Film Review: “Christopher Robin”

Starring:  Ewan McGregor, Hayley Atwell and Jim Cummings
Directed by:  Marc Foster
Rated:  PG
Running time:  1 hr 44 mins
Walt Disney Pictures

Why do we have to grow up?

I’m 57 (58 next month) and as my childhood gets further and further away, I miss more and more the things of that time.  I think most of us do.  To forget out childhood, and our childhood friends, seems like an impossibility.  But not to Christopher Robin.

When we meet young Christopher (Orton O’Brien), he is being honored at a going away party by his best friends in the Hundred Acre Wood.  As stories are told and gifts exchanged, it is his stuffed bear, Winnie the Pooh (voiced by Cummings) that says what everyone is thinking:  “I wish this could go on forever.”

A film that melts your heart in its first five minutes, “Christopher Robin” follows the title character (McGregor) into young adulthood, where he goes off to school, falls in love, goes to war and then settles down to raise a family.  Now a working-class family man, Robin’s daily duties include cutting costs at the luggage manufacturing company he works for and ducking his Gin Rummy-crazed next door neighbor.  He has long ago put away his drawings from childhood, where he and his friends would have adventures.  His latest adventure – breaking his promise to his daughter and sending she and her mother off on holiday alone.  Another weekend working.  Oh, bother.

A perfect blend of live action and CGI, “Christopher Robin” brings back to life such cherished characters as Tigger (also voiced by Cummings), Eyore (Brad Garrett), Piglet (Nick Mohammed), Rabbit (Peter Capaldi) and Owl (Toby Jones).  Along with Pooh, they do their best to convince a dubious Christopher that you can’t lose the past if you don’t want to.  “Did you let me go,” Pooh asks softly.  Christopher can only ponder the question.

McGregor is perfectly cast as a young husband and father, trying to provide for his family and not realizing that, the more he tries, the further they are drifting apart.  Atwell is just as strong as Christopher’s wife, Evelyn, and young Bronte Carmichael is sadly sweet as their daughter, Madeline.  The special effects are flawless and, if you’re not too careful, you too might find yourself talking to stuffed bears and planning age-old adventures.

DVD Review “Christopher Cross: A Night In Paris”

Christopher Cross: A Night in Paris
Eagle Rock Entertainment
Total Running Time: 97 minutes

Our rating: 1.5 out of 5 stars

“What’s your favorite guilty pleasure song?” Well…while I always have to spend some time thinking about which 10 albums I’m going to be stranded on a desert island with or which 25 had the most impact on my life, the numero uno guilty pleasure song question has always been an easy one for me to answer: “Sailing” by Christopher Cross. Sure, many may think all copies of the song should be permanently exiled to the jukebox of cheese, but there’s no denying that it’s a perfectly crafted and superbly produced pop gem. It’s lush orchestral strains in tandem with that gently-picked guitar line always help me to find tranquility for the entirety of its four-minute jaunt – as does much of music he’s produced over the past 30+ years.

So why is it that, barely 15 minutes into watching his latest live DVD, “A Night in Paris”, I found myself with an aching headache, desperately wanting to grab the remote so I could eject the disc? Is it because Cross’ voice sounds so weak and strained that he’s butchered all of vocal lines in all of the songs he’s performed up to that point? No. Is it because the concert lighting is so flashy and overdone that it in no way matches the musical content or demeanor of the performers? No. Is it because, despite the fact that the show was allegedly shot using nine HD cameras, the picture quality looks like a bad bootleg copy that was obtained at a local flea market? No. Ahhh…but it does have something to do with the visuals. Quite a lot, in fact.

“Paris” is easily one of the most poorly filmed and shoddily edited live concert DVDs I have ever seen. For starters, the small, non-descript, dimly-lit stage doesn’t allow for much movement of either the musicians themselves or the camera crew. As a result, the resulting individual shots – including ones from a camera that’s inexplicably mounted on a tripod that’s located directly behind the drummer – are fairly static and bland.

In an effort to make up for lack of kinetic energy in both the individual shots and the overall performance itself, director Sebastien Bonnet has to cut the film together using rapid fire editing techniques that make it impossible to focus on any one visual for more than just a few seconds. Many music videos employ this style – and, luckily, they end after 3 to 4 minutes. But “Paris” runs a full 97 minutes. Mon dieu.

For example, the third song of the show, “Leave it to Me” (from Cross’ most recent studio outing, 2011’s “Doctor Faith”), times in at 3:49 and is 125 beats per minute (think Sting’s “If You Love Somebody Set Them Free” or Suzanne Vega’s “Luka” and you’re right on the money). By the time the band had hit their final flourish, I had counted 115 video cuts. That averages out to a staggering one cut every two seconds. Sure, that won’t induce epilepsy, but, trust me, it will make you reach for the Advil.

The 2CDs that are included in this set contain all 17 tracks contained on the DVD with most of the in-between song banter omitted. While the recording is solid and the tracks do represent a fair cross-section of Chris’ body of work, the performance is so lackluster and the quality of Cross’ vocal delivery is so awful that one would be far better off listening to 1999’s “Greatest Hits Live” CD or watching the “An Evening With Christopher Cross” DVD also from that same year. Both are much better of examples of why Cross’ career has spanned far beyond that “Best New Artist” Grammy win in 1979.

Cross mentions at various points throughout “A Night in Paris” that the performance is being recorded for a DVD so he can document this particular point in his career. Clearly, it’s an important evening to him. Hopefully, he’s pleased with the end results – because, frankly, it’s hard to imagine that anyone else would be.

Matthew Modine reflects on working with Stanley Kubrick in "Full Metal Jacket" and Christopher Nolan in "The Dark Knight Rises"

Matthew Modine is probably known best for playing Pvt. Joker in Stanley Kubrick’s “Full Metal Jacket” and Louden Swain in “Vision Quest”. He recently appeared as Deputy Commissioner Peter Foley in “The Dark Knight Rises” and will be appearing later this year as John Sculley in upcoming “jOBS”. Matthew also is set to produce and voice act in Ralph Bakshi’s latest film “Last Days of Coney Island”, which is currently trying to become funded via Kickstarter. Matthew took out some time to reflect working with Stanley Kubrick in “Full Metal Jacket”, Christopher Nolan in “The Dark Knight Rises” and his role in “jOBS”. Check out the first part of our interview with him, here.

Mike Gencarelli: Can you believe that it has been 25 years since “Full Metal Jacket” and here we are still discussing it all these years later?
Matthew Modine: It is amazing. It is a testament to Stanley Kubrick and his genius. He didn’t make movies that are disposable. They continue to have relevance long after they have been released, whether it is “Paths of Glory”, “Dr. Strangelove”, “2001: A Space Odyseey” or “A Clockwork Orange”. They are just films that continue to speak to audiences. I always remember something that Stanley said “A film should be like a good piece of music. Something that you can listen to over and over again and have relevance long after it is written”. I think he tried to approach film with that mentality like a great piece of music.

