In July, Simon Franglen was in Malaga, Spain and our colleague and collaborator Asier G. Senarriaga took the opportunity to conduct the following exclusive interview for SoundTrackFest. A great and extensive interview, full of very interesting information, which we hope you will like!
Hello Mr. Franglen, first of all, Thank You so much for the opportunity of this interview, here for us, SoundTrackFest, during the MOSMA 2023 Edition, truly an honor.
We would love to start talking about your last big project, of course, Avatar The Way Of Water. What film music fans around the world would love to know is, which is the process concerning the creation of such a gigantic score for such a big film? Working so much time in advance from the early stages to the recording sessions until obtaining the final score within the movie.
Sure. I have done three films and one theme park score for James Cameron (Titanic, Avatar, Avatar The World of Pandora, and Avatar The Way Of Water), so I have been involved in all his major projects since 1997. Well, in that regard, I know what it is going to happen at every step of the way with James. He is very very easy to work with, because what he asks me to do is to be happy with my work first and foremost and then I have to please James, and nobody else. I don’t have to worry about studio, producers, artists, ….
James tries to be the audience, one of his great skills is his ability to put himself in the cinema in advance, like if he was paying the ten dollars’ ticket to watch the film, and there is, where he tries to be, when he is listening the music I present to him:
“Do I believe this cue? Do I believe the vision behind this music? Do I feel it is something special, something unique?” are questions that Jim asks himself while listening. And the way we work is, “nothing gets in until Jim is happy with it”, not a single note, and sometimes it would be the first note, or the first time I played a theme to Jim, and Jim is happy and that’s it, or I have to play him some cue many many many times until he is happy with it, or it needs a rework or many reworks to find his blessing.
The first themes I wrote for the movie were composed in 2018, the first was “The Songcord”, the song performed by Neytiri at the beginning and end of the movie, with the lyrics in Na’vi, and the orchestral version of it, and then the theme of the arrival of the Tulkun and their reunion with the Metkayina people. All of this off the script, from the screenplay directly, no visuals yet available. These themes just came to me; I was inspired just by reading the script.
Then, the era of Covid arrived, the lockdown and everything else and delayed everything. I went to New Zealand in the beginning of 2022, in January.
Yes, we saw your post at Facebook at that point, “Arriving at New Zealand for a whole year of work” haha.
And it was!, haha, I probably wrote 10 hours of music, and I recorded with orchestra five hours of music, with a full orchestra. And then the mix came, and finally there are 3 hours of music in the final film.
So, there are times when if something is perfect …, well, I will give you an example. “Into The Water”, the track when the children jump into the water, I did that cue five or six times, just for myself, until I was happy with it. Then, when I was happy I went and played it to Jim. And Jim said “Yes!!!, I love IT!”. And then that cue never changed.
Don’t touch a thing.
Exactly, don’t touch a thing! haha. I remember I just added some piano ripples, but that’s it. The cue never changed and went into the film. He was just happy.
For the “Payakan” theme, for instance, I demoed that up, 9 or 10, or 11 times, just for myself, until I was happy. Then I led it to him, and first time he listened, Happy. And it never changed, and into the film.
That’s beautiful. You know, the “Hometree” theme, in the first digital release, and then into the second one, the more complete edition, the name changed, why was that?
Yes!, the name changed because Jim thought that “Hometree” was That specific tree, the tree that came down in Avatar 1, and he asked me: “Could you change the name?”. And I said: “Of course!”.
He felt that the name of the cue was too connected with the history of the first film.
I thought that could be the reason, yeah, talking about this particular theme now, we think it is the heart and soul of the score, we love it so much, its different parts and the evolution of the melody until the final powerful orchestral pay off. I particularly feel chills and a profound emotion listening to it every time.
Oh, Thank You very very much!, that means a lot to me. Because the second paragraph of the script says: “Naytiri sings The Songcord (a melody that it is ancient and profound)”.
We wanted something that felt like written thousands of years ago.
It felt exactly like that.
Thank You! Well, that’s when we composed The Songcord Theme, and from the theme, “Leaving Home” (“Hometree” in the first digital edition) was born, and the main musical material of The Way of Water with it.
