Retrospect On The Film Retrocausality
It's been just over three years since an old friend Tim Bryant contacted me about working on the score for a short film he was producing. I was immediately onboard with the project as I'd known Tim for years and always wanted to work on some sort of project he was doing. This was a perfect start.
He put me in touch with the film's writer director Ethan Moe and we spoke fairly briefly on what he wanted. He described the film score as needing tension, and to try to keep it ominous. I remember almost having everything I wanted to do in my head before I was done talking with him. I felt like I could easily bring what they were wanting in terms of music.
I was sent an early cut of the movie. I could tell that things would change down the road in terms of editing and composition. I wanted to use the modular synth to create some big synthscapes but, worried that I would have to recall patches to rescore certain parts of the film, I wasn't sure that after I submitted my work I would get asked to change something or rework a part. All I knew is that I had the weekend to write it all and send it in on Monday.
Because of the uncertainty I decided to limit the use of the modular and instead use a Novation Supernova for nearly all the arrangements. I put the film into Logic so that I could have reference to scenes, and in the end I sent the film in with my score "bedded" under the original audio. I started with the first scene with the killer exiting the house slowly realizing what they had done. With the cut I first got this scene was much longer. I decided to use "noise" that slowly swept up louder and louder as the scene progressed; to illustrate the transition to reality for the character. I imagined almost like a tinnitus-like ringing, but the synth drone seemed more horror oriented.
I used the sound to help transition the scene to the main characters. Here I used the Supernova extensively. I played these parts live. It was mostly a slap sounding bass with a trail of delay. I spaced the notes out heavily so that they did not interfere with the scene and dialogue, but kept you aware that there wasn't dead air. I used this for all the character establishing scenes and setups. Once things went to the horror I would bring back in the modular synth using lots of drones with slow filter sweeps.
I finished the whole thing in about four hours on a Saturday. I sent it off and it was well received. I never heard anything back until I was invited for one of the first screenings. There I was able to meet most of the cast and crew. I was also able to meet up with the Anthony Simuel who was leading up the sound department for the film. I'm not sure but I think he was a little worried that I was going to take issue with his editing of my original score as he seemed to bring this up very quickly when we first spoke. I smiled and explained that he can do whatever he thinks is going to make the movie great. I told him that at the time I had no idea how long the scenes would end up being, and no idea if I would get a chance to re-write a scene; so I intentionally over wrote the music thinking that it would be easier to remove something than to have to copy and paste loops or sections. He seemed a bit relieved, but to this day I'm not sure I was just reading him wrong.
I will say that watching what was released versus what I had originally contributed has changed quite a bit. But to be fair they also completely re-shot 95% of the film after I wrote my score. This sort of thing is very common. I'm sure my contribution was still very useful to the film's creators and artists. I mean, I can still hear it! I really wish I could've have had more opportunity to do sound design and more music for the film, but it was a fantastic first project and a great learning lesson
Later on In the beginning of 2020 I was working on scoring another project for a Star Trek TNG Fanfic movie, but it was put on hold per the pandemic. I'd written three or four 2 minute demo's from the scrips and sent it to the film's producer. She seemed to like it, even had notes, but obviously nothing continued.
Below is the trailer as well as the full movie.