MG: Tell us about the origin of your book “Full Metal Diary”?
MM: I had a tremendous experience working with Kubrick and I kept this diary while I was working on the film. He also allowed me to take photographs on the set. I had this 2 1/4 x 2 1/4-inch Rolleiflex camera that I tucked inside my jacket when we were in Vietnam and then kept in my foot locker when we were filming the boot camp. It was very rare that he allowed me to take photographs on the set because he was such a secretive and private filmmaker, but he almost encouraged it. I don’t know why but I am very grateful that he did and gave the opportunity to be able to share what that looked like. The thing about keeping my diary is that Kubrick often asked me to read my diary out loud to everyone on the set. The thing that it encouraged me to do was tot hen keep a very good diary with accurate notes. The thing that I love about the diary is that it is the voice of a young man that is in a situation that he really doesn’t understand. It is not a reflection is my point. It is not somebody looking back at a time working with Stanley Kubrick, as a recollection. What you experience when you reach it is this naive person about a circumstance that he doesn’t understand and I think that makes it quite unique.

MG: How did your diary go from book to the new iPad app?
MM: I was approach by Adam Rackoff. He used to work for Apple. He was one of the geniuses that worked for them. Steve Jobs was his boss. He was responsible for opening stores, advertising and more. I had done a presentation at the Apple Store in Soho talking about how the book was made on a Mac. He really just loved the book and knew that their were only 20,000 copies of the books made each with a serial number. So years later, the iPad come out with these amazing apps. He told me that he thought it would be an perfect iPad app. He said he would have me record the story in my own voice, do characterizations for the people talked about in the stories, have someone do original score along with sound effects and create this amazing and deeply immersible experience for people to enjoy with iPads. The final thing that sealed the deal for me is that he said that it would be something that Stanley Kubrick would be proud of. So with us holding the bar that high for Stanley Kubrick, that was the criteria for this…was it good enough for Stanley? In the end, I think we created something that he would definitely be impressed with.

MG: Last year you played Deputy Commissioner Peter Foley in “The Dark Knight Rises”, tell us about that experience?
MM: The thing that was amazing about that film is that people are always comparing Christopher Nolan to Stanley Kubrick. As big as that film was, as large as the cast was, the budget…everything – when you came on the set of “The Dark Knight Rises” it felt like an intimate independent film. Nolan creates an environment on the set that makes it feel very intimate. He doesn’t have a video village. He has this little monitor he wears around his neck. He is not one of those directors that is hiding behind a bunch of monitors and away from the set. He stands on the set and is with his actors and his crew. He is curious about what his technicians are going and what the actors are thinking and saying. I think that may not sound like what a director is suppose to do but you will be surprised at how many filmmakers are not that involved. There is so much chaos on a film set that you don’t know who is directing the movie. Is it the producers? Is it the writer? The crew? The director of photography Nolan is really the the captain of his ship. His wife is his producing partner and his brother is his writing partner. It is just a very tight and intimate environment. I mean how often does anyone have such a great character arc in that kind of a film. I just hope I get the opportunity to work with him again.

MG: You mentioned Apple and later this year you also have your role of John Sculley in “jOBS” coming, what can we expect?
MM: I haven’t seen the finished film but it was extraordinary to work on. I think that Ashton Kutcher did an amazing job from the work I saw. He was really fully committed to doing Steve Jobs justice. It is amazing to see how much he began to look and sound like him. I am looking forward to see it. I know it closed the Sundance Film Festival, was received positively and received a distribution deal. So all the signs are that it will be an entertaining film.

Jason Christopher talks about slasher "Nobody Gets Out Alive" and upcoming "Monsters Within"

Jason Christopher is the writer/director of the 70/80’s slasher inspired “Nobody Gets Out Alive”. The film is in-your-face and will leave hardcore horror fans very happy. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Jason to chat about the film and what he has planned next.

Mike Gencarelli: You handled everything from editing to producer to writer and directing “Nobody Gets Out Alive”, tell us about the origin of this project?
Jason Christopher: The flick came about with my producer and I making a small no budget movie. We made this movie where we were the only crew and hired three actors and had a solid story. With no budget the movie didn’t turn out how we really wanted it to but we screened it sold out in 45 min and turned away 200 people. That’s when my producer was like, “lets get a real budget and make a real movie, what other scripts you got?” I wrote “NGOA” when I was 17 years old. Always wanted to write a slasher flick paying homage to the flicks I loved. It wasn’t until my Dad passed away randomly that I actually sat down and wrote it. I had a lot of hate and anger wrapped in my head from the incident so it motivated me to make the Hunter Isth character. We got 36k bucks and made the movie.

MG: Out of all those tasks which was the most challenging for you?
JC: I consider myself a director and editor. I like writing but I’m not a good writer, I’ll admit. I have more of a vision with my eye through a camera than I do with my hands on a laptop writing. I do the fun side of producing, putting things together. My producer does the money and business side of things. That’s just not my thing. But with writing it’s a draft of your story, directing you’re seeing the story come to life and another draft, and editing is the final draft to me.

MG: The film is a nice homage to 70/80’s slasher pics, tell about your inspiration?
JC: I was born in ’87 so I didn’t get to witness first hand of all the best slasher flicks. But I watched them all when I could. “The Prowler”, “Black Christmas” (74), “Friday The 13th Part 3”, “Halloween 2″(82). Those are my favorites and I think they show in the flick.

MG: The gore in the film is solid and doesn’t cut away; I commend you for not being afraid to offend!
JC: My Dad always told me to make something controversial. I did a lot in “NGOA” by trying to be unique with the kills. There’s a lot more I wanted to show but I didn’t. Was thinking of how a distributor would feel because I definitely didn’t want the movie to sit on a shelf and never get picked up. After seeing “A Serbian Film” I was like, “damn this dude really didn’t care”. Love that flick for that reason.

MG: Do you recall what was the film’s final body count?
I think there’s a total of eight on screen. In earlier drafts there were a bunch more but I took them out due to not having money in the budget. *Spoiler* Originally the two convenience store victims weren’t supposed to be in but after a few cuts of the movie we decided to go back and put them in.

MG: How did Clint Howard get involved with the film?
JC: My producer set that one up. We had enough money to get a small cameo in the flick. We were tossing around names and I randomly said, “Clint Howard!” He took it and ran with it and set the whole thing up. Clint was great, he’s such a smart-cool dude.

MG: What do you have line-up next?
JC: This script I wrote titled, “Monsters Within”. I really can’t say much, don’t even know if I’m allowed to announce the movie title but whatever. It’s what I’m definitely working on getting off the ground. Money is always a bitch and we’re definitely aiming way high for the budget. Got a great name for the lead attached and I’m so excited for this movie. It’s everywhere – sci-fi, horror, slasher, mystery. It’s pretty cool.

Christopher Bessette talks about his film “Trade of Innocents”

Christopher Bessette is the writer and director of the film “Trade of Innocents”. The film recently played in the Toronto Cornerstone International Film Festival and we were awarded “Best Feature”. The film was released limited in theaters early this Fall and will be released on DVD on December 11, 2012. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Christopher about the film, what people can do to help in real life about human trafficking and also what he had plans next.

