Christophe Beck is the composer for 2010’s documentary film, “Waiting for ‘Superman'”. Besides that 2010 has not been a slow year, he also composed “Burlesque”, “Due Date”, “Death at a Funeral”, “Date Night”, “Hot Tub Time Machine” and “Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief”. Movie Mikes had a chance to chat with Christophe about his “Waiting for ‘Superman'” and his many other projects.
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Mike Gencarelli: Tell us about your inspiration for your score of “Waiting for ‘Superman'”?
Christophe Beck: First thing, I take the direction that I get from the filmmakers. It is pretty rare that I come on a project and I am told “We have no idea what we want. We trust you completely, just do you thing”. Even though that sounds like a composers dream, it is not the reality of the film business. It is really collaborative. When I first started on “Waiting for ‘Superman'” it was already a film in pretty good shape…editing wise. There was already a temp score that they had been working on and off for the entire they they were cutting the film. I believe that there were about a year and half in it at that point. The director explained to me what he liked about the temp and what he doesn’t like. That really gives me a really good direction for where to go next.
MG: Do you have a favorite track on the on the project?
CB: Actually I do, yeah. My favorite track is the piece that plays after the kids find out whether or not they are getting into the schools. It is a bittersweet moment. It is a very simple piano and strings piece for that. It is my favorite. It is interesting because that was actually rewritten. I had something in there that was a little bit fancier. It even screened at Sundance with it included. A few months later there was an opportunity to go back and replace a few songs. I had a discussing with the director at that point and he wasn’t 100% satisfied with that piece either. I opted to rewrite it and it ended up being my favorite cue in the film.
MG: Congrats on winning the Hollywood Music in Media Award, how do you feel your chances are for Academy Awards nomination?
CB: Very slim. I think it has been something like 1947, that a documentary score was nominated for an Oscar. So history is against me. Plus the kind of scores that gets nominated for Oscars are normally for mainstream films. Music in documentaries doesn’t play as overt of a role and is a little more in the background, but don’t get me wrong they are still important.
MG: Did you find it difficult coming on the project after it has started?
CB: I would have loved to have been hired earlier for “Waiting for ‘Superman'”. I do not remember why I was hired later for that film. We only had four weeks to do the score. I was very open to that challenge but of course it is always better to have more time. Ideally I would have several months to work on a score like that. I would have liked to been brought on just as they would have started to cut the film. That way I would have been able to create a possible library of music that they could have used as their temp score. That kind of a situation would have been great. To be honest, when I was first brought on the film, I was really excited just to be involved. I loved the film from the first time I saw it.
MG: You work in 2010 is so diverse ranging from “Burlesque to “Hot Tub Time Machine, do you feel each genre differs?
CB: Essentially writing music for a film is the same regardless of genre. That also goes for documentary versus narrative. Within the narrative film you have the fantasy film, like “Percy Jackson” or comedies “The Hangover”. I actually do a lot of comedies. I find that the job is same really. It is storytelling through music and collaboration with another storyteller. The style of music might change. The instruments might change. The function of the music might change scene to scene, which happens a lot with comedies. Music is there to let the audience though that it is ok to laugh. But at its core it is still the same process.
MG: Of all your projects what has been your favorite?
CB: That is a really though question to answer. Usually my answer is what I just finished [laughs], which in this case is a film called “Crazy, Stupid, Love”.
MG: What can you tell us about “Crazy, Stupid, Love”?
CB: Well it is coming out this summer. I really enjoyed working on it and I am really proud of it. It is a small score with a lot of quirky instrumentation. For me it was different because of working with live musicians from the start. We did a number session with a small number of musicians. Normally I would do all that at the end, after working on the demos. In this case, we worked with them through the writing process. So a lot of the writing I did was with the musicians at those sessions. It was a bit of a change for me, but you can hear the results in the score.
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