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Archive for May, 2008

Scoring Sessions: Mark Snow scores The X-Files: I Want to Believe

Mark Snow scores The X-Files: I Want to Believe
Dan Goldwasser

[Original article here]

This week at the Newman Scoring Stage at 20th Century Fox, composer Mark Snow returned the franchise that gave him six Emmy nominations when he scored The X-Files: I Want to Believe, the new feature film based on the cult television show that became a phenomenon.

Details on the session and the music remain a mystery, but we can tell you that Pete Anthony conducted the Hollywood Studio Symphony, and in the booth scoring mixer Alan Meyerson was at the console along with composer Mark Snow and orchestrator Jonathan Sacks.

The X-Files: I Want to Believe will be released on July 25, 2008.

Special thanks to Ray Costa for the photographs!

1. Pete Anthony conducts the Hollywood Studio Symphony
2. Composer Mark Snow and scoring mixer Alan Meyerson
3. The mixing console at the Newman Scoring Stage at Fox
4. The bass section
5. Orchestrator Jonathan Sacks, composer Mark Snow and scoring mixer Alan Meyerson
6. Pete Anthony conducts The X-Files: I Want to Believe

Soundtrax: X-Files Revisited

Soundtrax: Episode 2008-11
X-Files Revisited
Randall D. Larson

[Original article here]

This week we talk with Mark Snow about his music for the new X-Files movie and get a small glimpse at what a massive score this is going to be.  He also discusses scoring The Ghost Whisperer and his sublime score for legendary French director Alain Resnais’s Private Fears in Public Places.  We kick of the Summer with reviews of the soundtracks for Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, Speed Racer, The Strangers, and Dragonlance: Dragons of Autumn Twilight, fine scores all.  And, as usual, the latest film music news is gathered from the seven seas.

Mark Snow

Interview: Mark Snow on X-Files: I Want To Believe

Mark Snow is best known for his many seasons of music scoring for TV’s The X-Files and Millennium, although his work has encompassed many more series (including the popular shows Smallville and The Ghost Whisperer) and made-for-television movies as well as a handful of feature films (including the recent Award winning drama from legendary French director Alain Resnais, Private Fears in for Public Places, aka Coeurs (Hearts) – quite a significant coup for an American television composer, and one that earned him a César Award nomination [the main national film award in France] for best score.  Snow’s many musical scores for American television and films have also garnered him numerous Emmy nominations and ASCAP awards. In 2006, he became the first composer to receive ASCAP’s prestigious Golden Note Award for lifetime achievement and impact on music culture.  Mark Snow’s iconic X-Files theme remains a worldwide phenomenon.  

Snow is now poised to regain that recognition as the new X-Files movie, The X-Files: I Want To Believe, preps for release on July 25th.  Snow scored the show’s first feature film, The X-Files: Fight the Future (1998), with a massive orchestral score that took the show’s central thematic material and expanded it to fit the sonic scope of the big screen, and his music for the new film promises to raise the bar even higher.  Interviewed last week while in the midst of completing the new score, Mark Snow describes his music for the further adventures of agents Mulder and Scully, along with his other recent work.

Q: So how far along are you with the new X-Files movie?

Mark Snow:  Half way done.

Q: What can you tell me about this score? 

Mark Snow:  We’re using a gigantic orchestra with no trumpets or high woodwinds.  It’s tons of brass, big strings, and a few low bass clarinets, contrabassoon.  Plus we have another orchestra doing effects stuff on top of it – no music, just musical effects like [imitates an orchestral effect] “haaiii-pnnnnnn…”, that lay in at certain points.  I’ve also got a genius sample percussion guy who’s adding on to that, plus my own atmospheric stuff there, so the music is made up of these four elements.  I’ve been lucky enough to get Alan Meyerson as the music mixer – he’s the engineer who does Hans Zimmer’s stuff and who is a technical genius.   He is probably one of the few guys who can pull this off.  We’ve got assistants among assistants – he’s got his crew, I’ve got a couple of guys just helping me, sending MIDI files, getting these things out to the copyist.    

Q: The first X-Files movie expanded the music you were doing the TV series and gave it a huge widescreen scope.  It sounds like this new score will be doing that yet again, intensifying what you had in the first X-Files movie by yet another several degrees.