Mike Gencarelli: You have not has a simple career as filmmaker ranging from places like Amazon and the jungles of Central America, Russia, South East Asia, throughout Europe, across Canada and most of the United States; what do you enjoy most about working in so many different situations?
Christopher Bessette: I am really grateful for the places my career has taken me. You learn to be sensitive to cultural differences and become the observer in the nuance of communication… primarily because you don’t speak the language, so you learn to watch their physical mannerism and reactions.  This has been invaluable for me as a director.

MG: Tell us about how you were inspired to write and direct “Trade of Innocents”?
CB: Interesting how coffee shop conversations can ultimately lead you to the other side of the world. In 2008 I was in a coffee shop with a friend and she shared with me her missions work with orphans in Cambodia.  She told me about the plight of the people and the intense suffering they’ve endured.  My heart was broken and I immediately thought of two of my characters that are in Trade of Innocents. Two months later I get a surprise phone call from a broadcaster that I had worked with 17 years earlier and they asked me to help them tell a story about an organization that rescues children from the sex trade in CAMBODIA! I already had a story that I wanted to tell, so the trip would be dual purpose, I’d do the work for the broadcaster and I’d location scout and research for my movie.  So now I’m in country and I am seeing things happen all around me.  When your readers see the movie and the “Puppy Love” scene in the bar of the hotel; that really happened.  I chased down a perpetrator, following an investigators lead, exactly like the scene in the movie.  People might say, “come on” but if they could feel an ounce of pain my soul suffered when the pedophile was getting away with the little girl, they’d understand why I wept when we recreated that scene for Trade of Innocents… even as gut wrenching as that was, still it wasn’t the impetus.  On that same trip I found myself in the village of Svay Pok, 11 KM outside of Phnom Penh in a building called Rahab’s House. If you’ve seen the Dateline report, this is the building that was a notorious brothel. It is now used used as a community center, day care, medical clinic, church etc.  I went upstairs to the second floor, the room was sterilized freshly painted and void of furniture. Rahab’s House administrator told me that the room upstairs, “The Virgin Room or the Pink Room” was the room brothel owners held children as young as 5, 6 years old for the pedophiles.  I looked out of the bared window of that room to the dirt streets below and saw children playing. I wondered if a little girl looked through this same window wondering why she couldn’t be out there with her friends. I found myself whispering the words, “Oh God, help me tell her story, I have to do something, help me tell her story.”  Needless to say I came home with the story burning in my heart.

MG: How was it working with such an amazing cast like Dermot Mulroney, Mira Sorvino, John Billingsley and Trieu Tran
CB: Absolutely brilliant. Each actor has a different approach. My job is to serve each one so we communicate effectively and in-turn they serve the story, and the story serves the audience.  Here’s where the multi-culture experience comes in handy, I watch their unspoken communication actions and reactions and that gives me clues on how to effectively communicate with each of them.  Trieu Tran and I were in-sync from the beginning, I would say “a couple of words” to Trieu and he’d be like, “gotcha” and boom it would be outta the park!  All of these people are incredible professionals and my level of work with them is very subtle, whereas with other actors in the same piece, it is a lot more intense.  The end result is you’re looking for balance.

MG: Where you aware of Mira’s position on the topic of human trafficking before casting?
CB: She was a goldmine find.  I wasn’t personally aware of it but when her name came to the table, everybody on the producing team started buzzing about her passion with the  issue.  To have an actress that is extremely skilled and passionate about the issue is such a huge blessing.

MG: How does “Trade of Innocents” compare from your previous films?
CB: It is ambitious,  it carries poetic imagery of subtext, that for the viewer looking for it, will find.  I won’t spoil all of it by telling you, but the theme of redemption runs throughout… in each of the characters, even in colors.  The color red for example is typically associated with the red light district or a lady of the night, but in our film you’ll find it played in all of the positive ways, the red krama (scarf) the red drapes in Princess Willow Leafs palace, the Crimson Sun Bird that leads Amy into shanty town etc.

MG: Do you think that this film will create awareness for this “epidemic” of a situation?
CB: One film won’t be the answer, people will. The film will entertain but I hope that somewhere along the journey the viewers realize, “This is really going on!”  There is a collective voice that is silent for the most part crying  – that little girl looking through the bars of a window, hoping that a modern day abolitionist will stand up and say, “Enough, this is wrong.”  I hope it stirs those people that will make a difference.

MG: What do you have planned to follow-up this film?
CB: From real life drama / thriller in “Trade of Innocents” to real life drama in a supernatural thriller: imagine if I told you “The 6th Sense” was real.  True Story –  A 12 year old boy wakes from a coma and he is unable to speak but he can write.  He writes two letters, to two families, street addresses it to their house and everything… but he’s never met them before.  The contents of the letters contain exact details and names of their deceased children he’s met on the ‘other side.‘ They have a message for their parents and the world.

Christopher Tyng talks about scoring the TV series “Futurama”

Christopher Tyng is a composer that has worked on various television series including “Futurama”, “Suits” and “Rescue Me”. With Volume 7 of “Futurama” hits Blu-ray and DVD this month, he is releasing a brand new remix version of the “Futurama” theme on iTunes. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Christopher about working on the show and his influences over the years.

Mike Gencarelli: How did you originally get involved composing for “Futurama”?
Christopher Tyng: It all started with Matt Groening when he was searching for the style of music for the show. He has heard some of the stuff that I had done prior. He called and asked for a meeting. He was getting a lot of demos from other musicians but I guess they liked what they heard on mine. The rest is history, as I have been with this show for the last 10 years. Matt is a great person to work with.

MG: What is some of your inspiration that you pull from for this show?
CT: The visual aesthetics of the show goes back to the 50’s/60’s idea of what the future will be like. So we really wanted the music to reflect the same thing. We were looking at the hey-day of bachelor pad space age music. That was the music version of what they thought the future would be. The synthesizers were just started to get popular. There was this whole new pallid of sounds. People were also trying to stretch the boundaries of what music was then. We looked at what was happening with music at that time, so some of the influences were Les Baxter and Martin Denny. Of course then the show also takes place in the year 3000, so even though it has that visual aesthetic of that 50’s/60’s era, it takes place way in the future. We wanted to take those influences and modernize them a bit. Matt has always been a bit component of having a orchestra and doing it live. I was able to go back and do some remixing with electronica music, so we brought in that element as well. It is really a nice hodge-podge of elements in our influence.

MG: How do you do to differentiate the score season to season?
CT: That is a really good question! What is really great about “Futurama” – and different from any other show that I have worked on – is that in each episode, the story is set in the future where anything in possible. The show gets its story lines from pop culture reference over the years. Every episode is like a different journey. That has actually made the music different from episode to episode. We have this big orchestral sound with this bachelor pad space-age sound. They go back to ancient Egypt and the music takes on that tone. What is really fun for me is that when I go in to record, I really don’t know what I am writing for the next week. Due to that aspect, my job has never gotten stale since it is always changing.

MG: Tell us about the new extended remix for the “Futurama” theme available on iTunes?
CT: We wanted something that was going to play at a longer length for the iTunes release. We are excited that all the fans of “Futurama” are finally going to be able to own this piece of music in their collection. The TV scenes always tend to be a little shorter and don’t play the full single track. Some parts of the remix actually go back to the original premiere of the show at Griffith Observatory, which is this circular dome at the top of Hollywood. They had a DJ there and I decided to come up with some music for the DJ to spin. So there is actually some stuff on this single that I did way back then that was never able to been released. We were able to take all those elements and made it into a really great single length release.

