The Music of Madness (2019) Movie Script

That's what we want.
Can you take in
like a non-instrument
and create like
nice-sounding things out of it?
I would consider that playing.
I mean making an ugly sound
is still playing it.
What I'm doing with these things
that are not instruments
are what you would do
with something
that is
not originally an instrument,
but may become an instrument.
So I'm thinking, "Can I actually
create a new instrument
out of some
of these crazy sounds?"
I think we'll be able to come up with a pretty cool-sounding
synth or s-- or like a layer
of sound in the bottom
that'll carry
a lot of the film really nicely.
Come here, son of a bitch!
I'll fucking
cut your fuckin' neck off!
I'll fuckin' kill you!
So Timebox is a-- a short film
and I'm doing the music for it,
if you can call it "music".
We'll see what-- what comes out
at the other side
uh, because it's pretty
So Timebox for me,
when I watched it uh,
it really is uh, it-- it is--
it is-- it's disturbing.
I mean it's definitely
it's a disturbing film.
Because I think it you know,
it-- it shows you
really terrible things,
but it makes you think about--
What will a person do given a certain circumstance, you know?
What are the most uh, brutal,
animalistic kind of ways
of acting, you know?
Like if you were given
a certain possibility you know,
would you hunt another person?
Well, that's fuckin' terrifying.
With Timebox , so instead of approaching it
in musical themes
or writing melodies
uh, I thought that it would be
much more interesting
to create motifs
that came out of things
that were as ugly as the ideas
that were presented
by the film itself.
Just collecting some uh,
some power tools
for some power tool madness.
Alright, let's see
what else we can find
that might be of interest here.
So how do you find that thing?
I mean, for me, I thought
"What's ug--
what are ugly sounds?
what could make ugly sounds?"
That's really the genesis
of the whole thing.
So you know, scraping metal,
power tool.
Um, playing instruments in ways
they are not meant to be played
Bowing metal uh, we're bowing a piano,
we're gonna hit things.
we're gonna abuse instruments
in all sorts of ways.
Uh, nice.
Hammer drill.
Why not?
Alright, so I think
the first thing we're gonna try
is get some cool resonances
out of some metal pieces
by using a violin bow here,
which is nice and rosined up,
and I'm gonna rosin it
a bit more here
just so it really sticks
when it rides across
the surface of the metal.
So what happens basically is um,
as you drag this bow
across the surface
of the metal--
You're gonna get vibrations
starting to happen
as it sort of skips
across the surface
and then sometimes you get some
really cool effects that way.
- Alright, that sounds cool.
- Yeah.
So let's uh, I'm gonna try
and capture that.
So this is um, metal box bowed, take 1.
I'm using theories of how-- why things resonate,
I'm using theories
of why things make sound.
So you know, if you take a bow,
like a violin bow
and you rub it across the edge
of a metal container,
eventually the metal will
vibrate at a certain frequency
and it'll create a tone.
It could be a nice
pure sine-like tone
or it could be a horrible
ugly screeching
and both are kind of useful
in their own way.
Just running it back here
to see how it sounds.
I think what I wanna do is get another take of that
just a little bit closer in.
Okay, same metal box,
take 2.
A little bit closer up
this time.
So in this case,
in case of Timebox ,
it really is about um,
just kinda letting it rip
and f-- and having some fun
off some stuff.
Having some ideas at a time
and then just doing tons
of experiments um,
and screwing around,
and messing up,
and having lots
of failed experiments.
That one doesn't wanna go.
Failed experiment number 1.
And then hoping at some point
something cool is gonna come out
of that
and in the end
you really don't know
until you've laid it all out
and start placing things
to picture and going,
"Okay, there's an in here
or this is that key thing
that fits" and--
and it starts to work.
Uh, failed experiment number 56.
Here we go.
Okay, this is uh, wobbly saw, take 1.
Let's get out the power tools.
That's tough.
What are you tryin' to do?
Find something to--
Yeah, I'm just lookin'
for something to--
Something to saw
that's not gonna kill me,
because there's nails in here.
I actually really fucking hate
using this saw.
Uh, 'cause it scares the shit out of me frankly.
It's like Susanna's dad--
Like look, this--
this is a perfectly fine saw,
and he like fucked
with all the shit,
and put this fuckin' thing up,
and ripped this out
just 'cause he wanted to like--
didn't like the safety features,
and now
like it always kinda like--
Also, there's no guard on it.
There's no guard and it catches,
because it--
it's sort of warped.
But then because it's like
he's fucked with all
the contro-- the tools of it,
so like it always
comes a little off-centre,
and so when you're sawing,
it'll catch and blow back,
which is the reason why
it scares the shit out of me.
