Friday, November 25, 2011

Carter Burwell On Scoring Twilight and Breaking Dawn

TRIBECA, MANHATTAN: It was like a scene out of a movie. Film score composer Carter Burwell wrote the final cue to The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn (Part I) at his piano in the country by the flickering light of an oil lamp.

“I was out at my place in Amagansett trying to finish up the score when Hurricane Irene hit and took out my power,” Burwell describes. “And it stayed out for four days. So I ended up writing the ending in this darkened, boarded up house.
Carter Burwell during "Breaking Dawn: Part I"
mixing sessions at The Body Studio, NYC.

“It was interesting and painful at the same time,” he says, with a laugh. “But it worked out.” 

Being forced to compose the old-fashioned way is not as extreme an exercise for Burwell as it might be for another composer; he does write most of his themes at the piano. 

And the storm made a perfectly dark and romantic setting in which to conjure the final scene’s music, where Burwell reprises the soaring “Bella’s Lullaby” theme from the first Twilight, with liturgical sounds. 

Without spoiling the ending, it’s a heavy, most climactic scene.

We met up with Burwell during Breaking Dawn mixing sessions at his studio in Tribeca – by contrast a very well-lit, and highly technical environment. He’d been to record the score with an orchestra at Abbey Road, and was now working through the final stages with his longtime mixer Mike Farrow and his assistant Dean Parker.

He took some time away from the mix to chat with SonicScoop about scoring for Twilight, and scoring in general…

Looking over your filmography, it seems like you haven’t scored a sequel before. You did the first Twilight but not the second and third. Can you tell me about how you came to do Breaking Dawn, the fourth of the Twilight films?

It’s true, I’ve never scored a sequel. But it’s pretty simple – I’ve worked with this director – Bill Condon – before [on Kinsey]. Bill wanted me to do the scores, but he wasn’t sure I would want to because they’re such huge melodramas, and that’s really very different than what I normally do. But he is entirely a pleasure to work with so I definitely wanted to do it.
When I was composing music for the first Twilight, I don’t think any of us knew that it would be that popular… that it would have this cultural resonance. There was such an enormous response. There have been thousands of emails people have written me, wanting to know how to play the themes on piano. And that has been really nice.

Oh that’s really cool – the fans genuinely engaging with the film’s score. Wow. So, in scoring this latest film, did you reprise any of those themes from the first? How did you continue that work you’d done on the first one, or did you not approach it like that at all?

Well, I did to some extent. The intervening two films were directed by different people and composed by different people and they didn’t use any of the musical themes from the first one.
But there’s this one love theme called “Bella’s Lullaby” that was on the Twilight soundtrack album and that’s the one that most people respond to from the first movie. And when I first talked to Bill Condon, he was excited to bring back “Bella’s Lullaby” – so we have brought it back, judiciously. There’s a hint of it here and there, and then in the last scene of this movie, we actually play it out. And it’s pretty dramatic.

Having worked with Bill Condon before, and having scored the first of this insanely successful series…how much actual direction did you get at the start of this project? How does it get started?

Well first we have the spotting session, where – on the one hand – we’re talking technically about where the music starts and ends. But honestly in a movie like this, it turns out that it really never ends. There’s 80 minutes of score in this movie, so the “where it starts and stops” conversation hardly entered into it. Really we spent that time talking about what is the point of this scene? What can the music say? What kind of theme can we use for this? There’s a lot of give and take in a conversation like that.

And for one thing, in a movie like this – there are (especially in the second half) a lot of special effects so when I’m looking at the screen, I won’t necessarily know what’s going on. So I have to depend on the director to say, ‘OK, here there are going to be wolves coming down this hill,’ because I cannot always tell what the important dramatic impact is when there are all these unfinished effects shots.

Mike Farrow and Burwell mixing
"Breaking Dawn: Part I" at The Body Studio
And from there, do you just start working? You have the job, so you’re not exactly pitching music… 

That’s right. As soon as I talked to Bill and we agreed I would do this, I started thinking about themes and melodies. It’s a very different story than the first Twilight. In the first one, you begin in what seems like a normal environment for a high school girl and it becomes supernatural and very intense emotionally.
Here, by this point, there’s no pretense of anything being normal. So you begin in an already a heightened emotional state, with supernatural qualities and it just gets more so…so it’s much more melodramatic. And I knew that I would need a lot more thematic material than I did in the first one. In this movie, Edward and Bella get married. They’re becoming grownups. They face different challenges. The score has to take that into account. And so their music is really pretty different.
I began working as soon as I found out I had the job because I knew that it was a huge job and I wouldn’t have that much time to write all 80 minutes of music.