I started playing at the piano for a long time, and suddenly this theme arrived. I called Jim and showed it to him, and he loved it.
And you know…
Don’t touch a thing!
Don’t touch a thing, exactly, haha.
My goal was finding a melody that were felt like written thousands of years ago, and made the audience feel the connection, the history, the legacy, you know, from mother to daughter, from father to son. And the melody was essential in how Zoe Saldanha needed to perform the song. Jim called it The Family Theme.
Yes, you feel the sense of Heritage in the song, transmitted from a generation to the next generation and so on, something that it is very difficult to achieve musically, and you succeeded tremendously I must add.
Thank You very much indeed. I am very proud of that.
Is there something you would love to share with us about the recording sessions process, maybe one last minute decision with the music, that was not obtained in the compositional time but in the very last minute?
Yes, we had an evolution, you know, because due to all the Covid protocols we had and all the protocols we had to implement, I found that there were times when all was new and needed to learn about the new circumstances. During the recording sessions, while I was in New Zealand in 2022 everything was remote, and I was not being able to be as free as I would be in the same place that the orchestral sessions were taking place but I adjusted and learn from it. For example, my demos are very good and detailed, we built a template that worked perfectly and that helped a lot.
I must make a shout out to Steven Baker and Graham Foote, members of my team, for building the temp along with me, they did an amazing job, it has life and it sounds very good, and what I mean is that helped immensely when I had to show Jim a theme, he could listen to it and understand what I intended with the music instantly.
And not talking about Jim specifically but about directors in general, directors are not as skilled musically as they could be visually or aesthetically or with the shooting process and so on, so it is always better when you can provide them with a better idea of what they are going to hear and how it is going to sound before the recording arrives. And Jim and I talk a lot about things, he always gave me his notes, but he often cut my music in the Avid, he cut it up, and I have to interpret it and create from the cuts. Sometimes the cuts are not even musical at all, but a way for me to understand how Jim wants the emotions to flow from the editing of the movie and with my music.
Ok, for example, here, three seconds of silence before the music starts again?
The moving pace of the film being the music an integral part from the very beginning in the editing room.
That’s it, exactly! during the composition time, you know, the score is evolving, and sometimes he would hear something that I had recorded on another cue and said: “I like this a lot! could you use it here?”.
I give you an example, he liked that there was a rhythm and an aggression in the “Train Attack” sequence (he hums the orchestral ostinati). He asked me: “Can we use this in the Na’vi Attack?”. And I had a different Na’vi Attack cue, like a big traditional orchestral moment, but we changed it and he was ecstatic, he was so happy. An another day he came to us and said: “I have tried this here”, and we both look at each other and said: “Yeah! it’s better”, haha.
You know, sometimes you have a discussion, and sometimes you try to show your point, and sometimes you get along, because sometimes you see the clarity through other people’s eyes too. And that mayhem of war in the scene was perfect with Jim’s idea of the new placement of the music.
We think you achieve, in that mayhem of war, to let the audience feel the humanity factor through your music, even with a race like the Na’vi, that are from another planet of course, but whom we can relate, those are people fighting for their people, for their families, for their planet.
If you don’t mind I would love to share an anecdote, premiere day of The Way Of Water here in Spain, the cinema was packed, I went with a dear friend, and in the moment of the jump of the Payakan…
In that moment I was literally in tears, pure emotion, and the people around me, all of them were crying, and trying not to cry at the same time…
…almost on the verge of standing up, of pure exhilaration. And that was beautiful, and I needed to share it with you.
That’s great! haha, beautiful.
I must add that at the end of the movie there was a huge clapping and a standing ovation, and even when people finished the clapping, your name pop up in the credits and I started to clap again harder and louder, and a lot of people with me. I was crying again at that point, that was truly an unforgettable movie night.
Ooohh! Thank You so much!!! (Very moved). I need to have you at every cinema, Thank You with all my heart.
You’re very welcome, it was a magnificent movie and an extraordinary score, and your work I think was essential in the great success.
Thank You for all the astounding work you have done for Avatar and for maintaining the legacy of James Horner alive with your gorgeous music and taking care so well of his work. Because you have provided The World of Pandora with your own touch, but James Horner is in every note. Thank You for that.