MG: How composing for a cartoon compare to your other TV work?
CT: For shows like “The Simpsons” and “Futurama”, it isn’t the traditional cartoon music like the old-school Warner Bros. In the show there might be an epic space battle with deep comedic irony involved. But the music will always stay like it is an epic space battle. I thought originally that getting involved with a cartoon would be a totally different mindset. In truth though, the shows aims to play the aspects of the music like they are completely legitimate. If they are doing an emotionally intense moment, then the orchestra swells in a “Braveheart” sort of way. We are treating the show like we are scoring an epic movie even though the characters are doing something so ridiculous. That is what makes “Futurama” such an interesting project to work on due to the fact that it has such a wide set of influences.

Paranormal Activity Interview with expert Christopher Chacon

Christopher Chacon is a world-renowned Anomalist and regarded as one of the world’s foremost authorities on the scientific exploration of paranormal, supernatural and anomalous phenomena, as well as the occult/metaphysics and mysticism. For nearly thirty years, Christopher has traveled the world extensively investigating and researching thousands of cases dealing with every type of phenomena imaginable, including; possessions/exorcisms, all manner of psychic phenomena, haunts/poltergeists, UFO/alien close encounters and encounters with unknown life-forms, just to name a few. He has additionally participated on countless international expeditions involving ancient mysticism, the occult and archaeological discoveries relating to the supernatural.

Christophers past experience includes decades of Parapsychological research, as well as a background of being a professional illusionist/magician. Christopher is also a former veteran investigator/researcher with the Anomalistics Division of The Office of Scientific Investigation and Research, a private scientific think-tank that was in operation until 2000.

He continues to internationally consult for private organizations, religious and academic institutions, government agencies and corporations in dealing with phenomena and situations that often defy the known laws of nature and physics. Because of Christopher’s vast knowledge and extraordinary first-hand experiences, he is frequently sought after by those in the entertainment industry who are in need of a credible expert in these subjects to lend authenticity and a one-of-a-kind creative perspective to Movies and TV series. His incomparable reputation in this field has resulted in being featured on countless international TV and radio shows, popular documentaries and numerous publications. With “Paranormal Activity 4” now in theatres, and a fifth chapter recently announced, Media Mikes sought out Mr. Chacon to talk about the things we can’t easily explain.

Mike Smith: What sparked your interest in investigating the world of the paranormal?
Christopher Chacon: Wow! That’s going way back. I would have to say, initially, it was originally in college. My background is in magic and illusion. I’m a performer. People would approach me and tell me they were having a haunting or some other type of unusual circumstance. From an illusionist standpoint you can easily see how people can often misunderstand certain circumstances and how they can be tricked. So in a lot of these situations I would observe and then tell them “this is what’s really happening.” They were just misperceived. It wasn’t a ghost…it wasn’t a close encounter. And then at some point I began working with a para-psychologist and we started doing research on a larger bulk of cases. It was at about that time that I was exposed to a poltergeist case where the phenomenon could not be dismissed. It kind of defied the laws of nature and physics. It was the case that told me that I had to embrace the fact that there’s more out there then you could learn at any college, university or in academia. That continued for a good 12 years and then I began working for a scientific organization…a think tank…that basically adopted the method of approaching phenomena as anomalies, using a very unbiased and objective point of view. We investigated thousands of cases all over the world. After I left I still kept being contacted by people who had unexplained phenomena…whether it was a priest who was doing an exorcism and phenomena was happening in the atmosphere that he couldn’t explain or someone who’s experiencing extreme poltergeist activity in their building when there is no environmental explanation for it. I would go and consult and assess these situations.

MS: Does the fact that you have a theatrical background…performing…help you when you’re investigating? Do you look at something and think, “well, if I was going to do THIS I would start by doing THAT?”
CC: Not in respect to trying to reach a conclusion skepticism wise. When I was with the scientific group they actually tried to re-train us…they wanted us to approach each phenomena objectively. There is something called the “Observer Effect,” which means that when you walk into an environment you actually bring your pre-dispositions with you. So your observations may be tainted. Somebody who believes in ghosts and goes to investigate a phenomena may not be objective while the person who is extremely skeptical is on the other side of the spectrum. So when I go to investigate I try not to walk in with any preconceived bias. I’m open to the possibility of what the phenomenon is…how things can be misinterpreted. People have had what they thought was a poltergeist case only to have it turn out to be an alien abduction case or something like that effect. It’s not always a good thing to try to come to a conclusion too quickly. My background in magic and illusion, of course, assists the fact that when I get a phone call from somebody who says they’re experiencing something and they want me to come out there I insist before I head out there that they have to rule out rationale explanations first. They do so and in 70 – 80% of the cases they find another explanation. I explain to them that, in a psychological arena, things can be misperceived. Whether it be due to their own psychosis over what’s going on or just circumstantial events. So 70 – 80% have rational explanations in that category. But keep in mind there’s another 20 – 30% that, even after you’ve gone through all of the categories, you’re still left with something that truly defies the laws of nature and physics. It’s an anomaly.

MS: Have you ever truly feared for your safety while observing a phenomenon?
CC: I’ve never feared for my life, so to speak, but I’ve definitely been startled. When things pop out at you when you don’t expect them, especially when you’re focused on a phenomenon or an environment. When something jumps out at you or moves, especially when it’s volatile…it does startle you. There’s no question about that. In the thousands of cases I’ve been on…and I’m talking the most volatile ones…I’ve had my nose broken twice. I’ve had my hair burned off three times. I’ve been asphyxiated several times and had my ribs broken. I’m not saying this was done by a creature or a poltergeist or a possession. There are just some kinds of severe phenomenon that are unexplainable.

MS: There are quite a few “reality” shows on television now dealing with the paranormal. Do you watch any of them? And have you ever questioned their findings?
CC: Well, I do understand how the process works for entertainment, especially for television. And the need to ramp something up to something more sensational than came before…with so many television stations they have to keep trying to outdo each other. 20-30 years ago you had a handful of shows. Things like “Unexplained Mysteries.” Things then were more scientific. The integrity level was very high. To answer the first part of the question, no. I really don’t watch. Mostly it’s becase I don’t have the time.

MS: Finally, do you have a favorite experience from all of your years of working?
CC: A favorite experience? (laughs) Wow. There have beem literally thousands of cases of unexplained phenomenon. The most disturbing, obviously, is one where someone is traumatized. I’ve worked hundreds of cases where the victims suffer from PTSD, usually as a result of the experience. Post traumatic stress disorder takes over. This usually happens with possession-type cases. Those are the worse one to get involved with. As for poltergeists, again the cases that come to me are the most volatile in nature so it’s difficult to say which is the most fascinating. I will say that there are cases where you actually observe the phenomenon. You understand the basic laws, like gravity, and when they’re being defied they’re pretty fascinating. It’s extraordinary to see it happening. In the case I’m currently working on…in the center of the house…there’s a phenomenon where all light seems to be absorbed. When you’re in the area you can hear whispers in it…dogs stay away from it. If you put light into it spectrophotometers show that the light is being abnormally observed in this one area then in any other part of the house. To encounter those kind of things is really quite extraordinary!


