I remember being a toddler and touching a piano for the first time. From the instant I plunked those first tentative, out of tune, creepy sounding notes on the keys, I’ve wanted to make the soundtrack for a horror film.
As I got older, I developed an interest in minimalism and atmosphere in music, and nowhere were these techniques put to better use than in the horror film soundtracks of the 1970s and early 80s. While I eventually focused my energy on playing rock music, I never completely forgot about wanting to compose soundtracks.
Last week, I found the opportunity I was seeking. My friends Ryan Stockstad and Jon Rosenberg were discussing their plans for the upcoming 48 Hour Film Project, in which contestants are tasked with creating, filming, and editing a short film over the course of one weekend. I naively offered to help out with the soundtrack, figuring this might be a good way to get my feet wet. But since we wouldn’t know the genre until that Friday, when it would be literally pulled out of a hat, there was a chance that we would be stuck with an awkward category like “romantic comedy.” Needless to say, we were all praying that we’d draw “horror” instead.
And that’s just what happened. Ryan S. pulled “horror” out of the hat, and Jon set to work writing a screenplay about zombies. The cast and crew pulled a couple all-nighters while I tinkered maniacally with my giant bank of synthesizers (OK, I only have one, and it’s slightly larger than my computer keyboard, but still). Luckily, my piano skills have not improved much since I was six years old, so I was easily able to tap into the same minimalist vein of my earliest compositions. By Sunday, we had our film.
It’s a five minute short, written and filmed more or less under duress. But I’m proud of what the cast and crew accomplished, and that I was able to participate. Seeing my music matched to images of zombies wandering the dark alleys of Los Angeles validated my ambitions somewhat, and whet my appetite to do more work like this in the future.
I’d like to send a shout out to everyone involved, specifically Ryan and Jon, who created this little monster, and Damon Packard, who stayed up all night editing and also did a great job of placing my music within the context of the film.
A Tale of Two Zombies screens at 9:30 at the Santa Monica Laemmle Theater next Tuesday, August 24th. There will be some sort of contest to determine the best entries from Los Angeles. We’re figuring we at least have a shot at “best makeup.”
Here’s the trailer: