John Frizzell (Composer - 'The Reaping')
'A Musical Gathering Personified'
Composer John Frizzell scores the upcoming supernatural thriller release "The Reaping." The film, starring Hilary Swank, is directed by Stephen Hopkins and produced by Joel Silver. Frizzell has previously worked with producer Joel Silver on such films as "13 Ghosts", "Ghost Ship," and "Cradle 2 The Grave." Warner Brothers Pictures is set to release the film March 30.
In the film, Hilary Swank plays a former Christian missionary who lost her faith after her family was tragically killed, and has since become a world renowned expert in disproving religious phenomena. But when she investigates a small Louisiana town that is suffering from what appear to be the Biblical plagues, she realizes that science cannot explain what is happening and she must regain her faith to combat the dark forces threatening the community.
For his most recent release, "Primeval," Frizzell spent weeks submerged in the world of African music, listening to over 20 hours of traditional recordings and mining vintage Smithsonian film footage in order to gain a holistic understanding of the art form.
Frizzell has written scores for a variety of genres and has proven his musical talent, creativity and versatility. For "The Prizewinner of Defiance, Ohio," starring Julianne Moore, Frizzell recruited Newgrass band Nickel Creek to play on his Americana score.
John Frizzell's other credits range from comedies such as "Beavis and Butthead Do America" and the cult classic "Office Space," to the dark comedy "Teaching Mrs. Tingle" and the sci-fi drama "Alien Resurrection." Recent credits include "Gods and Generals," and "First Born," starring Elisabeth Shue.
Taking it from the top and what were your musical influences growing up and how many still factor into your compositions today? "I was around music a lot as a child. My father wanted to be a professional pianist but went into architecture. He played a lot his whole life though. I studied music theory extensively in high school and then chose to major in jazz at USC. After USC I went to Manhattan School of music. During these years I thought perhaps I wanted to be a novelist or a scientist. But these other fields were difficult for me and while I enjoyed the idea of them, music was just my path of least resistance. I left Manhattan School of Music to work in a recording studio and my experiences there led to my interest in film music."
For the Average Joe who may not have heard of you and was thinking of buying your some of your previous soundtrack works, which one would you yourself advise them to listen to? "I am proud of “Gods and Generals.” Ron Maxwell was such an inspiring director to work with. He really pushed me into finding a new part of myself as a composer. I am so grateful to have had that experience."
As you are currently creating your score to 'The Reaping' soundtrack, please tell us how things are going and if any speed bumps have been encountered thus far? "I wrote an orchestral score using an 80-piece orchestra, plus a 60-voice choir. The choir sings in Gaelic which makes it seem mysterious. I also wrote ambient electronica for the score. Frederik Wiedemann produced that for the score."
How easy (or hard) is it to constantly create a new, vibrant, wanted-by-the-public sound that both builds on and surpasses the musical wonderment's/accomplishments/arrangements that preceded it within the industry? "Well, I'm glancing down the IMDB's top 250 movie list right now, and there are very few films that are not music intensive. Some feature songs more than score, but it is very rare that a great film does not have great music and often that music is an original score."
"I think the reason music is so important in film is that film often plays with our sense of time, the rate at which it passes. Music is integral to that, creating a sense of pace or time -- and let's not forget emotion. I would guess that music has accompanied storytelling for a long time. I imagine Grog the caveman banging bones and rocks together to help the dramatic content of his saga. That was early filmscoring (without royalties)."
Having worked on horror soundtracks such as '13 Ghosts' and 'Ghost Ship,' are such genres of musical cinema a passion for you more than others, perhaps? "'Fear' is a challenging mood to keep aloft. It is also an exhausting emotion to project during the act of composing. I do really injoy the inventiveness of horror scores. It is a chance to explore some really strange ideas."
You recently spent several weeks submerged in the world of African music - listening to over 20 hours of traditional recordings whilst mining vintage Smithsonian film footage whilst traveling across thee continents also - for your work on 'Primeval.' Was that completely different to the way you usually work for soundtracks and if so, will you be doing it again soon? "Yes! This is my first time. It is definitely a priority for me to do more projects this way."
Whilst there in the heart of the land, did you encounter anything similar to that of the legendary 25-foot crocodile, perhaps?! "No, I’m afraid not."
What memories / thoughts did you take home from this wondrous journey that still live with you today and that you hadn't left with, or assumed you would encounter? "It was very moving getting to know the Cape Town Burundian drummers. These guys had escaped the atrocities that spilled over into Burundi from Rwanda and had traveled on foot, all the way to Cape Town. That is several thousand miles. The trip had taken several years and not all of the group survived. They were taken in by the Catholic Church in Cape Town and have created good lives for themselves. These guys were so excited to play on the score. Several of them are on camera in the film too."
Has work begun yet on any new soundtrack projects that you can discuss at this time, perhaps? "'Careless,' for director Peter Spears and 'Beneath' for Dagen Merrill."
What classic film score would you love to rearrange today in your own style if you were given the chance? "I still want to redo UFO’s "Light's Out." I’m surprised it hasn’t been done before."
Lastly, Exclusive Magazine love Penguins ... do you?! "No, I’m afraid not!"
Interviewed by Russell A. Trunk
If you would like to win a SIGNED copy of 'The Reaping' on CD, just answer this easy question: After college Frizzell worked for acclaimed producer/vibraphonist Michael Mainieri, who owned the very first digital music workstation, on which Frizzell soon became a master synthesist. What was/is the name of this workstation?!
Send me your answers and if you're correct you'll be in the running to win one of these wonderful new SIGNED soundtrack CDs. Just send us an e:mail here with your answer and the subject title CONTEST: THE REAPING SIGNED CD to:
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