Did you tap any special musicians to play on this score? I know David Torn played a role on the first Twilight, contributing a lot of that characteristic electric guitar that worked so well. Since you are based in NY, it’s cool to think there’d be some NY influence on the sound of your stuff, just based on who you get to play on it.

Well, I like to think there is. This particular score is not as guitar oriented as the first. And that’s part of the tone that’s shifted from they’re being high-schoolers to them living an adult life. This score has a little more of the flavor of a traditional melodrama in the sense that we went to Abbey Road and recorded it with a larger orchestra than what we had on the first one. We did have, in London, this guitarist Leo Abrahams play on it – and he’s a very interesting guitarist.

Cool. What about the fact that Breaking Dawn is a two-parter? Knowing you’re also going to be scoring Part II, does where the story goes from here enter into the picture at all for you? When you’re thinking of these themes?

Well, I’ve read the script, but I haven’t seen any of Part II yet. But I did have to write a theme that Edward plays on camera in Part II. Bill wanted to echo the “Bella’s Lullaby” scene from the first Twilight in the last part, and so I had to write a lullaby for that well in advance so Rob Pattinson could learn the fingering – he’s a musician and prides himself on being able to do that.
So we know that’s an important part of Part II. And we hint at that theme in Part I. But honestly, it was quite a challenge for me to get my head around the 80 minutes of music for this one. My scores are usually half that. So I didn’t give very much thought to Part II while I was doing Part I.

To read more of Carter's interview (where he talks about his other projects like True Grit) click here:

UK Bel Ami Release Date to be March 2nd 2012?

Robert Pattinson’s next film, Bel Ami, is tipped to hit UK (and Irish) cinema’s on March 2nd 2012. 
Are you all ready for gorgeous Georges DuRoy?

It's about time we got a release date for this!
It's already been just over three months since the trailer was leaked ;)

Are you excited for it? Will you be going to see it in the cinemas?

Video: David Cronenberg talks to Popsugar about Rob and Cosmopolis

Another great interview with David Cronenberg - talking about his newest film 'A Dangerous Method' and then Robert Pattinson and Cosmopolis. 
(Rob talk begins from about 1:50)
It’ll be a while until we see Cosmopolis [ READ: Over a year:( ] but having so many goodies come out to tease us has been exciting!!

Four new Breaking Dawn Wedding Stills!

Awwww! Click for bigger! :)

Getting Married any time soon?
Details on how to buy Bella Swan's dress and shoes!

I don't know about you, but when Bella's dress was unveiled during the Breaking Dawn wedding last week, it took my breath away!
It's too bad that I'm not getting married any time soon, as you can now buy the same dress from Alfred Angelo!
(It's under $999... a bargain, really...)

As seen in Twilight – Breaking Dawn Part 1

Bella’s beautiful bridal gown
Long sleeves with button detail
Cut out back with lace embellishments
Sizes: 0 to 30W

For more information on the dress, click here.

And lets not forget her shoes... oh, how I loved her shoes!!
(and the way she stumbled around in them at the start!)
So, if you have $1,295 lying around, why not buy them?!

Manolo Blahnik Swan Embellished Satin Pump, White
Shoes are never too good to be true. The Manolo Blahnik Swan pump steps out of the silver screen—we couldn’t think of a better “something new” for your big day.

Satin pump features crystal-beaded vine applique angled across vamp and outer side.
Almond toe.
4 1/4″ covered heel.
“Swan” is made in Italy.

For more information on the shoes click here

And lets not forget... 
Caroline Herrera will also be selling a copy of the dress soon, too!

So, if you all will excuse me for a minute, I'm off out to find my Edward!
*starts saving for future-wedding*

Ireland finally gets 'Welcome to the Rileys'!


As of today, Kristen Stewart's "Welcome to the Rileys" is being shown in Dublin's 'Screen Cinema'.
Kristen has already won Best Actress for her role in this... I can't wait to finally see it :)

*Please Note* 

This is an over 18's movie.
If you are under 18, do not look at the trailer or watch the film.