Mark Snow:  But it’s very different.  This movie is not along the lines of the mythology story of The X-Files, with the government conspiracy and aliens and flying saucers.  We’re all sworn to secrecy and death if we talk about the story, but I can tell you that there aren’t any aliens in this movie.  It’s much more of a standalone episode, and so the music is not like the last one.  Actually there is one cue from the first movie that the music editor tracked in, and it worked great, but that’s it.

Q: Will there be recognizable material such as The X-Files theme, beyond the opening title?

Mark Snow:  Yeah.  If you’re a musician you’ll hear that in the orchestra parts from time to time.  Not blatant, but nice and subtle.

Q: What’s central to the score, musically?  Where does the score hang its hat on?

Mark Snow:  It’s just dark.  Deep and pulsating.  On the other hand there are two really beautiful melodic themes.  One is sort of like the Gabriel Fauré Requiem, that kind of thing.  I am using boy soprano live, and then a counter tenor, which is a male voice that sounds like a woman’s.

Q: How much music is this score going to take?

Mark Snow:   Tons!  Maybe 70 minutes.

Q: What was it like revisiting, or returning to The X-Files after several years hiatus?

Mark Snow:  Like fitting into a great pair of old shoes. 

Q: Any plans yet for a soundtrack album?

Mark Snow:  Yes, on the Decca label.

Q: Meanwhile, you’re still doing Smallville and The Ghost Whisperer…?

Mark Snow:  The seasons have both ended, so I’m not doing either of them right now.  I won’t be coming back on Smallville, it’s just been way too much.  I will come back next season to do Ghost Whisperer.

Q: You worked on Smallville for seven seasons.  How has the music or its needs changed, evolved, or developed throughout that run?

Mark Snow:  Not a bit!  It was: ‘Pilot: John Williams.’  ‘Yes sir.  Done!’  ‘Thanks, bye!’ 

Q: So it was more maintaining the heroic concept and the mythology than progressing through specific changes…

Mark Snow:  That’s right, exactly.

Q: I’ve been enjoying your music for The Ghost Whisperer, a neat mixture of ghosts and character drama with very good writing, excellent performances, and of course a compelling musical underscore.

Mark Snow:  The thing that they really want in the music is a real emotional quality.   So that’s been a combination of spooky, emotional, and mysterious.  

Q: Even though it comes from a supernatural basis and certainly has moments that are spooky/scary but in essence it’s more of an emotional drama.

Mark Snow:  That’s right.  The idea of people crossing over – they try to do this in a hip way so it’s, in a sense, like Highway To Heaven or Touched By An Angel but much more modern/contemporary/cooler. 

Q: When you’re scoring a weekly series like Ghost Whisperer, you’ve defined your musical approach in the pilot.  Have there been opportunities in the individual stories of Ghost Whisperer to do something varied, or are you tied to a given musical concept from the start?

Mark Snow:  Ninety percent of the music on Ghost Whisperer is under dialog.  It’s very rare that there’s music without dialog, for whatever reason.  But it’s like setting up a sound and the pallet for it and just revisiting it in different variations.  They love the piano, and they love pads and percussion pulsing along, but then all of a sudden if you do an orchestra sound with a real strong melody they just go nuts for that.  It’s the contrast, that what I think is successful about that.

Q: Are there’s enough variation in the storylines to afford different instrumental pallets?

Mark Snow:  Certainly, when the show calls for some ethnic music or we go to different locations.  Sometimes these flashbacks have period piece connotations to them also, which calls for different kinds of music.

Q: Was there a specific way that they asked you to deal with the supernatural aspects, like the appearance of the ghosts, or emphasize when things are going a little bit strange?

Mark Snow:  They rely heavily on sound effects for all those things, when the ghost pops in or pops out or moves across the room.  I kind of lay low then, because the sound effects guys really go to town there.  At first they wanted us both to go crazy at those moments and they’d pick out what they liked the best, but that turned out to be a mess, so then I knew to calm down and let the sound effects do those moments.  But obviously sound effects can’t do the nice melody stuff, so I get my turn.

Q: You recently composed the music for Alain Resnais’ Coeurs (Private Fears in Public Places), which must have been quite a coup to get to work for the legendary French director.  I understand that Resnais was attracted to your music due to the X-Files.   How did he first get in contact with you for this?