You’re very welcome (extremely moved and showing gratitude in his eyes)
Ok, can you tell us the story about the scoring of The Magnificent Seven, the themes that James Horner wrote before his tragic passing, and how you contacted with Antoine Fuqua and the possibility for you of composing the rest of the score as a tribute to James?
James and I met in London together a week before he died, we were working in the themes for The Magnificent Seven, and he flew back to Los Angeles, I think the night before the day he died and the next morning I had a call from Jim Henrikson, our long time music editor and I flew out to Los Angeles to deal with all we have to deal with, and I talked to the team, I talked to J.A.C. Redford, Jim Henrikson, Joe Rand, Simon Rhodes, and I said, I think we need to use the demos properly. James would have wanted us to finish them.
And Simon Rhodes and I finished them and that was the moment when I needed to contact with Antoine Fuqua. We have just done with Antoine Southpaw. I flew down to Louisiana where he was shooting Magnificent Seven and met him. And I said to him:
“Antoine, these are the themes James composed for Magnificent Seven, they are finished, we think you should have them”.
Antoine told me afterwards, “Simon, I think, you should finish the score, my man, for James”.
And that’s how we did. We just wanted to honor James, give all our best, for him, for all he gave us, to honor him…
And I hope he was proud of all we did.
(Almost crying after listening this) I am sure he was smiling at Heavens. Ok, let’s move now to another collaboration, what can you tell us about your experience with Terrence Malick?
Oh, I have done two projects with Terrence, I have the immersive 3 Dimensional thing with Facebook and Voyage of Time A Life’s Journey. Terry is great, I would write a theme or a leit-motif, and Terry would tell me: “Oh, I love that, why don’t you try another one?”.
And so, I would write another one, and usually when I have written 20 or 30, he would tell me, “you know what, I think I shall like the first one”.
But it is not that he can’t make up his mind which it is different, with Terry it is like he would like to see all the options first before choosing the right one (and sometimes that one was the first), to see what else was available, to see what else could be done for every case, which I completely understand. I don’t mind if I have to do the same thing a hundred times if it serves to find the right theme. If you like the first the greatest.
With Voyage of Time we have certain things like the virus, and I made this thing with tritones because he can talk to me musically, you know, and he is a very very musical person and it was very easy to communicate and to find the goals with the music. We had a lot of fun working together, I think he is phenomenal.
We have to address this at this point, please elaborate, which would you consider are your highlights in your collaboration along the years with James Horner, the most important moments of fulfillment or your most precious achievements together?
I think probably the first ever thing I did for James. That was the cue “The Sinking” in Titanic. I had a VHS cassette with the scene at that time (we were late 1996, early 1997 at that point) and Don Davis was orchestrating for him. I thought the film was astonishing. And then, I remember when we were trying to build what finally was the synth choir patch for “Taking Her To Sea, Mr. Murdoch”, cue that was going to be performed by the Hall of Boys Choir. But we had no money, so Ian Underwood and I, we built this Synth Patch with seven different synthesizers and a synclavier to fulfill that glorious moment of build up when the ship starts to get its momentum and the engines starts to go full power.
Recently, when we did the Live concert, we have the opportunity of looking back, and J.A.C. Redford and me, we have the master tapes and we look and saw that almost 3 minutes 40 of the cue was all fake, all synthesizers with orchestra in the last 90 seconds. We did a good work there.
Another instant of magic was that moment with Jake and Neytiri in Avatar, when he learns to fly and that first dive. That was the moment we all realize that, that was very very very special.
We got to do unique things, you know, he was a very close friend (very emotional moment for Simon), he was my closest friend, we talk to each other most days, I should probably have chosen to go composing on my own years before, but we have such a great team, such a great ambient of work, such brotherhood, that we all were family, we enjoy working together, and I would not have changed that for the world, that fabulous work relationship was magic.
And, you know (expressing it very emotionally), James was great, beyond words, what I love about him was his ability to understand how music merged behind the picture, I think he was the best.
Yeah, giving a soul to the story, not only a heart, because he was the best giving a heart to every story.
And to talk about some favorite moments in James’ career, were you involved by instance creating some of the The Amazing Spider-Man themes?