Alright, safety first, kids.
Let's see here.
Here's circular saw
just on its own, take 1.
Alright, here we go.
So here's sawing some wood,
take 1.
Get this fucking piece away.
What's next?
How about-- ah, hammer drill.
This oughta make an ugly sound.
Oh yeah.
That's gonna be good.
So when you listen to something like that
like what do you--
what do you hear?
'Cause to me
it just sounds like...
- Like--
- You know, like--
Just a noise?
A fuckin' hammer drill, yeah.
Uh, so I mean
there's a couple of things.
It's just sort of like
if it's got a nice resonance
or it has a tone, like if it has
an even tone at certain fre--
Like you rev it up to the full
and if it continuously
sort of has
uh, something stable,
you can build uh,
an instrument out of that,
like you can take it
and it'll uh, import into the--
A sampler and um, sort of
automatically sort of put it
within a certain frequency,
and you can play it
like an instrument,
I'll show you that later.
Uh, and then I'm just thinkin'
about layers, and sounds,
and stuff,
and I'm sort of picturing
some of the things in the film.
That revving up
to that high pitch you know,
you can use that
as a tension-building device.
Stretch it you know,
compress it.
You pitch it way down,
you just have it
at a low frequency,
it's slowly coming up.
So yeah,
it's just stuff like that.
It's an interesting sound,
and it's got lots
of different clicks and whirrs,
and also it's interesting stuff
going inside it.
Uh, you know,
it's gonna be lots of fun
to sort of play around
with that.
Whoa, reciprocating saw.
Let's get some
rhythmic stuff going I think.
It's the cheapest gong
you can ever have.
But I bet
if we down pitch that,
it'll sound really cool.
Where'd you find all this shit?
Uh, these are actually old uh,
camping like bear bells.
From when you go camping,
you don't want bears to eat you,
so apparently bears
are terrified of bells.
I don't--
so some of my dad's old stuff.
A lot of this sh--
shit is just--
Just lying around my basement.
I mean you know, it's junk.
It's just junk percussion.
And let's go start takin' the piano apart and--
Makin' some cool sounds with the piano.
What's the problem?
Well, the drill makes more noise than the piano does.
That's no good.
I don't want the piano to make
the most amount of noise.
You know what I'm sayin'?
I'm not gonna bother takin' the action out,
so let's just put the damper
on here.
So it's got the uh,
the sustain pedal down sort
of permanently
so then we can play these
nice strings all on their own.
Alright, so we got our monofilament all rosined up,
which means it's nice
and tacky now,
and should really stick
to the strings.
So now, I can sort
of thread it through.
Oh, here's a problem
I didn't anticipate.
Um, uh, I think I'm gonna open up the bottom of the piano,
'cause I don't want that--
that noise of the uh, filament.
I should take this out, too
and then mic it from the bottom.
Like so-- alright, I think
we're recording here, yep.
There-- there were a couple of great moments there
where the sounds were
really cool,
'cause it just did things
I wasn't-- I was surprised by.
I thought the filament,
when I was bowing the piano,
it would be very smooth
and would just make it big--
But instead it made
the cha-cha-cha-cha-cha-cha-
ga-ga-ga-ga-ga-ga kinda sound.
So just you know,
you kinda roll with it.
So I started playing in bands uh, originally.
So uh, in the mid-90s I was in
uh, started playing rock bands
while I was
in art school actually,
because I intended to be
an illustrator at a school.
So that lasted
until the early 2000s.
We were sort of moving
around Canada,
playing in different places
and eventually uh, it broke up
like all good bands do,
and I was sort of left thinking,
"What am I doing with myself?"
And it took a while, but uh,
after some sort
of self-reflection,
and some reading, and looking
into different things uh,
I came upon
the amazing realization
that like the two big things
visual media and music
that I really loved were
actually combined
in this uh, vocation
called "screen scoring".
So I c-- I compose music
for film and television
uh, which covers everything
from uh, factual series,
to sports stuff,
to um, feature films.
Uh, I really like working
on dramas uh, thrillers,
mysteries um, sci-fi fantasy,
those are sort of the big ones.
A good story well told is sort of a pleasure to work on
no matter what it is.
I think of myself as a filmmaker first
since scoring a film
is really uh, particular
and-- and that's really
what I'm--
I think I'm built to do.
I don't consider it pure art.
It's-- it's more of an art uh,
it's more of
a craftsman kind of thing,
but there are
artistic aspects to it,
because I will go
within the sandbox
that's created by somebody else.
There are lots of moments to
play pretty freely within that
and to do things
that are surprising,
that are really part of your own
um, your own vision,
and your own signature,
your own sound
or something
that really just comes
from some place deep within you.