Mark Snow:   He just called.  He found out who represented me and called.  I never associated his name with all his marvelous past, which is classic, this guy is a giant in the French New Wave cinema.  He just heard X-Files reruns on French TV, and he thought the music would be perfect, for whatever reason.

Q: He was drawn to the more melodic material which is laced throughout the X-Files scores, rather than the scary stuff?

Mark Snow:  Actually, no!  He was really talking about the more atmospheric music.  He thought that would be fitting.  They had tracked it with my music.  There was some melodic stuff but nothing like what it turned out to be, that’s for sure.

Q: Did you score it over here or did you go over to France?

Mark Snow:  I met with him in Paris but I actually did it in Connecticut.  I have a studio out there.

Q: What was the process, as far as determining what he wanted and how you should approach the music?

Mark Snow:  He said, ‘just do what you think is right, like the kind of thing we put in [the temp score].’  I had actually written a theme before I got there, just from reading the script, and it turned out to be the main theme.  I sent him music from Connecticut, and then it was waiting for that first phone call, that initial reaction, which is always nerve racking.  But he called and said ‘it’s great,’ and then as I kept sending him stuff, he would just say, ‘oh, make this part a little this, or a little that.’  ‘Okay, fine.’  ‘Wonderful, thank you!’  And done.  Then what happens, in France, apparently, they take the music and they just put it wherever they want to!  So there were places where they moved the starts and they fade it in early or used another cue, stuff like that.  I mean, not that you’d really notice, and nothing that was like bad from my point of view.  Then they called and said ‘you’ve got a Cesar nomination along with a lot of other people in the group here.’  It was a big hit at all these festivals, and it won the Special Award at one of them.  And now there’s a possibility of doing his next movie, which he’s just finishing now.

Q: How did this feature film experience differ from writing for a television series?

MS:  The marvelous thing about movies as opposed to TV, you can write these kinds of things.  In TV the producers are always going, ‘no, no! Pulse!  Pulse!  We need rhythm!  We need to keep the audience awake!’  And then if you write a minor chord, they go, ‘no, no!  That’s sad!  We can’t have sad!’  Even if it is sad!  But with this, you get that mood going, you get your theme going, and that’s it.  That’s what was so great.  

Q: What was the element that you felt was the crux of the film – or “this is what I want to hang my score on?”

Mark Snow:  That’s a good question.  I would say, toward the end, you start feeling, as corny as it sounds, the tragic element of these people not being able to connect.  So it was toward the end when you knew it was like, oh shit, it was inevitable that this ain’t going to work out for anyone.  That’s where the meat of the score lay. 

Q: You recorded in Connecticut?

Mark Snow:  I have a studio there.  I played it and recorded it – it was all by me, there was not one live instrument.  But we mixed it at the Sony Records studio in New York.  I had my mixer fly in from L.A., and we did it, which was amazing.  It was pretty great. 

Q: So what’s coming up for you after the new X-Files movie?

Mark Snow:  I’ve got this other movie coming up, a kids’ movie called The Knights Of Appletown.  It was directed and written by Bobby Moresco, who co-wrote Crash with Paul Haggis, of all things.  It’s a sweet little movie and it’s miles and miles away from X-Files!

Los Angeles Times: David Duchovny, Mr. X-Files, says, 'God, what a great love affair'

David Duchovny, Mr. X-Files, says, ‘God, what a great love affair’
Los Angeles Times
Geoff Boucher

[Original article here]

The actor is paired up and on the hunt again for aliens and freaky folk. But first (and unlike Mulder), he declares his feelings for his FBI partner.


THE TRUTH IS OUT THERE: Of the movie’s plot, Duchovny, in true FBI style, says: “You can ask, but my job is to not answer.” (Karen Tapia-Andersen / Los Angeles Times)

THE CAST and crew of the upcoming “The X-Files: I Want to Believe” were just a few weeks into filming in Vancouver when Frank Spotnitz, the co-writer and co-producer with creator-director Chris Carter, called star David Duchovny over to a laptop computer to watch a fan-made video on YouTube. It was a montage of scenes from the old “X-Files” show set to Sarah McLachlan‘s forlorn “When She Loved Me.” ¶ “It was intensely romantic and it almost brought tears to my eyes,” Duchovny recalled. “It really did. And it reminded me that we have at the core of ‘The X-Files’ this very powerful relationship. We have to honor that and not shy away from the sentimentality of the fans or of the relationship itself. When we were doing the show, Gillian [Anderson] and I had got tired of it. And we wanted to be ourselves outside of it. I remember struggling. But now I think, ‘God, what a great love affair.’ ” ¶ Those are healing words for the intensely devoted fans of the television series that became a pop-culture phenomenon in the 1990s and made Duchovny’s Fox Mulder and Anderson’s Dana Scully a sort of Tracy and Hepburn, albeit with alien autopsies. The show debuted in 1992, peaked with audiences in its fifth season but ran out of gas in 2002. On July 25, the flashlights come out again and FBI agents Mulder and Scully will restart their spooky romantic tango.

The plot of the film has been intensely guarded and, sitting in a coffee shop in Santa Monica, Duchovny carefully sidestepped questions about the story cooked up by Carter and Spotnitz. “You can ask, but my job is to not answer,” said the lean 47-year-old who this year picked up a Golden Globe for his work in “Californication” on Showtime.

Duchovny did confirm that “I Want to Believe” will be in the tradition of the “stand-alone” episodes of the old series, meaning it’s not part of the long, complicated story arc concerning a shadow government and alien life; this will be more of a “horror and suspense movie, the creepy stuff as procedural,” that finds the agents more on Scooby-Doo duty rather than in Oliver Stone mode.

A good portion of the movie was filmed in Whistler, the alpine skiing hub in Canada’s Coast Mountains, and the intense snow on screen is both majestic and unsettling as the agents chase their mystery.

“It’s not a James Bond film,” Duchovny said with a wry smile. “We’re not chasing a guy on a snowboard. Not that that wouldn’t have been cool. But it’s not that. I’m lobbying already to make the next one in Hawaii. It’s not going so well. But the snow looks amazing. The flashlights in the snow look great.”

The franchise hit the silver screen in 1998 with “The X-Files: Fight the Future,” and a sequel was expected in 2001 but legal quarrels between Carter and 20th Century Fox delayed the process, and then script and scheduling issues hampered the process further. The film will acknowledge the time passage and even have a bit of fun with it, such as a scene early on in which Mulder and Scully, in a corridor at FBI headquarters, both glance purposely at the portrait of President Bush on the wall; the Clinton photographs from the 1990s are long gone.

“It’s not like other science-fiction shows where time is frozen or you’re in an unfamiliar world,” he said. “You’ve got to make these actual people who have aged and changed. For me, I thought I could kind of slip back into the character pretty easily, but early on in filming I found myself wondering whether I had done enough work. It was more of a challenge than I expected.”

What helped? “Working with Gillian again and that rhythm between us, that was probably the easiest thing and very helpful for me. It was key for me to get back to Mulder and nice we didn’t have to kind of play it up or emphasize it or exaggerate it. I really didn’t do any research, per se. I have seen the show over the past six years. Usually when I can’t sleep and I turn on the TV and it’s there. I do watch it for a few minutes and it’s nice now. It’s like home movies. But with autopsies.”

X-Files Italian Fan Site: XFIFS Interviews Frank Spotnitz

??-??-2008 (May-2008?)
X-Files Italian Fan Site
XFIFS Interviews Frank Spotnitz

[Original article here]

Q: Are you upset for anything leeked out on internet? Were you bewildered by fans’perspicacity in catching spoilers and informations?

FS: We are grateful for all the interest in the movie! Fortunately, there has been so much disinformation on the Internet that no one trusts any of the spoilers, which has allowed us (so far) to preserve the element of surprise. And yes, we are constantly impressed by how perceptive the fans are.

Q: We saw pictures where Mulder has a beard and we know Scully has long hair in this movie. Was it your choice or Gillian and David has something to do with it?

FS: If these descriptions turn out to be true, we can talk about them after the movie opens!

Q: Who missed most among the people you used to work with during the series?

FS: I’ve missed so many people, particularly among the crews in Vancouver and Los Angeles. I’ve been able to keep in touch (more or less) with many of the actors and writers. But one of the nicest things about making “I Want to Believe” was the chance to reconnect with so many colleagues I hadn’t seen in a long time.

Q: Is there any important actor who wanted to be in the second movie and you didn’t choose him/her?

FS: Honestly, no. We got the cast we dreamed of.

Q: We know you haven’t released it yet, but does the title have a connection to something?

FS: Yes. In addition to harkening back to the original idea of the series, “I Want to Believe” speaks perfectly to the conflict that’s at the heart of the new movie.