I did a lot on Spider-Man.
“Saving New York” for example?
That was my arrangement.
Oh. My God!!!, that is my favorite cue of the score, goosebumps every time! The moment with the cranes, Holy Molly! Exhilarating!
Haha, Thanks, that cue was one of my arrangements for the movie (humming the melody), I spend a good amount of time on that cue and I am very proud, thank you!
I must say at this point that being a member of the IFMCA, that was my favorite score of that year.
Oh, I have to say about the IFMCA, oh, please, I have to thank everybody awarding in 2021 my score for Turandot and my award for Avatar The Way of Water this year, Thank You So So Much!. You all are being very very kind to me and I appreciate it very very much.
It is all deserved, big time. And I love by the way, Notre Dame On Fire, it is a beautiful score and we can talk as well about the collaboration between James and Jean-Jacques Annaud through the years, and now with you in this film. Please, can you tell us how was the work with Jean-Jacques?
Jean-Jacques is a very very good friend of mine, I worked with him first in Black Gold with James and then there is a film called Wolf Totem, it is a Chinese film, and I went to China with Jean-Jacques for previous work before composing that score.
To find the sound of the movie, to see if we could use a Chinese orchestra, to find some Mongolian singers and Mongolian musicians, even instruments of the area for creating the score. Jean-Jacques and I spend time in Beijing and in Mongolia finding these singers and performers and really became good friends there. Then we came back to London to record the score, and it was a very collaborative process, I was even producing the score. We have been great friends since then, and when James died, he was doing a TV Series, The Truth About Harry Quebec, and he contacted me to write the score.
Then he called me one day, and ask me to fly to see something he was preparing and there explained to me what he was trying to accomplish, it was Notre Dame On Fire. We were to the Saens Cathedral in Burgundy in France to record the 500 years old bells, I sampled them and did unusual things like throwing metal balls on these 500-year-old bells to get certain sounds to use in the score. For example, the sound of water and lead plumbing (like moving through a pipe) to get sounds of the metal ceiling melting and recording the sound of the bells for sampling otherworldly textures. The film opens and closes with the sound of these bells.
I wanted to use the Notre Dame bells but Notre Dame was too dangerous, and it is still too dangerous to be inside because of the amount of toxic still in the air, so I had to go to Saens catedral and record its bells, and then I worked closely with Jean-Jacques to present him some themes. When he is happy with the themes he left me to do my thing and complete and record the score.
It is beautiful, if I can say, I think it is done through a drone with a camera, the moment in the film, when the workers are taking some rest and the camera follows the structure of Notre Dame from the sky taking our breath away with the extraordinary framing of the beauty of the Cathedral and the surroundings of Paris around her. And that instant we listen for the first time in all its glory your Main Theme for the film, and it is just gorgeous. And specially the instant of the search for the relics in an already in flames Notre Dame, that biblical or maybe otherworldly sensation that something profound is at stake, your music in there is sublime, pure bliss.
Thank you, that was a fabulous choir, called Tannenberg, that we use, we work with them in Avatar as well, that Simon Rhodes, the engineer, recommended, and they did an amazing job. I was trying different textures, because the film tells you what texture it needs, and, as you can quite understand there is a point when your heroine is a 500 years old stone Cathedral, and we thought that to represent her grandeur with sound and music, the election should be voices, the sound of human voices reflecting her passing through history in capitals, and all the events happening through the different eras with Notre Dame as witness.
And I looked at the history, and there was a school of choral writing from the 14th hundreds in France and I wanted to study that work, taking into account always that the primary thing was Jean-Jacques Annaud being happy, and that we would have a limited amount of time to record, so I had to be efficient about the scoring and compositional process to be ready on time. And I made sure that we record everybody together, unless the norm in Hollywood, to record in sections. We wanted everybody together performing, that energy is essential for the score to breathe and develop, and you notice when it is done that way, the whole orchestra altogether.
Yeah, not separated in pieces, which I personally find that quite sometimes provides a mechanical and maybe a bit artificial sound instead a more organic and pure one, when the symphonic orchestra perform together the whole score.
Yeah, indeed, yeah.