So the EBow's a little electronic device
usually used on electric guitars
and it--
You just put it over top
of the strings
and it creates
a magnetic frequency
that vibrates the string
and you get these
long sustained tones.
And I have seen this used
on pianos.
I don't know how well
it's gonna work,
but we're gonna give it a try.
Suspense is killing me.
We'll call that
"failed experiment number 128".
Didn't work at all?
I mean there's got to be a way
to do it,
I've seen people do it,
but I've never--
I've never uh,
I don't know the secret.
You know, it's kinda funny
about all the stuff
that we've been doing today.
I'm not-- I've never
actually tried this stuff.
Actually, it's all theory.
It's supposed to work in theory,
so I'm always just--
I'm always thinking, "Uh, it's
not gonna sound like anything."
It'll be a big embarrassment.
I told Tate I could do all
these cool-sounding things and--
So uh, what I would normally do is watch the film,
get a sense of the characters,
and the themes,
and everything else,
and then uh,
I would sit down at the keyboard
or with a guitar or whatever,
and sort of try to generate,
play around
until I get a sense
of what material works.
Harmonic, progressions,
traditional stuff like that
until something resonates
with the characters.
What we're doing with Timebox
is a little different,
so instead of worrying
about the structure so much
and worrying about uh, any kind
of harmonic progressions
or melody, 'cause
that's really out the window--
We're-- we're doing more of an experiment,
a-- a big extended experiment
where I'm getting a sense
of the tone of the film,
and then I'm thinking about
all the different weird sounds
we could make with things
that aren't instruments,
and collecting those sounds
into a big catalogue of stuff.
And hopefully, out of that you get something
that sounds a certain way,
and is that spark of inspiration
you then take,
to start sculpting
something slowly
and then placing that up
against the picture,
and seeing how it works.
So it's a little bit
of a different uh, process
to get to the same point.
Once all the-- the sounds are collected,
the real challenge becomes,
"How does this become
a cohesive score," right?
You've got a lot of elements uh,
you've got a lot
of building blocks,
but you haven't really done--
You've just sort of had
a lot of fun
playing in the playground,
but you haven't really worried
too much about the structure.
What I have to do now is just sort of filter
through all the stuff
that we've collected
and I'm looking
for that little bit of magic
where I kinda just go-- I go,
"Oh, that's it."
and then I think what's gonna
happen is
I'm gonna go, "Okay,
let's try this over this part."
and then
I'm gonna get some other kind--
It's just really
about making these um,
a very freeform kinda thing.
You have to be--
you have to just sort of make
these associations
and go, "Oh, this--
this sound here."
I remember doing that.
Check this out.
This would be sick.
That's an evil sound, right?
Yeah, fuckin' terrifying.
That's not even--
that was unintentional.
That's just me
adjusting the microphone
on the stand.
Imagine that over the landscape in the beginning of the film.
Something like that
would be cool, eh?
Like that.
There's kinda something eerie
and evil about it.
It's got a neat tone.
That's better, it's--
What are you doing now?
You know,
sort of scrubbing through
just to see what we got.
It's the piano bow.
I don't know something
kinda cool happened there
with the dual tone.
It's one of those moments
of magic
you're always looking for.
Hmm, creepy.
And when you put that
against picture.
Let's do an experiment.
I'll try
and make a synth out of that
like a--
something playable out of that.
That's something cool.
That seems to be a sweet spot right there
to serve in this area.
I like it.
What sounds are those?
That is uh, one of the box,
the metal boxes bein' bowed
uh, plus, believe it or not,
the hammer saw
or the hammer drill.
That's starting to sound like something, too.
You know, I might actually
put that just on its own.
It's usually a bit of a slog
at the beginning,
you're sitting
with an empty slate,
you don't know
what you're doing,
you're struggling
to come up with ideas,
and to just find anything
that works.
But man, when that clicks,
when it--
When you get something
that musically is--
It has some sort of a-- a--
like a l-- a relationship
to that what's on screen,
it feels like you found
you know, a partner
for someone who's been single.
You're going, "You guys work
really great together",
and you have this beautiful
new thing that happens,
and those moments
are really exciting,
especially when you have a scene
you're struggling,
and all of a sudden
you discover that way in,
and the way that the music
is supposed to work,
and it just
creates something new,
and that feeling
is really exciting.
It could be something.
There's some pretty cool stuff
in there already, eh?
I think we should break.
Alright, let's see
how some of this stuff sounds
to picture.
