21 February 2008


Lorsqu’Elia CMIRAL s’investit dans un projet, il n’est pas du genre à faire les choses à moitié. Au contraire, il en fait plusieurs en même temps (pas moins de quatre compositions en 2007). Il nous explique aujourd’hui comme il aborde différemment chacune de ses compositions en illustrant ses propos avec deux de ces dernières œuvres pour les films : Tooth & Nail et The Deaths Of Ian Stone.

The Deaths of Ian Stone: Ian meurt dans un accident violent. Pourtant il se réveille le lendemain comme si de rien n'était... avant de mourir à nouveau dans un autre accident tragique. Jour après jour, quoi qu'il fasse, il meurt dans des conditions de plus en plus étranges. Il est prêt à tout pour découvrir qui le manipule et pourquoi...
The Deaths of Ian Stone tells the story of an all-American guy who is murdered each day by horrifying pursuers, only to wake up in slightly different lives to experience the terror of being murdered again. On an otherwise ordinary night, the young Ian Stone encounters a mysterious creature and is forced into the path of an oncoming train. Rather than facing certain death, Ian finds himself reborn into a new life that feels strangely familiar. After his second death, it becomes apparent that Ian is being hunted by an evil presence, and will be forced to die every day until he can solve the mystery of his own life.

Tooth & Nail Un groupe de jeunes, les Foragers, vont devoir se battre contre des cannibales vicieux pour survivre dans un monde post-apocalyptique.
"A group of young people, called Foragers, fight to survive against a band of vicious cannibals, known as Rovers, in a post-apocalyptic world which has been depleted of fossil fuels." It is 2020, and the world has run out of gas. Civilized countries have spiraled into looting and anarchy, and much of the world population has starved to death or killed each other. A small group of misfits known as Foragers take refuge in an empty Philadelphia hospital with plans on re-building society. On a daily foray into the city, they discover a young girl who is the victim of a brutal attack. They bring her back to the hospital, but soon discover that they were followed by a savage band of cannibals known as Rovers. The Rovers begin to kill the Foragers one by one, and the trapped survivors must find a way to outwit their stalkers.. This film explores how without the restraints of civilization, people will regress to their savage beginnings.

Please Elia Cmiral, for the readers of inter-activities, how would you personally introduce yourself?
I am very emotional, organized in my work but less in my life. I am passionate, a perfectionist, and love every detail in my music and my music production. I love reading books at nights, love drama and epic films. Especially, I love to spend time with my wife and my family.

May you tell me about your training and about your background?
I started with guitars, drums and rock & roll. I later received classical training in composition at the Prague Music Conservatory and electronic music and music concrete at EMS in Stockholm, finishing with film music at USC in Los Angeles.

When and how did you come to work on film music?
While very young, I began to write for the theatre for my stepfather. Writing for film came later.

What are your sources of inspiration when you compose some music: styles of music, composers…?
I usually find inspiration in the film I am writing for. It tells me what it needs. In term of writing style, it is again dictated by the movie but also by the taste of the director and the producers.

Do you have any mentor?
I have three mentors. The first one was my stepfather, a stage director for whom I wrote a number of theatre music. My second was professor Benda, who taught me everything about the passion of music. And I must mention John Frankenheimer. To work with him and have the relationship we had was a blessing. I miss all of them every day.

How would you describe or characterize your own musical style?
I am always looking for how to best serve the film. This determines my musical approach to each individual project.

How, when and why did you come on the "The Deaths of Ian Stone" and "Tooth & Nail"projects?
These projects were not connected whatsoever. “The Deaths of Ian Stone” was made by producers with whom I had worked previously. I knew the script and loved it. “Tooth & Nail” was introduced to me by my agent. I love that story a lot.

How would you describe your scores for "The Deaths of Ian Stone" and "Tooth & Nail."?
The scores are very different. "The Deaths of Ian Stone" has a more traditional score, orchestral with some electronic sound design. My score to "Tooth & Nail” is more electronic, ambient and experimental, with some orchestra elements.

With whom and how did you worked with the creators of the movie?
I have a team of people with whom I work all the time. The communication and understanding gets easier with every project we do together. They are all very professional and reliable. And, for example, I need an additional orchestrator or editor, they always come with a good suggestion. In terms of film creators most of the time I work with directors.
For “The Deaths of Ian Stone,” I worked very closely with Italian director Dario Piana and producer Brian Gilbert.
For “Tooth & Nail,” I only worked with director Mark Young. In both productions, they were very supportive and creative. It was a great pleasure to work with them.

What were the requests you got from the crew ?
Come up with an interesting, original score which supports the film and gives it an additional dimension.