Yes, because you sense that Notre Dame on Fire is recorded with all the musicians performing together, the choir is felt being recorded altogether with the orchestra.
Yes, and this was recorded after Covid, and we could do it this way, but before it was extremely difficult with all the protocols, but normally I would have done that way if I have that opportunity.
With orchestras, I prefer, if you can put all the elements altogether, you know, you always get a better sound, I am a big fan of the orchestra playing altogether.
When I see some pictures for example of a particular recording session, and I see four violas separated in a panel with walls, in another panel four horns, in another seven violins, woodwinds in other one, it is a complex architecture to put all the pieces together, not without a great merit, but I prefer all of them playing together, I think it is always better.
Yeah, absolutely, I agree.
Well, can you tell us how Jamie and you met back in time, and how did you start working together, when he chose you for the first time for a project?
Yes, it was for Titanic. I had done some songs, I was an arranger of songs before, like Dreams to Dreams which was in Fievel Goes West, which Jamie scored back in the day, later on I was in Contact, the Alan Silvestri score, and Alan and James had the same agent, Mike Gorfaine. And Mike one day asked me: “Would you go and meet other client? because we would like to talk to you about a secret project. The thing is we have a problem, we have no money”. The project was Titanic. But as such an irony it could be, they had no more money at this point, and James had to finish and record the score.
I was seen as a person who could, with all my synclavier and my synthesizers and set, help, I could create a virtual sound and unique textures as well, and they wanted me to work with Ian Underwood to help James with the score of Titanic, because there was no money for an orchestra.
It is unbelievable, the most expensive film of all times in 1997, that they couldn’t get money to record the score with an orchestra.
That was exactly the problem, as weird as it sounds, because there was so little money that the only way we could deliver a score was to do most of it with synthesizers. And that is how we start.
And the rest is history. Well, a different kind of question now, about your work with other composers, for instance, I recently knew you were working with Howard Shore in Se7en.
Oh yeah, it is true.
I did not know that till recently, can you explain for us how was working with Mr. Shore for such a mythic movie?
Yeah, sure! Howard asked me first to work with him in a film called The Client, based in a John Grisham best-selling novel.
Yes, I love that score!
Great! glad you like it! well, you know, the thing is I was not somebody that could be considered a normal session musician, so, when you are a session musician you can be at an orchestral recording session maybe playing piano or whatever, what Howard needed was having me for the whole film scoring.
So I would work with Howard or with Alan, or with James or with John Barry or with Tom Newman for several months, so I spent a whole lot of time with these great composers, learning and helping them in the capacity I could.
With Howard I think we did half a dozen scores together, The Client was the first, then other score, I cannot remember right now…
Nobody’s Fool maybe…. It is one of my favorite Howard Shore scores, just beautiful.
It could be, I can’t remember right now, sorry, we did Se7en and Crash together at that time too, that I remember well.
When we did Se7en, Howard asked me to record and manipulate the orchestra to make it become dark and edgier. So he gave me the idea of create patches with recordings of squealing brakes of cars and to build violin patches from brakes sounds, and put them to perform the same note as the violins are playing in the orchestra.
I did a lot of stuff like that.
And you don’t know all that stuff is there, but it helps you to feel unease.
Yeah! that was the goal, yes, to transport you to a dystopia, a dangerous edge, a menace lurking constantly.
Yeah, indeed, it is for sure one of the greatest scores of the nineties, but very few people notice it because it is unpleasant, dark, somber, but it is a fantastic work.
True, you know, that film used to give me nightmares.
Haha, for sure, I think to all of us.
One of the few ones that I wouldn’t take home with me, I couldn’t get it out of my head, some of the stuff did not make it to the final cut of the film as well, and it was a very tough work to get.
Well, as a Bond fan, I can’t finish the interview without asking this question, you worked with Thomas Newman in Skyfall and Spectre, right?
Yes! I arranged for both scores, yes.
How is it working with Tom Newman, and entering the Bond family?
It’s great! well, you know, John Barry, who is one of the greatest is essential in Bond musical history, was one of my friends, and the first film composer I ever worked for. And because I am British, and because I love the franchise, Bond is everything. Bond is like…
There is only Bond.