Uh, so now, I'm gonna--
I'm exporting all the uh,
individual sounds
or picking and choosing
the ones that I like the best
and just sort of keeping in mind
what their use might be
in any given scene.
Yeah, I think that's a winner.
That's also very useful.
And I'm trying--
I'm doing some experiments here
where I'm pitch-shifting
some of the stuff, so...
So to give you a sense of
what that sounded like before.
What we're gonna do now is
we're gonna load up
the actual film Timebox
into my timeline, and import it
into the project file.
Now, I'm gonna try importing
some of these sounds
and seeing how they play
against the picture.
And that's how we start?
That's how we know
if we have anything.
That's surprising.
I like that.
It doesn't sound as uh, cute
as what we had before,
'cause that's this.
It just doesn't have any
of the attack, right?
It doesn't have that uh,
percussive attack on it.
Just has
all of the uh, sustained
comes after the attack.
That falling thing
is what makes it so weird.
It's like oscillating downwards.
Yeah, it's like...
That doesn't make you feel like something's coming.
That's the reciprocating saw
winding up.
I would call that
potentially very useful.
You want me to turn
that into a synth?
Alright, it's been 13 days.
I think I've been in the box
four times now.
I haven't seen either of us for
at least two days.
I haven't seen me for five
and the last time
I've seen Tommy.
There's fuckin' three of them
and they might be
workin' together, so...
Alright, it's been 13 day.
There's a little start there,
Hugely imperfect in every way,
but gives you an idea.
Like so what's next?
Like what do you do after this?
Do you just kind of do this
the whole way through
or like what's
sort of the next step?
Yeah, I mean I think I'll do--
I'll do a bunch of passes
with this
and sort of see what it feels
like just working through
each scene and the sounds,
and seeing what
sort of really works,
and then it's just a matter
of really pulling things
way out,
and putting you know,
really sculpting the sounds
and making sure something's--
something's in the foreground,
mid-ground, background,
seeing how it works
against the picture,
what it's sort of saying
about the scene
and the characters.
Um, yeah.
And then you just sort of go
step by step, sculpting away.
Screen composing is a-- it's an interesting one,
because it is-- it is--
I mean the-- when you're doing
the actual work,
when you're just
sitting down there and writing,
yeah, it is absolutely solitary.
So that's one of the--
that's one of the weird parts
about doing what I do is
that I'm actually
pretty social person,
I like talkin' to people
about ideas.
a lot of times you're
just sort of sitting there
wrestling with your own
self-doubt and your own uh,
uh, questions about how to
move forward on this--
On a project.
How to make a living
as a screen composer?
It-- it's a tough question
I think.
The veterans that I talk to say
now it's either you're
at a very
like wide strip near the bottom
making almost no money,
and then there's nothing
in between almost,
and then there's a very tiny
microscopic layer at the top.
Why do-- why do what I do?
I mean I've-- I honestly have
tried to walk away
from doing music
a couple of times
and it just doesn't work.
I keep coming back to it.
Um, yeah, and I mean it's just
any opportunity I get
to kinda do this stuff
and really experiment you know,
you just kinda jump at that.
So where we're at right now
with the score is
I've uh,
all the materials are in,
I've sort of
sorted everything out,
and really have scored
pretty much the whole picture
um, after I developed my sounds
uh, using the stuff
that we collected,
and yeah, we're-- we're getting
close to the finish line.
It was-- it was harder
than I thought it would be.
For sure.
Mostly, the scoring part of it.
The actual--
the actual getting down
to the nitty gritty
of telling the story
and actually making the--
the sounds fit.
Um, and--
and yeah, it was harder.
So the things that ended up being really useful
uh, first of all the metal,
the bowed metal,
like some of the boxes
and the bowed metal
sounded really great
um, just because
they had that nice resonance,
they gave nice
clean sort of tones
that I knew I could
put into a s-- a sampler
and get sort of a--
a playable instrument out of.
So a lot of those really dark textures
that come up on the score again
and again
are actually created with
a layer of different things.
One of them
is the dark ambiences
we got from the piano,
so from bowing,
and I just took those sound
and I really stretched--
I stretched them out, so you get
this really deep sort of--
Low, dark, echoey kind of sound and then that's layered in
uh, with what I call
"hissing glass",
which is
I think a bowed metal box.
Uh, the hammer drill.
Layered up.
And then for that final thing--
So that's the box sound that
didn't quite make a note, but...
It does create a really neat kind of like resonant sound.
So I'll just
play this one section here.
So that's a layer of three things,
one of them is called
"box long dry",
which is basically
that long dry scraping box.
Plus the hissing glass,
which I just described,
and then finally, this stuff
really beautiful actually,
'cause it's--
and it's another bowed box,
but it's a very pure tone
that could actually be played
in chords and uh, melody.