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Interview with Christopher Moynihan & Dan Fogler

Christopher Moynihan & Dan Fogler are the stars of ABC’s new comedy “Man Up!”, playing the roles of Craig and Kenny (respectively).  Christopher is also the creator and writer on the show.  Dan Fogler is known best for his roles in films like “Balls of Fury” and “Fanboys”.  The show is one of the funniest shows on TV right now easily.  It airs on ABC on Tuesday nights and their second episode is “Star Wars” themed so check it out.  Media Mikes had the chance to chat with Christopher (again) and Dan about the show and what we can expect from their characters.

Mike Gencarelli: You have have been filming for a while now, would you say that you are comfortable with your characters?
Dan Fogler: I think it is growing. Each episode it gets more hysterical and we get more into our skin. As you can tell from the pilot right of the bat it looks like we have been going this for a while. Everyone was really cohesive.  The chemistry from day one was great and we are just having a great time. I think that is going to come through when you watch the show definitely.

MG: You both have love troubles in the pilot, are we going to see any new love interests from your characters?
DF: Yeah!
Chris Moynihan: It is a good question Mike, actually we are going to be seeing quite a few new love interest for me and Dan.  We actually have a new girl for both of us for each episode.  At one point we are dating the girls who work the money and food windows at the local drive-in.  I am dating the first girl and we call her money because she takes out money [laughs].
DF: I date the second girl.  We call her food because she give me my food [laughs].
CM: So every week we have a different set of girls we are going after.
DF: It is like “Three’s Company” in here man.
CM: But…it is like Two’s Company with two more women…like four.
DF: And it all CHRISSIE! [laughs]

MG: Every show has its challenges, what are some of yours for this show?
CM: The truth is from a creative stand point, the only challenge is making something that you like and I think we have done that.  Actually the big challenge is getting people to watch it and getting the network to give it an honest shot.  I think the pilot tracked well, people watched it and hopefully more people will tune it each week.  Hopefully the network will give us a little time while to get our legs.  I have no doubt that we could be a show that people will really dig.
DF: My concerns are that I am hairy like a werewolf. I am really concerned about continuity day to day.  There is a lot of shaving going on.  I think that is going to get weird on my skin after a while.

MG: Dan, what drew you to work on this show?
DF: My wife. She forced me.  No, I loved the show.  I read the script and I thought it was hysterical.  I have been doing a lot of film and I thought it was time for me to break into TV.  I think I picked a winner with this show. I am really excited.  It is my first TV venture and it is really hysterical.  They are really letting me play and I love coming to work.

MG: Tell us about the transition with the character Grant joining your group?
CM: It was tricky thing from a writing stand point.  This is a guy who is sleeping with Kenny’s ex-wife. It was hard bringing him into the group without a little bump. What we did was we had it that Craig and Will really like Grant. He is a good guy.  He is going to be part of the family because Bridgette is going be part of the family because she is the God parent to Will’s kids. That was out way in.  In the second episode, we all sit down to watch “Star Wars” because Grant never has seen it. We figure since he has never seen it, he will watch it and love it and him and Kenny will have something in common. Of course it all goes array.  Our job as writers is to make him part of the group and make it feel organic and natural.  By the third or fourth episode, it is the four of us together and you don’t even question whether Grant should be there.

MG: The promos that you guys have done have been killer, any more plans for those?
CM: We are going to be doing as much as we can.  If you do on YouTube, we have been shooting some fun behind the scenes stuff like Teri Polo naked.  Really if you go on YouTube you can see it. We are trying to get people to watch by lying to them [laughs].  We are going to try to shoot at least one a week and keep posting them and trying to make it go viral.

MG: Any cool guest stars coming up that you want to tell us about?
CM: The big one is Billy Dee Williams.
DF: Yeah, we had Lando come on.  It was awesome. I worked with on “Fanboys”.  We have this sweet scene with him and I together and my God he is one manly space scallywag [laughs] if I have ever seen one.  Working with him was like being on cloud city [laughs].
CM: And Billy does some great dialogue from “Empire Strikes Back”
DF: Yes, there is a lot of “Star Wars” love. So if you are fan…tune it in.

Interview with Mike Christopher

Mike Christopher is known best for his role of the Hare Krishna Zombie in “Dawn of the Dead”.  Mike’s character in that film is one of the most well known zombies ever in films.  Movie Mikes had a chance to chat with Mike about his role and what he is currently working on.

Mike Gencarelli: Tell us about how you became the Hare Krishna Zombie in “Dawn of the Dead”
Mike Christopher: I was playing in a rock band “FLUID” at the time and Mickey Lies (the Machete Zombie’s brother) gave our picture to Romero. The “FLUID” band performed a space themed theatrical show with our music and we all had bald heads. The Sax player, John Paul Musser got the role as the Plaid Shirt/ Airport Zombie. George came up with the idea to have a Hare Krishna for diversity. It was a great role and I just got lucky I guess. Having the bald head was the ticket to play one of those pesky Krishna guyz.

MG: How does it feel to be one of the most recognizable zombies in film history?
MC: It’s actually kind of scary. I think about all these thousands of people who were actually afraid to sleep on the 3rd floor of their parent’s house because of me. I still scare a few people at the conventions. Just last weekend at Saturday Nightmares I noticed a gal laughing hysterically pointing at me. (I was ‘in character’) I got up and started to shamble towards her. She screamed and ran so I began to follow her. She kept running and screaming. I believe she was genuinely terrified.

MG: After “Dawn of the Dead”, you didn’t act again till a few years ago, why was that?
MC: I moved to Los Angeles and performed laser light shows for Laserium and Laser Media. I also made synthesizers and drum machines for Oberheim in Santa Monica, colorized Black and White Movies for Color Systems Technology who was colorizing some of the Turner Library. I also worked in video post for a while before moving to Florida in ’96 and became a Graphic Artist. It wasn’t until after I lost my job in Graphics that I learned of the conventions, then my action figure came out and I started getting roles in indy films when I started networking on mySpace and the Florida film scene.

MG: Any neat behind the scenes stories that you were saving up for this interview?
MC: The best one is when I surprised George Romero at HorrorFind in 2008. I waited in line and he looked up at me, read my badge and said “Mike, you look kinda familliar.” I had a pre signed action figure which I set down on the table in front of him and he looked back up at me saying “You’re the GUY . . . I DON’T FUCKIN’ BELIEVE IT! He stood up and grabbed me in a bear hug and apologized for not recognizing me. “George, it’s been 30 years I said.” I wish I had a movie of THAT!

MG: How can you reflect that with just one role you have such a loyal horror fanbase?
MC: I owe it all to the genius that is George Romero . . . they are actually fans of George’s Hare Krishna character, I just brought the zombie to life or something.

MG: What do you like most about going to horror conventions and meeting fans?
MC: Meeting the fans IS the best part. Musicians don’t get to meet their fans, most other celebs do not get to meet the fans either. I remember a guy telling me he totaled his car on the way to FearFest 2 after hitting a piece of black ice. He was so proud that he still was able to make it. “Dawn Of The Dead” fans are tops. . . I get to hold their children and get my picture in the family album for cryin’ out loud! I remember this guy saying “I can’t believe it’s 3 am and I’m talking to the Hare Krishna Zombie in a hotel hallway.” You can’t put a price on special moments like that.

