Category: Film Scoring


Starship: Rising

StarshipRisingPoster

This year started with the completion of a 60 min score I composed for Sci-Fi veteran director Neil Johnson’s latest feature film “Starship: Rising.”

I had a blast scoring this film! It could be described as an “angry Star Trek” or Game of Thrones in outer space.

The story: “Starship One… the most powerful prototype warship in the Federation, capable of destroying entire worlds. When the order is given to destroy the Earth, Flight Lieutenant John Worthy mutineers Starship One and takes on the might of the entire Federation.”

Starship is introducing British actor Darren Jacobs as Captain John Worthy and rising star pop music phenomenon Emily Rose Morison aka “Emii” in the role of Jolii. But also veteran actors such as EJ De La Pena (Jingle All The Way) and Claudia Wells (Back to The Future).

Neil’s main request about how to go to the music was that it must be dark. Really dark. Heavy low brass and low string sections where used in combination of humongous percussions and very deep synthesizer basses to create what is to these days the darkest score I have ever composed!

Starship’s world is vast and at times I also introduced ethnic instruments, including Duduk and Sitar, played in very unusual ways in search of the most alien sound I could possibly come up with. I had a lot of fun creating specific themes for sets of character, my favorite one of course being the theme for the captain and general rivalry which culminates in an incredible duel of Starship in a giant gas planet storm.

I tried to convey with the score that sense of old chivalry values that seem to survive within a world torn apart by war and corruption, where new heroes rise from the fallen.

Starship: Rising will be the first of a series of 3 movie, and the challenge in “Rising” was to also make the score to gradually go toward the direction of Starship 2 or “Apocalypse,” which I look forward to be scoring as well.

Starship: Rising has found international distribution and is set to be released this year.

Below is the “Starship: Rising” trailer, featuring also a music theme I composed:

Here is also an interview I gave discussing further the process of scoring Starship: Rising which will be included in the DVD bonuses (interview starts after the trailer):

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SHADOWED

Shadowed Poster

In 2012, I had the opportunity to score Joey Johnson’s feature film titled “Shadowed.” I was asked to create a haunting score to go with this story that takes place deep into the woods of the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State.
The score of “Shadowed” is mostly orchestral, with bits of industrial techno/rock. It was very interesting to make the score grow with the film, as “Shadowed” is a flash back driven story. A group of friends go on a camping trip to fresh out their minds from the terrible events that happened 6 months before: the death of Sophia.

One of the most interesting theme that I developed for the film was Liebning’s, the vilain of the story. He is the owner of a bar/brothel and the music that plays in the bar is industrial-techno. At the beginning I was not supposed to score music for these scenes in the bar but very quickly, the idea that the bar music becomes Liebning’s theme through out the film grew strong in me and Joey really liked the idea. It leaded me to make some cool orchestral interpretation of this techno theme through out the film as part of the background score, growing into industrial-rock in one of the most important scene with him. It created an ominous presence of his character through out the whole film that I am very proud of.

“Shadowed” will be represented this year at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival Market or “Marché du Film!” Additionally, it will be an official selection at the 2013 Seattle International Film Festival. Also “Shadowed” won the audience choice award at the local 2012 Tacoma Film Festival in Washington.

A pretty impressive line up for what is Joey Johnson’s first feature film screenplay and feature film directing debuts!
If you get a chance to watch the film definitely feel to post in this section about it. You can also visit the film’s official website at http://www.shadowedmovie.com and on the facebook page here:
https://www.facebook.com/shadowedmovie?fref=ts

Meanwhile you can hear the main theme of the film on the main page of my website, as usual: http://www.charleshenriavelange.com Enjoy!

SIFF 2013 Poster

Hallmark: Jingle All The Way

In summer 2011, I was proposed to score a very special project. I was commissioned to compose the music of the Hallmark “Jingle All The Way” animation special which premiered on the Hallmark Channel on November 25th 2011, and then played several time all through out the holidays.
Jingle All The Way Premiere

Working on “Jingle” lead me to a wonderful collaboration with director Chel White, whose work I already admired for a couple years prior to meeting with him. So working with Chel is kind of a dream come true. His studio is the one that produced the film, Bent Image Lab, one of the best stop motion animation studios in the US.

Scoring the film had its own challenges of course. First of all, The film — about 22 min running time — needed constant music. All orchestral. The version of the film I was scoring still had story board inserted for scenes that weren’t done yet. So for example one shot was having the animation, but the next one would be rough black & white drawings moving. However they would last the exact length of what the animated scene is supposed to be. All dialogues and sounds FX where in place as well, so that was helping a lot.

This is where working with Chel was great. He knew exactly what he wanted and was very good at leading me into what the music should accomplish for the pictures. This score is definitely the fruit of my collaboration with him. One other challenge that I also had to deal with, is that “Jingle” is part of the whole “story bud” product line, which at the beginning started as a book and an interactive plush toy, that reacts to certain key sentences when you read the book. Well, so is the film! The kids are supposed to watch the film with the plush, and certain dialogues in the film trigger the puppy plush to bark and make all sorts of noises at those moments. My responsibility as the composer was to make sure that the music does not interfere with that process at those very moments. And it was tricky… it was hard to determine which type of instrument/frequencies were interfering (high violin lines were most of the time the killer), so I had to take it into consideration while scoring the film.

I was invited to go down to Portland, OR and visit the animation studios, and saw pretty much an army of artists at work! It was like walking into Disneyland. Man, a live “Making Of”! I saw all the machines involved to take the shots, the lights, the multiple sets, how they make the puppets from the metal articulated skeleton to the silicon used to make their skins! It was awesome.