What did you see/read/heard about the subject of the film before scoring it in order to inspire you? What is the role of music? How did you treat the horrific aspect of each film?
I read the script for DOI. For T&N, I saw just the directors cut. Again, inspiration comes from each film. In case of T&N, Mark had written the score structure with a very detailed description of every thematic group. I used that as my starting point. The starting point for DOI was the temp track and my conversation with Dario. He is actually a good musician with makes our creative relation very easy.

Did you use a temp track and what kind?
T&N didn’t have any. DOI had temp through most of it but not through all the scenes I later scored. Most of the time, I consider temp as a suggestion, it opens the dialogue between the director and myself.

Did you use electronic sounds along with the orchestra? How and why? How did you mixed electronics and acoustic sounds?
T&N had an interesting approach with electronica. Since in the plot we are in a world without TVs, car, radios or cell phones – a completely silent world -- I wanted to preserve that feel. I created very quiet, ambient score for this world, sometimes using ¼ tone clusters and very low sub sine waves. This world is brutally invaded by cannibals with very rhythmic music using all possible metal sounds, real and synthetic. So on one side you have this organized metal, rhythmic music and on the other very cool, static electronic clusters, hopeless and lifeless. Dakota brings a warm, human, cello solo theme.
The DOI score was written more traditionally and electronica is not a prime color. I used it as just an another color of orchestra. The only important part is the “death theme” three notes motif we hear every time Ian is killed.

What kind of an orchestra and what size did you choose? Can you tell me about the recording?
DOI’s orchestra is about 70 with large string section, a couple of very low and very high woodwinds and low brass. The orchestra was recorded in Prague. Piano and percussion I played myself and electronic programming I did with my assistants.
T&N has only a cello section with cello solo and large electronic programming was done by my programming team and myself.

How would you describe your score?
Each score is different serving the needs of the movie, but because they were created by one person there must be some similar melodic turns, harmonic changes and choices, similar cues structures etc. I think it will apply to any music I write regardless of style.

Can you explain your stylistic and thematic choices?
All stylistic and thematic choices I do intuitively. I never put labels on them or rationalize the process. You come from the prestigious Prague Conservatory of Music, which means that you master all style of music.

Is it a deliberate choice to specialize in Horror film music? And why?
I don’t think I specialize in horror films. I’ve also written scores for other genres including comedy and adventure. I have also written ballets.

What do you think classical music or training can bring to horror film music?
It might help any writing, not only horror music.

Do you think your East-European origins may bring a new color to American horror cinema music? In what way? Do you have examples?
Many great film composers in the early era of scoring had roots in European music like Tiomkin and Korngold. They were respectful musicians and they set a high standard. We should try to keep it.

At a time when horror film music tend to be all electronic, what do you think the combination of electronics and live orchestra can bring to the genre? Did you use other specific instruments, what kind, and what for?
Electronica is just a color extension of orchestra. But it has also own power and energy and it is very suitable to use, especially when building suspense and musical atmosphere. If it is done by someone who understands the movie and how to score it, it can be very interesting and evocative.

For a new project, if you could choose you a genre, a kind of story and a filmmaker, what would they be?
Drama, epic, black comedy, ballet, John Frankeheimer.

What do you want to add as a conclusion, any message for your fans?
I am fortunate to do what I love. I was preparing for this my whole life. I would tell everyone to work hard and pursue their dream, regardless how impossible it seems in the beginning. Thank you to everyone who listen to my music.

Thanks and all my congratulations.
Thank you, too.

BIO : Elia Cmiral's first break came when his father let him score "Cyrano de Bergerac" at his theater when he was just eighteen years old. But before he could build a career in Czechoslovakia, he escaped to Sweden and, to his surprise, was soon asked to score a full-length battle for the National Theater entitled "Nemesis". Deciding to study film scoring in the United States, he moved to Los Angeles in 1987 and enrolled at USC. Through some friends, he had the opportunity to score the cult film "Apartment Zero". In 1989, he was offered a grant from Sweden to produce his own record, and he moved back. Four years later, in the winter of 1993, Elia moved back to Los Angeles and resumed his scoring career. In 1996, Don Johnson hired him to score the first season episodes and theme for his new series, "Nash Bridges " ? on CBS. Elia also scored "Somebody Is Waiting ", with the same director from "Apartment Zero ," but it didn't get any US distribution. His big break came when Michael Sandovall, of MGM/United Artists, gave Elia the opportunity to audition for John Frankenheimer's "Ronin". The score was released on Varese Sarabande to rave reviews, and Elia signed to be represented by "The Gorfaine/Schwartz Agency, " the largest film scoring agency in the world.
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