Tag: Mercury Cinema
Silent Remasters 2009 – New Scores for Silent Films
On Thursday the 26th of November at 7.30pm, the 2009 season of the Media Resource Centre‘s ‘Silent ReMasters’ program brings to the people of Adelaide the first of four classic silent films, each driven by an exciting new musical score. Each score will be performed live by a variety of ensembles, ranging from solo DJ-driven sets through to orchestras with upwards of twenty instrumentalists. The initiative has run annually for several years now, and goes from strength to strength. The screening event series is proudly supported in 2009 by APRA and Billy Hyde Music.
Supermarket has the launching honours this year and I will be augmenting Robert Wiene’s classic horror film with a variety of electronic and electro-acoustic beats from dub through to drum ‘n’ bass. Expect the cobwebs to be blasted out of this pioneering film of the genre, as I play live overdubs on a strange miscellany of intrumentation, including a theremin.
It’s been an intense couple of weeks setting up and then setting to work in my home studio. It’s been great to get back to making music in a concentrated way.. I’ve not spent so much uninterrupted time making music since Emma Sterling and I launched Supermarket way back in 2007. While at this stage our re-score is a one-off performance, we’re hoping to tour with the work in the future, and will be looking into the possibility of a remix project and subsequent release. Feel free to contact us if you’re interested in booking a performance in your town in the future.
For several years now, Adelaide’s Media Resource Centre has been running a music production initiative for emerging screen composers called Silent Remasters. After applying for the privilege of performing an original live re-score of a silent movie classic in two previous years, it appears third time’s the charm and Supermarket is on this year’s recipient list. Now I am faced with the equally daunting and exhilerating task of composing and preparing a brand-spanking new electronic score for the horror classic The Cabinet of Dr Caligari… ready for performance in less than three weeks!
I was first introduced to Robert Wiene‘s psychological thriller some years ago through a friend with obscure and fascinating taste. Produced in 1920, the film struck me with its dramatic use of light and shadow and the obvious influence of expressionistic painting in the often oblique and wild set designs. For a film of its age, its pace is a little slow but it holds up much better than the majority of works of its age. The likes of Rob Zombie, Tim Burton and countless other artists (past and present) have drawn direct influence from this film and it’s a pleasure to be given the chance to work directly with such a precious piece of cinema’s history. As an exploration of madness and monstrosity, the film brought to light themes that have continued to sustain the horror and thriller genres through decades of permutations.
My proposal for the new soundtrack to the film includes a variety of instrumentation- no honky tonk pianos or string ensembles in sight. A sampler, microphone, delays & fx, an accordian, several synthesizers, some percussion and a theremin will all be put to work. I will be performing the score as Supermarket, though at this stage Emma Sterling (who usually manages the VJ’ing role in our regular audio-visual sets) will not be taking the stage. The film runs a length of 72 minutes, so I’ll be breaking the score into ‘themes’… remixing versions of arrangements at different instances during the film. A necessary design decision to make the task of fulfilling the brief achievable in the tight three weeks of allowed schedule.
Once I have some of the score recorded, Em and I will float a 30 second trailer online and give you all a taste of what lucky cinema-goers in Adelaide will be privvy to on the night of November 26th. The screening starts at 7.30pm, and there will be two short silent films preceding The Cabinet of Dr Caligari… La Folie du Docteur Tube (1915) and Windsor McKay’s Dreams of the Rarebit Fiend: The Pet (1922). Windsor McKay is one of the great early pioneers of animated film, and both shorts promise to showcase some impressive special effects that place them far in advance of their years of production.
The Silent Remasters program runs for four nights of original performed re-scores over two weeks. Full details are available on the Mercury Cinema’s website.
Monday night’s Lateral Movement event was everything Em and I had hope it would be: diverse, inspiring, convivial and well-attended. After technical testing and preparation sprawling over three days, we managed to present the program of thirty works (7 installed and 23 screened in cinema) almost without compromise, and much of it in crisp and wonderful high definition. The one exception to the rule was a late omission, ‘The Juiced Carrots’ by CarrotKid, the file of which refused to play ball with the HD digital projector in the Mercury Cinema. Since Carrotkid’s work made it into the program but not onto the big screen, the least we can do is embed it below for your enjoyment.
The Juiced Carrots from Carrotkid on Vimeo.
The icing on the cake for Em and I was the inclusion of a live international video chat with filmmaker Lee Citron, who joined us (virtually speaking) in the cinema direct from California, USA via the wonder of Skype. Lee’s delightful and darkly comical suburban tale ‘Idiot Box’ closed the program with verve and sass, and it was a great pleasure to talk with him after the credits rolled and have him field some questions from the audience.
The foyer installs proved popular and illuminated the space with seven flickering screens featuring silent, looping works. The crowd gathered eagerly and early, and remained focused through the broad-ranging works featured in the two 45 minute cinema brackets. A ‘People’s Choice’ award was voted for on the night, with the prize going to Maurice Braun of Germany for his dynamic visual music piece Licht | Geschwindigkeit. Shot entirely in still photographs on a digital SLR, the work features powerful rhythmic editing and playfully fuses movement and electronic music with deft and aplomb.
Licht | Geschwindigkeit from Maurice Braun on Vimeo.
I sincerely hope the fifty or so lucky Adelaide screen culture-vultures who attended were as inspired by the works as we were- and that this proves to be the beginning of something special here in our beloved home town of Adelaide.
Em and I must extend our sincere gratitude to the attending audience, the exhibition manager from the Media Resource Centre, Toby Bramwell and the 2009 BigPond Adelaide Film Festival for affording us this great opportunity to share something special with our community. Further thanks are due to featured artist Jimmy McGilchrist for his wonderful assistance in promotion and logistics- and the South Australian Living Artists’ Festival for loaning us DVD players to run the installation works in the foyer.
For those unable to attend, here’s a clip from the Skype chat with filmmaker Lee Citron from Monday the 23rd… See you at the next one!