MG: You recently composed a score for a movie, “Bikini Monsters”, any future plans?
MC: I actually played the role of Captain Nicholson in Bikini Monsters as well as composing music for it. My ghoulfriend Shade Burnett and Richard ‘Spaceape’ Kaltenbock also created music tracks. Spaceape and I played in a band together in the early 70’s which was actually the first incarnation of the bald space band in Pittsburgh.

MG: What other projects do you have planned upcoming?
MC: I’ll be working with Shade on her horror interview show “These Ghoulish Things Remind Me Of You.” and composing more music. No definite new film plans as of yet, just a few possibilities floating around.


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Interview with Christopher Moynihan

Christopher Moynihan is the creator, writer and co-star in ABC’s new show “Man Up!”. It co-star Dan Fogler, Mather Zickel, Henry Simmons, Teri Polo and Amanda Detmer. This show is one of the funniest new show this year. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Christopher about his new show and what we can expect from the season.

Mike Gencarelli: How did you end up coming on board for the show “Man Up!”?
Christopher Moynihan: I created the show as part of deal I had for two pilots with ABC. This is the first one I came to as it has been in my head for a few years. My grandfather was wounded on the beach of Anzio, Italy in WWII and my father was a cop in the Bronx during the riots of the 1960’s. I am just a different breed of guy! I sit around and play video games and talk about “Spider-Man”. I think that we have the luxury in this day and age where we don’t have to go off and fight and do those types of things. Instead we have a person that volunteer to do those things for us which then allows us to be sort of over grown children. I always wanted to do something reflecting this modern man that doesn’t have a lot of chances to do manly thing. Things moved pretty quickly after I pitched the idea to ABC. They bought script and I wrote the pilot. We got really lucky with casting and everyone worked well. From there it moved onto series and things are going well.

MG: How do you go about getting into character and is it directly based on you?
CM: I kind of think that all the guys have pieces of me to them. My guy Craig reminds me of the guy I was in my 20’s. The way I break the three guys up is Will is really a man, Kenny is too much of a child to be a man and Craig is too much of a woman to be a man. I always think Craig is more in touch with his sensitive side and its all in the writing. We spent the whole summer writing these episodes, so its always in my wheel house that Craig is more touchy feely than the other two guys. I think there is a big piece of me that is that so its not too hard for me to get there.

MG: Do you guys have a lot of fun on set?
CM: Yes we really do. I think these television shows live and die by the casting and we really got lucky. It feels like we know each of from when we were kids. We have a lot of fun on set with each other. I feel very fortunate that we all get along.

MG: How do you feel that the show stands out from other comedies currently on television?
CM: I think what you do is you hope your voice is unique and distinct. I have a lot of great writers and I have some bizarre things in my head that I want to get to the screen. I’m hoping that our stuff is different in the sense that it is a network sitcom and its in the vein of what’s working on ABC but you try and set yourself apart by taking different approaches on popular subjects. You have to find a way to put a unique twist on a classic storyline. I think that’s how you set yourself apart.

MG: How many episodes have you filmed so far and do you have a favorite?
CM: We are currently in the process of shooting episode 105 which would make this the fourth episode since the pilot that we have shot. I am really happy with everything we have done so far. Everything comes out of the scripts you write in the summer time. We had six scripts in pretty good shape even before we started shooting episode 102. Everything we have shot so far has been pretty good. I have only seen episode 101 and its really funny however its kind of like looking at your own baby. You think its cute but what do other people think. I really believe its funny and the network seems pleased.

MG: How many episodes have been green-lit?
CM: We have been green-lit the pilot plus twelve episodes. We are shooting number four right now.

MG: Can you give us a sneak preview of what we can expect this season?
CM: We have eight or nine scripts written and the other ones are loosely put together. When we come back Kenny’s ex-wife Brenda has brought a new guy into the group by the name of Grant. Our first episode back Craig and Will try to get Kenny to be friends with Grant as he found out that the other were hanging out with this Grant guy behind his back. The episode is called “Finessing the Bromance”. A lot of the first season is going to be the three guys getting Grant to be a part of their group.

Interview with Christopher Laudando & Scott Meaney

Christopher Laudando & Scott Meaney are the creators of the science fiction graphic novel “Constellation Park”.  “Constellation Park” is sci-fi-fantasy-superhero adventure that will forever change the way you look at the stars! Media Mikes had a chance to chat with these guys about their graphic novel and find out what inspires them.

Mike Gencarelli: Tell us how you come up with the idea for “Constellation Park”?
Christopher Laudando: The idea was inspired by anxiety disorders. We wanted to center a story on a character that thought he was suffering from hallucinations but was actually seeing flashbacks of events that happened to him in the past. However, (spoiler alert!) our main character quickly learns that he is from another dimension.
Scott Meaney: That is the hardest question to answer with this Graphic Novel, the book felt like it actually wrote itself. I think it is just our collective love of the way the 1980’s idealized fantasy movies and how they almost weren’t made for kids.

MG: The book was independently produced, what was your biggest challenge?
CL: The biggest challenge was preventing Scott from going completely insane. He co-wrote this story as well as illustrating the entire book. Madness.
SM: For me, it was drawing 84 pages. It is an endurance test. The writing is fun for me. The drawing is all consuming focus. I get grumpy.

MG: Where did you get the inspiration for the characters?
CL: Like most people my age, I was raised on Spielberg and Lucas films. Characters from their movies completely molded my way of thinking. I would be lying if I said there isn’t any Star Wars sprinkled into the characters of Constellation Park. I also wanted to incorporate my take on the importance of having true friendship. Our story really is about three lonely strangers that ultimately save each other by simply coming into one another’s lives.
SM: Harold Mephisto Jr. is based loosely of Gene Wilder in a few of his roles. Film and literature is a big inspiration for me. “Delorean Grey” is a nod to “Back to the Future” and “Oscar Wilde” at the same time. A strange mash up, I guess.

MG: Why should people pick up a copy of this?
CL: So I can plan my retirement! {Comedic Pause…} But really folks… The story is a lot of fun. I think no matter what type of genre you are a fan of there is something that you can connect with in this book.
SM: It’s unlike anything you have ever experienced…and I need to eat.

MG: When can we expect a follow-up to “Constellation Park”?
CL: We are currently in the process of writing the second installment. It should be out sometime in 2012. “Constellation Park” is going to be a three-book saga. Sound familiar??
SM: I am actually drawing it now as Chris and I write it. A few pages exist in pencil form.

MG: When is the movie adaption coming out?
CL: As soon as a higher power lifts the ban on miracles for Staten Island residents.
SM: Hopefully very very soon. The comic was meant to be very cinematic.

MG: Besides writing, what else do you enjoy doing?
CL: Listening to 90s rock music and watching movies from that era. It was a great time in pop culture. I plan on brainwashing my daughter into believing the same.
SM: Art, music, and conversation. I dunno friend me on facebook and you can read my bio [laughs].

