- Written by: Stefanos Tsarouchas
Howard Shore was a guest at the Berlinale Talents in February 2015. The interview would be only 10 minutes long. So I asked friends of mine, what they wanted to know from Howard Shore.
S. Tsarouchas: Yesterday you held a masterclass here in Berlin. What expectations did you have?
Howard Shore: I just wanted to pass along some ideas, some thoughts, the process that I'm go through in writing and if I can, influence people in a positive way. I'm very happy.
S. Tsarouchas: What do you think of the venue? Did they show some excerpts from films with your scores and then discussed it?
H. Shore: Yes, Peter Cowie is a great writer on film. He was the moderator and he and I chose seven pieces from seven different films, clips, that we discussed. Peter is really an authority on film music, a real admirer of use of music in films, so it was a very good discussion.
S. Tsarouchas: Do you think, that young composers have to many expectations of getting a job in Hollywood?
H. Shore: They make films all over the world and there are great filmmakers everywhere. I don't know, if you need to look so far west to make good movies.
S. Tsarouchas: You worked with Peter Jackson on LORD OF THE RINGS and on THE HOBBIT films. It's hours and hours of music. How did you came up with some new musical themes for the last HOBBIT film?
S. Tsarouchas: Would you like to do another film with Peter Jackson, because there are lots of other stories of Tolkien. If he approaches you, would you do it?
H. Shore: I think, we're maybe finished with Tolkien at the moment. Those were the stories, that we were able to film. I guess, we'll see what the future holds for other works.
S. Tsarouchas: What challenges you as a film composer?
H. Shore: I like a good challenge of creating a story in music. I like period films very much, because I like to read a lot, so I like the research. I definitely like a good challenge now and a lengthy project is very interesting to me in terms of writing music for a film.
S. Tsarouchas: What should a good film score accomplish?
S. Tsarouchas: What are your thoughts on the current use of film music in Hollywood Blockbusters? I saw JUPITER ASCENDING a couple of days ago. They had loud sound effects and the music had to be louder. Is this the right way to use film music?
H. Shore: I've not seen JUPITER ASCENDING, so I can't really comment on it. Some of the films are mixed well. Some of them are mixed quite well. Some of them are mixed a little to over the top, but I guess, it's some of the process of the times.
S. Tsarouchas: I read at the IMDB, that you're composing the music for Martin Scorese's next film SILENCE. Is that true?
H. Shore: You can't believe everything on the Internet. Marty is shooting that film now and usually he begins in a very quiet way and then he develops the ideas. I'm not specifically working on that film. No.
S. Tsarouchas: As I see it, if somebody is doing a Blockbuster film in Hollywood like LORD OF THE RINGS, you're kind of being put in a certain genre. How do you see yourself in the Hollywood system?
H. Shore: Well pre LORD OF THE RINGS there was scores, that kind of let up to it, like THE FLY, LOOKING FOR RICHARD had a Latin choral text. So there were works leading up to it. LORD OF THE RINGS is a large orchestral work for chorus, but it was a certain period. I mean, the last couple of films I'd finished were MAPS TO THE STARS and Jon Stewart's film called ROSEWATER, which was set in Iran. Those scores are quite different then the Tolkien scores.
S. Tsarouchas: How do you see the use of temp tracks?
S. Tsarouchas: You worked a lot with David Cronenberg, Martin Scorsese, Peter Jackson. Whom do you prefer the most?
H. Shore: Oh, these are all great directors.
S. Tsarouchas: Is it easier for you, if the director has a certain score already in mind, is kind of musically trained and speaks to you in musical terms?
H. Shore: I think it's good when the relationship with the composer and the director is allowed to expand upon the ideas of the story and it doesn't have to come necessarily with pre conceived ideas. We can collaborate in a way, that were the sum might be greater than the parts. We might come up with ideas, that we might not have thought of right in the beginning. It has to have a development process, I think.
S. Tsarouchas: The earliest musical piece from you, that I have is the tune for SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE. How did you start working for them?
H. Shore: I worked with a group of actors and writers when I was very young and I did repertory theater in Toronto for years and SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE kind of grew out of that. I did radio for the Canadian Broadcasting Company, CBC in Toronto and I also did television with Lorne Michaels in Toronto, variety shows, which let into SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE, which is an American program, that began in 1975. We're just now celebrating our 40th year on the air and it's a three hour broadcast.
S. Tsarouchas: Is it true that you kind of hat the idea for BLUES BROTHERS. Is that true?
H. Shore: It was a thing, that I did with the band from the show as a warm up to the show and I invited Dan Aykroyd to play harp. He was a good blues harp player. Then of course John Belushi wanted to be part of that. That Blues thing was always sort of prevalent in the music of that show and that developed into those recordings, that they did in the film, that they did themselves.
S. Tsarouchas: How do you reflect on your career? is it the way you thought it would go?
H. Shore: I don’t really thought one way or the other it would go this way or that. I mean, as a young musician and composer, I just looked for different opportunities. I grew up in the 60's, so I came from a period of a lot of experimentation. I thought that film music was a good way to be in the recording studio, be with other musicians, be able to work with the electronics of the time and it was just a way to express a lot of things, that I was thinking about. So I kind of followed my process through a lot of different productions and looked for different opportunities to work in.
Excerpts of the interview were aired during the Berlinale Special, February 21st 2015.