Articles And Features
Alden Robinson: The Sum Of All Scores
The acclaimed director
of Field Of Dreams and Sneakers returns with a tense cold war
thriller for the Summer 2002 season - The Sum Of All Fears.
Based on Tom Clancy's novel, it sees the return of CIA Analyst
Jack Ryan, now played by Ben Affleck, and also stars Morgan Freeman.
The big budget thriller unites Phil Alden Robinson with composer
Jerry Goldsmith for the first time and I was fortunate enough
to quiz the director on their collaboration in this exclusive
How did you decide on Jerry
Goldsmith for your new film?
wanted to work with Jerry (who wouldn't?), and when we found
that our schedules were compatible, I leapt at the chance.
Have you ever tried to collaborate
with Jerry Goldsmith before, but for one reason or another have
not been able to?
the first opportunity, although we had met once before when Fred
Schepisi introduced us during scoring for "Mr. Baseball".
What scores of Jerry Goldsmith
have impressed you the most, any personal favourites that mean
a lot to you?
"Patton" and "Chinatown" really floored me.
And I am a great fan of his score for "The Russia House"
(another Fred Schepisi collaboration).
At what stage did you start
thinking about music for TSOAF and how important is film music
to you as part of the film making process?
Neil Travis, was cutting temp music as he cut picture, so right
from the start of shooting we were formulating our ideas of what
the music would be.
Music is crucial to and
inseparable from movies. It's no accident
that movies had music before they had dialogue.
What kind of score did
you want for TSOAF?
different from the usual action fare. Emotional, ironic, but
pulsing and tense when it needed to be.
When it comes to the music,
how much did you collaborate with Jerry Goldsmith on the score?
Were you very hands on or did you leave the composer to effectively
get on with it and come to you with all the ideas?
the film together - picked where music should stop and start
- and then he began to write. As he'd finish a reel, he'd call
me up, and I'd go by his office to listen to the arrangement
he had recorded on the synth, which approximated what the whole
orchestra would be playing. I'd sometimes have a minor comment
or two, but usually he'd be spot on.
Could you briefly run through
the timetable for the music elements for TSOAF. I.E. From initial
contact with the composer and hiring to the actual music editing
we were talking extensively from early fall, we finally turned
over the movie to him in December or January (I don't recall),
and scored in March.
Were there any dramatic last
minute changes to the score, alternate cues written for differently
edited scenes, music dropped/added/edited?
there were minor alterations made on the scoring stage (take
out the horns in these two bars so the strings stand out ...
extend a sustain at the end of a cue ... that sort of thing).
What was the temp score
for TSOAF and how did you play the film for Jerry Goldsmith first
time out, with or without the temp track?
score was from a variety of other movies, so the cues would work
okay for each scene, but weren't thematically linked. I did play
the picture for Jerry with the temp score, and then we gave him
a videotape without any music for him to work from.
What were your initial reactions
when you got to hear the music played properly for the first
time with a live orchestra? How important is it for you as a
director to be present, is it a confidence builder as the final
parts of the jigsaw fall into place?
sessions are my absolute favourite part of the filmmaking process.
To watch the best musicians in the world play music written by
a master - music that no one has ever heard before - is a unique
thrill. It is important for the director to be present, because
there is usually one small thing you'll hear in some cue that
needs to be tweaked - something that for dramatic reasons needs
to be altered a touch. And Jerry is such a great collaborator
that he likes the extra set of eyes and ears.
How did the idea of including
a song from the score come about?
Jerry's idea. He had written the opening theme and felt the melody
might be translatable into a pop song. When I heard the cue,
I agreed wholeheartedly. It was also his idea to bring on Paul
Williams to write the lyrics. The studio then suggested a wonderful
producer named Trevor Horn - one of the best - to produce the
record, and the Grammy-Award winning singer Yolanda Adams.
While working with Jerry
Goldsmith on TSOAF was there any memorable moments that stood
out for you?
process stands out for me - his brilliance, his encyclopaedic
musical knowledge, his comprehensive understanding of how music
works with picture, and the generosity of his collaboration.
Also, watching the total awe and respect the musicians hold him
in. It was all a sheer delight.
What did you learn from
working with Jerry Goldsmith on TSOAF?
I'd heard about him - his brilliance and kindness - were true.
Did Jerry Goldsmith's score satisfy your vision
as a film maker?
What are your future plans
and would you seek out Jerry Goldsmith again to collaborate on
finally decided on what's next, but I'd work with Jerry anytime.