Interview with Christopher Lennertz

Christopher Lennertz is known for his diverse scores ranging from “Alvin and the Chipmunks” to TV’s “Supernatural” to “Vampires Suck”.  Chris recently completed work on the new film “Hop” and is also working on a projects that is very important to him which is called “A Symphony of Hope: The Haiti Project”.  Movie Mikes had a chance to chat with Chris about his new film “Hop”, as well as his upcoming projects.

Mike Gencarelli: Tell us about your score for the film “Hop.” What was your inspiration?
Christopher Lennertz: It’s definitely a family film. I knew it had to have a lot of heart and magic to it. But the other thing that makes it really interesting is that the Easter Bunny wants to be a drummer. In the very first scene when you finally meet him he’s playing drums. So we knew there would be a big element of percussion. So we wanted to give him the personality of this really cool rock and roll drummer. And since it’s Russell Brand it made a lot of sense. (NOTE: Brand provides the voice for E.B. in “Hop”).

MG: When you were composing did you rely on any footage or just character ideas?
CL: We had a lot of footage, but the animation wasn’t finished. We had a lot of footage of the live action characters – James Marsden and those guys. But a lot of the animation wasn’t done…it was blocked out in very rough terms. So I had to imagine. And Tim Hill, the director, would tell me “this is what it’s eventually going
to look like.”

MG: Which score was harder to compose, “Hop” or “Alvin and the Chipmunks”?
CL: I felt it was definitely easier this time around because it’s my second time working with Tim Hill. I know what Tim likes and I feel we have a real comfortable relationship. I feel free to try new things and to look at things in a slightly different way. He lets me try it. We had a great time on this movie…we had a lot of fun. It really was a great
creative experience. We both knew what kind of movie we were trying to make but we both wanted to have the most fun while making it.

MG: You have done quite a few parody films, including “The Comebacks”, “Meet The Spartans”, “Disaster Movie” and the recent “Vampires Suck.” How did you get involved with these films?
CL: “Disaster Movie,” “Meet the Spartans” and “Vampires Suck” were all from the same directing team. We really get along. They like to use me because I know they like their music really BIG! Very over the top. It really plays their comedy well. And Tom Brady, who directed “The Comebacks,” and I really got along well because we both love sports movies and that was the kind of movies the film was parodying. I think I was the right fit for those kind of things. And I like doing comedies. Comedies are really hard to score. People don’t think so, but the comic timing has to be perfect or you can kill a joke. So it’s fun for me to help people tell their jokes.

MG: Is the process any different for creating scores for those type of films?
CL: Well comedy is harder because you have to be part of the joke. It’s like a comic that doesn’t tell the punch line right. If the music is not right on timing right you can actually make the joke not funny. And you certainly don’t want to do that. I love being a part of that. One of my greatest teachers and mentors was Elmer Bernstein, who wrote the music for “Stripes,” “Caddyshack,” “Animal House,” “Airplane!”…all those great comedies…”Ghostbusters.” For me he was the guy that revolutionized scoring for comedies in terms of really having the music be in on the joke. That’s what I really try to do with my comedy music as well. (NOTE: Elmer Bernstein was a 14 time Academy Award nominee who composed the scores for such classic films as “To Kill A Mockingbird,” “The Magnificent Seven,” “The Great Escape,” the original “True Grit” and “The Age of Innocence.” He won the Oscar for his score for “Thoroughly Modern Millie”).

MG: Do you enjoy going from a film like “Hop” to something like the television series “Supernatural?”
CL: I do actually. I’m sort of an ADD guy so it keeps me from getting bored (laughs). I love being able to do different styles of music. Just when I’ve done some really nice family stuff…really sweet themes…I can jump right in and do something scary for “Supernatural.” Get that out of my bloodstream (laughs). I love being able to mix it up.

MG: What has been your hardest score to compose to date?
CL: The one that was probably the hardest score to do, even though it was a short score, was the movie “Adam,” which came out last year. It was a much more serious score. It had comic moments but it was a pretty serious indie movie. It was about a guy that had Aspergers and fell in love. The thing about that movie that made it really rewarding – but also made it difficult – was that it was such an intimate movie. You couldn’t hide behind any visual effects or big explosions or scares…anything like that. You had to be out in the open. It wasn’t a big score. It wasn’t a big orchestra or anything. It was mostly guitars and pianos and cellos. It was about really being subtle and touching on the emotions that the characters were going through. Sometimes it’s hard to do that…to be really exposed and put it out there. We spent a lot of time working on it but in the end it really came out great.

MG: You have done quite a few video game scores. How do you feel that compares to film or TV?
CL: The only major difference is how the score is constructed. You have to write it in such a way where the music has to change depending on how good the player is. But an action piece in a video game will work like an action piece for a movie except where in the movie the character is played by an actor in the game he’s played by the player. I try to approach it in the same way because that’s what people play video games for in the first place. They want to be able to fantasize about being in another world, or the pilot of a ship or a soldier. People play video games for that escapist entertainment. So what I want to do is make them feel like they’re in the middle of that movie…of that battle. That’s what I try to accomplish when I write for video games.

MS: Tell us about your latest project, “A Symphony of Hope: The Haiti Project.”
CL: We actually recorded it last week at Warner Brothers. It was a project that I worked on for a year and three months. I came up with the idea after the earthquake hit. I had been working with a charity in Haiti that is run by a family friend of ours, Tom Hagen. The charity is called Hands Together. They build schools and they feed people and they build wells for clean water and teach people how to farm…they do all of this amazing stuff. When the earthquake hit it just broke my heart. I realized how lucky we were to be where we were and to be safe and healthy. There is so much to do in Haiti…so much catching up to do. I realized that we in the film music community had to do something. So I came up with the idea of inviting a lot of my colleagues and other composers to conceive and write a symphony that is a compilation of all of our work. It’s based off of a Haitian folk song called “Wongolo.” It ended up being a full 50 minute symphony that we recorded with a full orchestra and chorus at the Clint Eastwood scoring stage at Warner Brothers. By the summer we will have a CD out and a DVD documentary about the project. We’re going to try to really raise a lot of money to give back to this foundation so they can build more schools as well as fix the ones that were destroyed in the earthquake. We want to try and bring the people of this country along and give them something to hope for.

Interview with Christopher Young

Christopher Young is an award-winning film composer, who is known for his work on horror movies such as “Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddie’s Revenge”, “Hellraiser” and his latest and my favorite “Drag Me to Hell”. Movie Mikes had a chance to chat with Christopher about his scores and also his upcoming work.

