the full complement of massive drum beat-downs and scary sounds made just for that project. As the series went on, we'd add more and more of these full-strength cues to the pile, and certain ones then became signature methods of identifying a given place, such as the FBI headquarters or the main character's homes, and we could then refine and reuse these cues, making each week's version a little different and a little better. We developed favorite ways of exiting to a commercial, or ending the show on a warm, homey note, and these became templates that the editors could cut picture against. On a film project, aside from a main theme that may appear two or three times in various forms, it's very rare if I can use something more than once in a project. In the film "Death Sentence" I was able to base five or six cues on the same piece of music, but that was fairly unusual for me.

How much time did you have to compose an episode, and how would you describe your music for NUMB3ERS and LAS VEGAS ?
We usually have the luxury of an entire week to come up with 30-40 minutes of score for each show. "Las Vegas" averages about 30 minutes of score per episode, and "NUMB3RS" is basically wallpapered with music, so for me it's usually 40 minutes of score per episode, for a grand total of at least an hour of score a week. The score for "Las Vegas" is like a japanese-texmex-scandinavian-luau, just completely all over the map. One minute it's splashy, fun casino jams with crazy horns and turntable fx, the next it's legit-sounding slinky pink-panther jazz, the next it's full-darkness suspense and action cues, and then there's just a ton of goofball comedy moments, little bumper cues, and of course someone's heart gets broken in every episode, so there's always a solo piano tearjerker or two. It's been great experience though, sort of a musical bootcamp, attacking all of these different problems every week. The score for "NUMB3RS" has a much more unified sound, but we've developed stylistic flavors that are each associated with a particular place, activity, or mode the show goes through each week. There's still a pretty wide range of styles, from awkward doofus comedy to hostage-drama takedowns, but I try to make the sounds, tones, and keys much more unified than in a wacko smorgasbord like "Las Vegas".

What would you really like to do next?
I don't want to get stuck doing ultra-violence, even though it's good clean fun, so I'm becoming more attracted to projects that I might not know what to do right off the bat, things that are a little outside my background. I mentioned "Sling Blade" before, that's a perfect example of the type of film that I am itching to do, something that would take a bit of figuring out, something that needs a bit of a lighter touch.
1. Main Title
2. Stupid Crazy
3. I'm So Sick [T-Virus Remix]
4. My World
5. Duality [Project Alice String Remix]
6. Losing
7. One Love [Extinction Remix]
8. Deathcar
9. I, Suicide
10. White Rabbit [SPC Eco Mix]
11. Paralyzed
12. Laser Tunnel
13. Asleep on the Frontlines [Appliantz Remix]
14. Catch Me
15. Contagious
16. Scenotaph [Dja Infected Remix]
17. Sixth of June
18. Wrecking Itself Taking You with Me
19. Convoy

Special Thanks to Jane LAMB ;-)

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