YEAH! Haha. I just love 007, love Bond and of course love Bond music, the Barry sound, the evolution of the music through 6 decades, the musical legacy of 007.
Oh, yeah, indeed, I think with Skyfall and me, they tried to bring in somebody with a British sensibility, but Tom did a great job. For sure.
Yeah, no doubt. Nevertheless, he was criticized for not using the Bond theme enough
That was a Sam Mendes’ choice.
I thought so, now just confirming it. Sam Mendes wanted maybe a more grounded sound?
Yeah, but also I think that what he did too is to revive, to refresh the sound of Bond. From all the previous films and scores he brought a fresh approach, that I think it was necessary. The film itself, I mean Skyfall, is one of my favorite Bond films, I think it is fabulous.
Skyfall is actually my third one, my top 3 are: Casino Royale, One Her Majesty’s Secret Service …
Oh, definitely!!!, yeah, yeah, of course.
Yeah, that is a top 3 I can agree wholeheartedly. Skyfall has a freshness in it that was wonderful. For instance, I did not work in this particular cue, “Shanghai Drive”, but I just love that cue, when Bond is on his way to the skyscraper. Fabulous.
And from the bits I worked on, the train chase, or the chase across the rooftops of Morocco in a motorbike among other scenes and bits I did, I think Tom did a masterful job, he refreshed the sound so well!
I honestly wanted more of the classic Bond themes and sound, at the time of the release of the film in 2012, but I have to say that over time, this score has won me over.
I think also that we have one catch composing Skyfall, the catch of creating a score too attached to the seventies sound, which was more groundbreaker maybe tan the previous decade, the goal was to refresh the Bond sound, but not going back, but going forward, renovating and being conscious at the same time of the musical legacy.
You can’t forget John Barry, who has such an unforgettable and distinctive style, but he always was open to changes through time.
Yes, indeed, for example there was no Bond theme at all in A View to a Kill in the mid-eighties, and he created a new theme just for that one film, and a glorious fanfare that was new, and then, in The Living Daylights he was back to the classic theme invigorated adding electronics and giving it a freshness and power unexpected in that way.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, exactly. When I worked with John Barry for the first time, was in Dances with Wolves, and I had a chat with him talking about so many different things while working in the movie, that he must have enjoyed it, and my work obviously, that finally I ended working in five or six more films with him in the nineties and we became very good friends.
I think for instance, that Chaplin is one of his greatest scores, and people sometimes forget it. I remember John sending to me a Sketch of the main theme, and I was blown away. John took a very long time to write a theme, sometimes even three months, and that was part of his thing, his magic. Once stablished the theme/s, all was pretty quickly developed. He had this ability to have a connection with the audience, the same happened with James Horner, the themes are the essential most important element.
For a reason they were two of the greatest, John Barry had that magical touch, that with a single phrase or the presentation of a melody you are hypnotized, you are already into the movie and the story.
I would not have said it better.
If I can say something about my style, I think I have two things that probably had form my style, first thing is that I am a true believer in themes, I believe in a tune, I think themes are important, and that comes from studying under James Horner and Sir John Barry. I also think of all the records I made, I have worked in at least 400 records and songs, when a song is about a theme, the impact is greater, and as I came from records to scores my idea of a melody and bringing an emotion together with the music has been essential to me my whole life and career.
Looking back at the all-time classics, there is a way that the greatest like Stravinsky or Prokofiev always were coming back to the use of themes and melodic material, which I find remarkably important. And I love ballet music in general, the power of the music and the dance to make you feel profound sentiments.
The second thing, as I have been part of my own band of collaborators through the years is the rhythmic approach, with David Foster we said, I will play the keyboard part, ok, I will do the drums, and so on. I always take that rhythmic approach to all I do, if you get people to move, even a Little, their feet, listening to the music, the rest will follow.
What I love is for example, when you do an action cue, you feel the excitement, but the melodic side is always in there, you translate a theme there, it is not only a rollicking crescendo or an ostinato, and with that all the score evolves and breathes. For example, “Knife Fight” in Avatar The Way Of Water, with the music you are feeling that you are in a dangerous situation for the protagonist, but through the music you are not only feeling his fear for his family, but the villain feelings as well. That’s why this is a beyond excellent score.
