David Julyan (Composer - 'The Prestige')
'Conjouring Up New Musical Magic'
Continuing a longstanding relationship that dates back to their college days, "The Prestige" is the latest in a series of collaborations between David Julyan and film director Christopher Nolan. Collaborations that include such films as "Memento" and "Insomnia."
With an all-star cast that includes Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Piper Perabo and Scarlett Johansson, the stylish, uniquely twisted period piece 'The Prestige' tells the story of two rival musicians in turn-of-the-century London who battle each other for trade secrets. The rivalry is so intense that it turns them into murderers.
Although the story is set at the turn of the century, Julyan incorporated modern musical elements into his music for the film. In addition to a 60 piece orchestra, Julyan employed electronic music to capture a sense of intensity and intrigue that follows the magicians' lifelong battle for supremacy, full of obsession, deceit and jealousy.
Nolan and Julyan's teamwork dates back to Nolan's short film "Larceny," shot while Julyan was still in college. Soon after, they collaborated on their first feature length film, "Following," a black and white movie shot on the streets of London. Julyan's dark and atmospheric scores began to add impact to Nolan's suspenseful stories. For the breakthrough hit "Memento," a noir thriller of murder told in reverse, Julyan's music again added a new depth and mood. The big-budget "Insomnia," another collaboration with Nolan, marked Julyan's first orchestral score, with a soaring combination of live instruments and electronica that brought him to a new level of scoring sophistication.
David Julyan has scored over a dozen film and television projects in various genres with various directors, including intimate character ensembles in films such as "Spivs" and "Inside I'm Dancing," and full scale orchestral scores for "Dungeons and Dragons 2" and "The Descent."
Taking it from the top and just what is it about working with director Chris Nolan that made you wish to re-team once again for 'The Prestige'? "I met Chris Nolan when we were in college. We were both involved in the Student Film Society there. I'd been writing music in my spare time and started doing music for friends short films. Chris made a very low budget feature called “Following,” very much guerrilla film making. It was the success of “Following” that got “Memento” off the ground."
"Even back then Chris knew what he was doing, it sounds obvious but it's an important trait, and why it's great to keep working with him."
And with regard the movie's title, did you immediately know what the word 'Prestige' related to prior to taking on the project? "Yes, but only because I cheated! I read the book a few years ago when Chris was initially talking about the project."
Although this is a turn-of-the-century London film you purposely incorporated modern musical elements. Why choose to do that? "One of Chris's first notes to me was to say that he didn't want a traditional period score. It may be a period setting but I wouldn't call it a traditional period film. From the start I knew we'd combine orchestra with a lot of electronics to achieve the effect. We wanted the score to reflect the sense of anticipation that magic was about to happen, one sound we talked about was that of an orchestra tuning up, after some experimentation I ended up with and effect created from heavily processed samples."
Nolan's films all seem to be a touch, well ... left of center, shall we say! Does he converse with you about the score music in such a manner also, perhaps? "The unique thing about working with Chris is that he doesn’t like using a temp score so I actually get involved quite early on in the day. For example, with “The Prestige,” I had a copy of the script. From the script, I had a couple conversations with Chris about the mood of the music and what he was trying to achieve."
"I was actually writing music from the script before I’d seen any footage. He took these early mock-ups of mine and used them as the temp score. So the flow of an exchange of ideas was a very productive way of working. Instead of “Can you copy the temp?”, it was “Can you keep moving the mock-ups in the direction I want?”
You've scored over 12 films and TV projects in various genres, but which comes to mind as being your pinnacle achievement at this time of your life? "That's like asking someone with lots of children which is their favourite, they all have something different that's special about them. I'm still very fond of 'Following,' partly because it was made with no expectations of ever getting released, so it was a bigger surprise. Also the way that both 'The Descent' and 'The Prestige' combine the orchestral and electronic, the two scores compliment each other very well."
What forthcoming work have you got lined up that you can tell us about? "I've just finished a British film called 'Outlaw' directed by Nick Love."
If you could rearrange/re-touch any film score from the '70s, which movie would it be from ... and why? "Should this question read "which 70s score do you hate"? I can only recall the ones I like and they don't need retouching!"
Interviewed by Russell A. Trunk
If you would like to win an AUTOGRAPHED copy of 'The Prestige' on CD, and you think you know all there is to know about the film, just answer this easy question: In the Bullet Catching Scene you can clearly see someone's name on the list of performers under Bale's "The Professor." This person was a fictional wizard in a series of books from novelist Jim Butcher, but which 'person/name' are we talking about?!
Send me your answers and if you're correct you'll be in the running to win one of these new AUTOGRAPHED CDs from David Julyan! Just send us an e:mail here before January 15th with your answer and the subject title 'CONTEST: THE PRESTIGE SIGNED CD' to: firstname.lastname@example.org
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