Jill Gevargizian (INTERVIEW)
If you could claim any cinematic soundtrack what would it be?
Oh, boy. That's a good question. You know, I can tell you, I do have that reaction sometimes, where I see a movie and hear a score and think, "I wish I'd done that." I'd have to say that one of my top ones would be the movie, MICHAEL CLAYTON, of all things. Which is James Newton Howard, whose incredible. I've actually worked with him a couple of times. He's incredibly talented and a completely skilled at conventional orchestration. The movie MICHAEL CLAYTON, I was very surprised to find out that that was one of his scores because it's very contemporary and almost electronic sounding and it doesn't follow the action so much.
It doesn't stop and start and it doesn't hit or sting items on the screen. It just creates this wonderful tension-filled mood that reinforces the tension in the story. I often refer back to that score when I am in need of minimalist inspiration, because it's exceedingly minimal but still contains enough calories and wattage pointed in the right direction to absolutely make that movie stand out, for me anyway. It's also widely regarded by other film composers as a true work of genius despite being so simplistic. Often minimalism and simplicity in the music is a lot harder than it looks. That's an example of someone who pulled it off perfectly.
I imagine, it's a really underrated choice. I like that, as you say it's the work and its simplicity, and it's probably one of those things that you don't necessarily think for a normal moviegoer it doesn't stand out, but without the soundtrack, I'm certain that MICHAEL CLAYTON kind of wouldn't work.
It could have been a very different movie with different, or no score on it. Another one that I love and a movie that I love and recommend to people is a little known espionage thriller called THE INTERNATIONAL, which starred Clive Owen and Naomi Watts and had a great score by Reinhold Hal, Johnny Klimek, and collaborating with the director, Tom Tykwer. The score that they did hearkens back to the sort of classic 70s espionage thrillers like Three Days of the Condor or whatever. That's another movie.
The score is not electronic, it's mostly organic and has pianos and strings and drums but there are some amazing cues that are very minimal but somehow still forceful. I remember seeing that movie and thinking, "This is great." Of course movies like MICHAEL CLAYTON and THE INTERNATIONAL don't exactly set the world on fire. They're not summer blockbusters by any means but I think both of those are examples of supremely talented people at the top of their game just absolutely killing it. Both of those are scores that after I heard them, I thought, "I wish I'd done that one."
They're certainly great choices. Is there any particular director you would like to have the chance to work with?
I must say, I'm a bit jealous of I believe it's Jóhann Jóhannsson, who works with Dennis Villeneuve, he's a fantastic director, I've liked all the movies I've seen of his.
I missed a lot of his earlier work, but the first movie I saw that he did was a movie PRISONERS, with Hugh Jackman and Terrence Howard and after seeing that movie, I remarked to my agent, I was like, "Wow, it had this great score," that was very, again minimalist, and you couldn't tell if it was electronic or organic, but just murky and dark and scary but great.
Yeah, that score was Jóhann Jóhannsson and my agent of course said, "Oh yeah that director always works with the same composer and the two of them are just killing it." Then later he did SICARIO, which I thought was great and again Jóhann Jóhannsson on the score, and fantastic, grinding sounds that were made with the orchestra. Just a very unusual, but effective minimalist approach.
I guess then he just finished THE ARRIVAL, that alien invasion movie which is coming out soon, and reportedly is directing the BLADE RUNNER sequel. That's a guy that's got some great stuff in his pocket. Again, those type of movies that he's done are generally my favourite types of things. Tension filled thrillers and sci-fi. Those are my favourite genres to watch and would be my favourite kind of direction to move into in projects that I get to work on. I know there's no hope of prying Dennis and Jóhannsson apart, so I would not hold out hope that I will ever score one of his movies. I'll just watch them and enjoy them.
Stranger things have happened. Certainly some good choices. Really underrated films, especially PRISONERS and SICARIO, was a fantastic hit last year. So what's next for you? Are you looking to score anything else, or are you going back into the music industry?
I actually finished THE NEIGHBOUR in about February, and then did ten episodes for the second season for the series WAYWARD PINES, which came out of M. Night Shyamalan's world. I had done the first ten episode season last year and so it came back for another round, and that was some brutal deadlines were involved on this second season, but that one is just in the can.
I did just hear some exploratory phone calls about the possibility of Saw coming back for another round. Most of the SAW movies, we were on such a rapid refresh, almost a treadmill, getting one of those movies into the theatres every Halloween for seven straight years that it was always just a massive hurry that I would usually get to start on the score in August and have to be done in six weeks or less.
I did the first one I think in five weeks, while there was other things going on at my studio. I was kind of in the back room choking that one out. Hopefully, with this reinvention and/or reboot of the franchise, I will have plenty of lead-time and won't have to just rush through it at the last minute. If it does happen, that will be my plan, it to begin writing as they begin shooting or before, so that I can start reinventing the sonic footprint of that world, and not have to be just cramming it all into the last few weeks of the production. I'm looking forward to that, if the rumours are true.
That's fantastic, I certainly look forward to the return of a great franchise, there's enough left.
The Neighbour will premiere at Horror Channel FrightFest 2016 on Sunday 28th August.