Click here to purchase Christopher’s scores

Mike Gencarelli: “Drag Me to Hell” was one of my favorite scores of 2009, I feel the score adds so much to the film, did you enjoy working on it?
Christopher Young: Well, of course, it was a great opportunity to return to work again with Sam Raimi. Being able to work with him again was a dream come true. Because, being a horror fan, I mean…”Evil Dead”…my God…this was an earth shattering horror film for those of us who love horror movies. And the moment I saw that movie I said to myself, “I have to work with this guy. So here I am fantasizing about working with him…I tried to contact Sam several times…but he was happy with Joe LaDuca and, of course, Danny Elfman at the time. But it happened that his editor, Bob Morowski, was a tremendous fan of mine and, when it became apparent that Danny wasn’t going to be able to work on “The Gift”…that was the first picture we did together…he said to Sam, “you’ve got to check this guy out. I think he’s the right guy for the movie.” I’m truly convinced that Sam and I would never have met if not for his editor. And I give credit to Bob for making that connection. It’s interesting because when I went to meet Sam for the first time I was a smoker. I was a chain smoker and he was too. We realized we both were smokers and he said, “let’s go have this meeting outside.” Now it’s a few years later and he calls me to do “Drag Me To Hell.” He hoped that after doing the “Spider-man” series that the film would give him a chance to return to his “Evil Dead” roots. So he dragged me on board to be a part of that. And I just really connected with the picture. I think it was a film about the Devil (laughs)…and it struck a distant chord with me. I had worked on other films before that dealt with the Devil so it’s not like it was unfamiliar territory. I think three movies before that, come to think of it. So to get the opportunity to return to that world was fantastic. And he encouraged me to take some twists and turns. As you know, the principal instrument on the score is a violin. It’s the instrument that has been historically attached to the Devil, both in music and literature. So there’s nothing I brought to that table that was unique (laughs). What I did try to do, however, that made it fun was to imagine that the violin was being played by a minimum of ten fingers. Everyone that plays the violin, one hand has to be responsible for initiating the pitch, either with a bow or their fingers. And the other hand is responsible for pressing the strings to obtain the pitch. So I said to Sam let’s take the ten fingers and not worry about what the bow is doing…imagine the player has all of these fingers that can stretch and expand and do things that normal violinists can’t do. And he loved that idea. So a lot of the violins material in the score could never be played by just one person. What it is multiple tracking of one guy playing different tracks on top of each other. Other than that, there’s a choir there. That helps. There’s an organ…a pipe organ. I’ve always wanted to use a church pipe organ on a score and this was a great opportunity to use one.

MG: “Hellraiser” has such notable music, did you think that was going to be the case when you originally worked on it?
CY: No. I don’t think any of us knew. I was really lucky to get on this movie because of the provenance of Clive Barker as an author. Of course, he had directed some short films but this was his first feature. I had just finished working on “A Nightmare On Elm Street 2” and that was great to be a part of for sure. But what made “Hellraiser” unique from a composer’s point of view is that it just wasn’t all about a lunatic on the loose, slashing and cutting up people for no real reason. Well, there is a reason behind Freddy Krueger’s attacks on people in their dreams but, let’s face it, it’s not really a reason most people connect with emotionally. But the wonderful thing about “Hellraiser” was that it was a twisted love story…a very sick, sick love story. And to that end it really gave me the opportunity to look at the whole horror genre, as it relates to music, in a different light. And that’s exactly what Clive encouraged me to do. He said, “I know you can do the scary stuff. I know what you did on “Elm Street 2.” But that’s not what I’m looking for here. I’m looking for a sick romantic haunted score. And so I did the score based on that. And I don’t think anyone…I don’t think even Clive knew…that the film was going to be as big of a hit as it was. I may be wrong. Maybe in his heart he knew. We all knew it should have been. And it became a cult classic. And the thing they learned very quickly…he always thought that Julia should be the focus of the film…he thought that audiences would connect with her. But as you know, Pinhead makes his occasional appearances in the movie and that’s what the audience adored. And that’s WHO everyone adored. So he became the star of the whole subsequent series. Even Clive learned a lesson. They loved Pinhead, you know?

MG: Do you ever have issues with distinguishing between sounds for different films?
CY: Good question. Let’s put it this way…every time I start a horror film or a thriller or a sci fi film I always hope that I’m going to be offering up something new. Any composer who isn’t trying to offer up something they’ve never tried before better get out of it. It’s the worrying that you’re going to repeat yourself that makes you anxiety ridden…that you’re not going to get it right. Even if you’d done so many of these movies. I’ve heard so many times from so many people, “Oh, ANOTHER horror movie? You should be able to knock that score out no problem.” And I tell them, “no no no no…don’t kid yourself.” Writing horror scores is no easy thing. Everyone believes that writing dramatic scores…you really have to get inside yourself…and get in touch with your inner self. But there are complications with writing a dramatic score. But when you’re writing horror scores you’re not writing a lot of melodies all of the time. You’re writing a lot of clusters. And writing a lot of clusters for this kind of music is not an easy thing to do. You can’t be random. So when I sit down to write a new score for horror film number whatever or a thriller or a suspense film. I feel the same anxiety. I have to think “what am I going to have to do on this movie to make it unique. And if I’m encouraged by the director or the producer to do something different then great. I will try to do something different. But it’s often the case that what they are really looking for is another “Hellraiser” or another “Jennifer Eight.” I had one film that I worked on that, when I tried to be different they said to me “wait a minute. What are you doing here?” It was like show and tell…the worse show and tell I ever had. And I told them “this might not be what you’re looking for based on what you’re saying” and they said “No, no , no Chris…we hired you because we want another “Jennifer Eight.” Why didn’t they tell me that in the first place. I proceeded to write something that was another take on “Jennifer Eight.” I mean, there’s a film I’m doing now…not the entire score…but the main titles were “temped” with, guess what…”Hellraiser.” That director just happens to love “Hellraiser.” It’s his favorite score. It’s his favorite movie. And I’ve had to try to work my way around that. I can try to give him that feeling but I wrote that score like twenty five years ago! That’s the big tragedy. Being constantly asked to steal from yourself. Very rarely can you out-do something that really worked well the first time. I can honestly say that anyone that works as a composer, or any other kind of art, doesn’t want to repeat themselves. Especially film composers because, as you know, we’re the most prolific music makers on this planet! (laughs) We have very little time to second guess ourselves. So what happens is that we set off with the best of intentions but if that time starts running out and you have to finish about two and a half minutes of music a day at a minimum, it gets to a point where you can’t be so “stiff” with yourself about wanting to reinvent “you.” What happens is you have to rely on instinct, and usually instinct requires that you connect with tendencies that arise from your previous work on those kinds of movies.

MG: You worked on “The Rum Diary”, what was your inspiration?
CY: Speaking of “Jennifer Eight”…the reason I got on that is because Bruce Robinson, the director, is someone I had met on “Jennifer Eight.” He was the director on “Jennifer Eight” and he was so displeased with his experience on that movie that he swore to God that he would never direct again! He’s a very successful writer and actually started out as an actor…he did a few little things and then got into writing. I believe his first Academy Award nomination was for his screenplay for “The Killing Fields.” “Jennifer Eight” is his second film, his first being “Withnail and I.” Now he writes the screenplay for “The Rum Diary,” based on the Hunter S. Thompson book, and Johnny Depp decides he wants that to be his next movie and happens to love…”Withnail and I” is one of his favorite movies. So he brought Bruce out of directorial retirement to direct and Bruce told him he wanted to bring me back to do this. So we reconnected after not having seen each other for so many years. It was a departure for me. Not in the way of style but it was a departure…it’s sort of 1950’s style jazz. It’s got that “Rat Pack” swing-thing going through it. It’s set in Puerto Rico and a lot of the music is influenced by that.

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