Yeah, I mean, I believe in an emotional connection, and the way is through melody and thematic structure, nobody gets connected to a 2-minutes ostinato, or to a textural vacuum, I want to make you feel something, that you feel attached to the characters in some way. My luck is that I have a director who loves themes, haha.
Luckily for us, haha
Jim loves thematic music which is important. But the other thing with “Knife Fight” is that I have a huge ship of metal, cranking, and sinking and the sound of crashing water and waves, the theme should carry o within all those things, sometimes better than others, and I tried to show the fear and peril, the heartbreaking fear of Neytiri trying to protect all their children, the fight of Jake against a more dangerous than ever Avatar Quaritch, getting the audience to know subliminally who is on top at any moment, who is on the verge of defeat, and so on.
Yeah, yeah, you made us really feel that anybody could die, and you get the audience to have true fear for the characters to perish, when I watched the movie at the cinema, everybody was at the edge of the seat, like trying to jump to the fight to help. The music was pulse pounding, but in a good way, in the melodic way, and that was terrific to experience.
Somebody told me when I was back in England after the film was released, how long that action cue was? actually he was a fellow composer, he thought I did an hour of an action cue nonstop. That’s because when the action kicks off the stakes are so high that you are in the movie and forget about music, editing, …, you are there, all is real for you, and that’s the great work by Jim. From the moment Lo’ak finds Payakan with the harpoon to that cue we talked about is about one hour of action and it is relentless. For that reason, you need to structure the work, avoiding it to be repetitive and structure it well thematically. I had to come through and find the way to create a flow that lasted through an hour.
Indeed, you find the place to go majestic, the place to go harsh or dissonant or darker, but never forgetting thematic development, it is the flow and the election developing the thematic palette that gives your work excellency, consistency, freshness and a timeless power to it. You do not feel tired at all during the whole story.
A film well structured, well narrated and with a fantastic score, it could long even more, four hours, no problem.
Are you already preparing things or composing new themes for the next one?
Oh, yes, I wrote some stuff for Avatar 3 in 2018, but I recently started to work in the new one, with some on screen stuff we need, and there are some really cool things about it that will really blow your mind over.
Wow! A pity that the premiere has been delayed one year.
Yes, but it is probably for the best because actually now with the problems with the writers and actors strikes all could be delayed and we can have more time to do things even better.
We all are looking at the way we were, and how things can be done to make Avatar 3 even better. You know, one of the problems with a film like this is that it takes a year just to render, to actually create the images, is about one year’s work, computer time I mean.
And Jim is always taking feedback from our audience, to make things better, but we want to surprise you as well, big time. And as if only it is a 10th percent of the movie that needs to be tweaked a little bit to get the finished product, it takes a certain amount of time. But we had to have everything in the state of being ready by September, and for the rendering engines is close, so the new date of release gave all us more time to do everything better. Because…
I must say this…
The new film is astonishing, my God, really,
And I love Three.
I love Four as well, Holy S…, Four is Staggering!
Hahaha, certainly right now you are making the wait even harder, suddenly, hahaha. Can you refresh our readers about the new premiere dates, please?
Of course, let’s see…
2025 is Avatar 3 The Seed Bearer
2029 is Avatar 4 The Tulkun Rider
2032 is Avatar 5 The Quest for Eywa
4 and 5 are amazing,
4 is mind-blowing, but, wait for 5, it is bonkers!!!
You have blown my mind so much right now that I am feeling dizzy, haha,
Anything you could share in the non-spoiler territory, to finish this wonderful conversation in a high point? haha.
Yes, I will share with you something that Jim have been commenting recently, people in Pandora, not everybody is nice, some people are evil between the Na’vi,
The Ash People, you’ll see,
Seriously cool stuff.
Goosebumps right now biblical level, well! Thank You, Simon, for this wonderful time you have given us, to SoundTrackFest, and for the kindness extending this interview a little bit longer to fulfill all the themes, you have been extremely kind, thank you so much.
My pleasure, any time.
Hope we can talk again in the near future, all the very best to SoundTrackFest and you.
Interview by Asier G. Senarriaga
Pictures by Rafa Melgar