Q: We don’t know if William is mentioned in this movie (we hope so) but if he is not, do you think you will talk about him in the 3rd movie in the case there will be a 3rd movie?

FS: All I can say is I hope there is a third movie!

Q: What can you tell us about XF2 which you didn’t tell anybody before?

FS: We’ve just finished editing the picture!

Q: Where does the name Frankie come from?

FS: One of Chris’ dogs, a standard poodle who sadly passed away during the filming of the movie.

Q: Considering the point where X-Files is right now, can you say that it’s where you planned it to be when you created the series?

FS: No, I don’t think Chris Carter could’ve imagined the life and longevity “The X-Files” has had when he created the series 16 years ago.

Q: What was the hardest thing you both have to face with writing the script or the story?

FS: Working in all that freezing cold weather we’d written into the movie!

Q: Is there going to be a cliffhanger at the end of the second movie that might be connected to a possible 3rd one?

FS: No. We didn’t want to set this up as a tease or hook for another movie. We just wanted to make a really great movie that would stand on its own.

Q: Did you get an ispiration from something (movie, book, anything) for the plot?

FS: Yes. (But I can’t tell you what right now.)

Q: What are you most afraid of fans opinions or bad reviews?

FS: Hmm. I try not to be afraid of either. Our attitude has been to work hard to make something that we really love. We can’t control or predict how others will react.

Q: When (the year or the season) did you plan the storyline about Scully’s pregnacy?

FS: We had thought about it for some time (at least since Season 5), but we didn’t definitely decide on Scully’s pregnancy until Season 7.

Q: At the end of the series Mulder gave us a glimmer of hope, what can Mulder and Scully still hope for their personal lives? Can you answer both?

FS: Sorry, I can’t say. But you’ll find out soon enough…!

Q: Can you tell me your favorite episode by the direction’s point of view (not necessarily one of yours also by the other X-Files’ directors)?

FS: Two of my favorite episodes, from a directing standpoint, would have to be “The Post-Modern Prometheus” and “Triangle,” both directed by Chris. I love “Post-Modern Prometheus” because of its quirky and unique point of view, and “Triangle” is technically an incredible feat. Other than that, I would say anything directed by Rob Bowman, Kim Manners, Dan Sackheim or David Nutter. They are all masterful.

Q: Why every time there is a kiss between Mulder and Scully the lights are off? On the behalf of all the italian x-philes, can we pay the power bill?

FS: Ha! Is that true? I thought the lights were on in “Millennium!”

Q: If there was any reason that can make Scully leave Mulder and vice-versa what would it be?

FS: There are conflicts that could drive apart anyone. As for what they might be, I can’t say…

Q: For us X-Files is like a life’s philosophy, during the past 5/6 years how much were Mulder and Scully present in your lives?

FS: I would say I tried not to think of them directly because I was working on different projects, and wanted to find different ways of depicting characters and telling stories. But on a deeper level, I would have to say Mulder and Scully have always been with me (and always will).

Q: Have something paranormal ever hapenned on The X Files’ set?

FS: Good question. Yes, there have been a few strange things – a healthy and giant tree falling where a catering truck had been parked moments earlier; people feeling the presence of ghosts. Nothing weird enough to make for an episode, though!

Q: I really admire your work, Frank, and I`m curous do you have any idol?

FS: I am inspired by so many people! From my colleagues on the show… to historical figures like Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr… to great cultural figures, ranging from the chef Thomas Keller and the novelist Graham Greene… to filmmakers like John Ford and Woody Allen… and musicians like Bruce Springsteen and Tom Petty.

Q: I know Chris doesn’t watch much the TV, so the question is for Frank. Do you have any fav tv show?

FS: “Breaking Bad,” Vince Gilligan’s new show.

Q: I must say that I watched and own all your tv series and I am so sorry Harsh Realm and Night Stalker didn’t get the chance to be on air a little more. Did you plan the end of the 2 shows? May I know it?

FS: “Harsh Realm” would’ve ended with Hobbes defeating Santiago and reuniting with Sophie – we hadn’t worked it out yet any more specifically than that. As for “Night Stalker,” you can find my thoughts about the ending at length on the DVD commentary.

Q: Who got the idea of the scene in the opening title of season 8 where Mulder falls into an eye?

FS: I don’t remember!