As Chel was giving me the tour, I just couldn’t help but notice all these bags and buckets full of… powdered sugar! Lots of it. I mean, TONS of it! What could they possibly use it for?? Well guess what… in “Jingle All The Way” there is a lot of… SNOW. Yes, snow. That’s how the snow you see all along the film is made: with powdered sugar. As the people at Bent were telling me more about it, I ended up hearing stories about ants problems etc… imagine that. I asked Chel “Does the company you order all that sugar from have any idea what you are using it for?” and he replied with a smile “probably not” 🙂

In the end the whole project turned out fantastic! The New York Times called it “By far the best of the bunch!” in their review of all the animation films for the holidays (You can check out the review here: http://tv.nytimes.com/2011/11/24/arts/television/jingle-all-the-way-the-elf-on-the-shelf-and-more-christmas-cartoons-television-review.html). See for yourself on this video below: a 3 min little overview of the whole film, featuring some of the music I composed:

You can also listen to more music from “Jingle All The Way” on my website (http://www.charleshenriavelange.com)
Of course, being the composer of this film leads to cute little trivias, such as the one time I walked by a Hallmark store in Seattle with my wife: We were looking at the display with the whole Jingle set — Plush, book and DVD — and an old lady comes to me saying “Isn’t it adorable? Have you seen it?” and I replied “Oh I am glad you like it so much, I made the music for it!”. She stared at me for a few seconds, completely immobile just like she could have seen a ghost… only to finally answer “Well, congratulations, young man!”

But then you also browse the internet and find the cutest things just like the video below, where young Lukas’ REAL husky pup named JAX interacts with Jingle (and what a thrill to hear the music through his TV’s speaker!!)

Director Chel White and I at the Portland premiere of Jingle

Director Chel White and I at the Portland premiere of Jingle

Holding the original puppets of Andrew and Jingle used for the film!

Spinning

This year was marked by my second collaboration with Director John Jacobsen and Producer Chris Oliver on the film titled “Spinning”.

John and Chris are the filmmakers behind “Arthur” which has won several awards since it was released last year.

Scoring “Spinning” was in interesting challenge. The score is very atypic and does not resemble anything I have done so far. There are 2 themes in the film and both of them are audible simultaneously. But each one being hidden inside the other one. The difficult part came from the fact that both themes are complete different musical genre, which really made it hard to combine them.

The subject of the film is about how sometimes we are so stuck in the past, we don’t even see anymore the present in front of us. It shows how passively destructive such a behavior can be.

For those of you who had the chance to watch “Arthur”, you will recognize in “Spinning” actresss Bhama Roget (the mom) and Sarah-Eve Gazitt (the little girl).

“Spinning” was written by Ramona Guentzel and just entered the festival circuit by being an official selection of the 2011 Columbia Gorges Film Festival.
You can visit the film’s website here: http://www.spinningmovie.com

Spinning's Official Poster

This year has been quite fruitful and among other projects I have been working on, composing the official Anthem for the University of Washington 150th Anniversary TV campaign was certainly a fun gig but among everything, a honor.

3 different versions of the TV spot exist, the main Anthem (video below) as well as a version focusing primarily on UW Medicine and the last one focusing on the well known aviation company Boeing.
The spots have been airing for a few weeks now on local Washington State’s TV stations such as King 5.

Enjoy!

I am proud to announce that I am the composer of my first national TV show “Official Best of Fest”. The TV show started as a Pilot on Seattle’s local PBS station KCTS 9 back in October 2010. The audience loved it and the show got boosted at national level on the PBS channel and is currently aired on more than 170 stations across the country and even in British Columbia, Canada.

Official Best of Fest is a series of 30 episodes hosted and produced by director Rick Stevenson. It presents each week the best short films across the globe. The entire program is also available as DVD sets sold through out major retailers across the USA. You can find them by theme (family, chick flick, comedy etc…)

To see if Official Best of Fest is aired in your area, just go on the PBS Channel’s website (www.pbs.org) and enter there your zip code and the name of the show.

I will let you discover one of the show’s trailer featuring some of the music I did for the show, in HD:

Arthur

During the summer of 2010, I had the opportunity to score the short film Arthur. The film was directed by John Jacobsen (The Artist Toolbox, Around The Fire…) and was made in order to showcase the best of film making that can be accomplished in Washington.

It was quite challenging to work on this film. The deadline was tight to start with (nothing new there 🙂 But the film has very few dialogues and therefore the music is an extremely important component of the film. At this point, it becomes the story teller. But in addition, John wanted the music to stand by itself as a musical piece without the pictures, while synchronized to each of his cuts.

I did the job in one full week. The score ended up being really great, full orchestral and a Boychoir on top of it! The film was largely acclaimed during the world premiere at the SIFF cinema on October 9th 2010. The film was played in front of a full house (400 people). For the fun facts, the film is starring Aaron Hart, who not only is the youngest actor to ever receive a Screen Actor Guild Award, but happen to star in another film that I will be scoring, which was in production before I got attached to “Arthur”. So I ended up meeting him on the set of ZERO POINT (another film that I will soon post about) and then got to score a film where he was starring… So at this point, I will soon have two film starring Aaron Hart in my resume 🙂 Funny how it goes sometimes.

So far, Arthur won the Best of Fest award and is currently an official selection at the 2011 Sedona International Film Festival

The music I did for it will soon be available for listening on my website, so make sure to check it out!

Arthur's Poster