So if this is a traditional score,
I would call that
my string section
that would be sort of
the string section sound.
The percussive stuff
always works,
so we had some metals and stuff
that I was doing,
percussive stuff.
I knew that would be great
for rhythmic beds
and things like that.
So again, it uses a lot of the same material
that we heard before,
so the dark bowed uh, metals.
Then of course, yeah,
there's all the percussion,
which is layers and layers of me
playing different things.
So that's two boxes played
with brushes, mallets,
and then the crowbar um,
and there's also the single
crowbar hits ended up being re--
Really useful
in reverse sort of--
Lead us into sections.
And then the rest of it's just
individual percussion parts
that I played in.
That's the loot brush.
The crowbar.
And then the box with mallets.
So the box-- this box mallet,
I use in a different section
where I took that material,
and re-tuned it,
and turned it into
a really weird sounding loop.
Every time I hear a percussive thing,
I think, "Well,
what if we did something weird
with the-- with the notes,
the sort of in--
Inherent overtones
that are in that.
Let's roll again.
I think scoring took a little longer,
because I'm sort of inventing
a new language
for this film in a way, right?
And it's-- in the past,
I've combined these sounds
as a textual layer
and this time,
I really pushed myself
to use only these sounds.
Interestingly enough,
although I didn't think of it
in the beginning
or I didn't think
it might be useful,
the weirdest textures that
I knew we could stretch out
and kind of
make ambient beds out of,
some of those sounds were great.
Ooh, that was a sound I called "piano monster".
That's worth revisiting, right?
Yeah, tell me about piano monster.
Oh, actually,
it's piano monster mating call.
'Cause it sounds like that.
That was one of the uh,
bowed piano notes,
but I just did it
really quickly,
and it sort of scraped along,
Oh, it's just ugly,
but put a bunch of uh,
reverb on that
and throw it over a creepy
There's a really nice low sound for the box and bow section.
There's some really
weird sound design elements,
they're kind of creepy
and horrible.
There's uh, something that--
This is what I call
"scream verb".
So that is--
we were talking earlier
about the microphone stand,
and how I was
moving the microphone stand,
and didn't think I was actually
capturing any good sound,
but that rubber against metal
uh, resonating
into the microphone
through the stand ended up
sounding like this.
And that reverb tail ends up
being something I use
for something else
and I turn it
into a rhythmic uh, element.
Some of the power tool sounds
were great.
and then that
wonderful reciprocating saw,
which just ended up
being a fantastic device
for building tension over time.
My aim for this was really to take to-- to--
To do it in a pure way, to--
to say, "What is the--
What to me
is the essence of this story
and how do I most purely tell
that story in musical terms
using uh, using you know,
that I've made myself.
It's handmade,
it's a handcrafted thing, right?
That was-- that was really
the big thing for me.
Just to have it say,
"This is all me."
We're rollin'.
- You guys ready?
- Yeah.
We're all talking in our voice,
like we're all saying something
that we wanted to say
and we're doing it
the way we wanted to do it,
there's n-- we're not tryin'
to make something in a way
that we think other people want
to see it, right?
We're doing--
this is just our crazy outing
and we're just gonna go for it.
You gotta go faster.
Hey, you son of a bitch!
And to me, I think any time you're doing that as an artist
uh, that's the best way to work,
because if you're
gonna succeed on any terms
it may as well be on your own,
'cause I think we really just
threw everything at the wall,
and just went crazy, and--
and you know, come what may,
I'll be-- I'll be very happy
and proud of this.
Alright, it's been 13 days.
I think I've been
in the box four times now.
I haven't seen either of us for
at least two days.
I haven't seen me for five
and the last time I seen Tommy.
There's fuckin' three of them
and they might be
workin' together, so...
Well, that's fucking terrifying.
Uh, why the fuck are you back?
So imagine I got a pretty
fuckin' disturbin' video message
last week from myself.
That's why I'm back.
Now, what you been doin'
with that fuckin' timebox?
Nothin', eh?
Look, when we found that thing
and accidentally
copied ourselves,
the hunt was supposed
to be a one-time thing
to try and fix it, right?
One copy dies, one goes free
into the world.
But let me guess,
you kept goin', didn't you?
Son of a bitch!
Somethin' like that.
Goddammit, most people discovered time machine,
they Back to the Future
that shit,
bet on the fuckin' Super Bowl.
But you guys use it
to fuckin' hunt each other?
Let's roll again.
Somethin' happened
when you went through it,
didn't it?
You got made wrong.
We made a fuckin' game, man.
Time travel's not a game, man.
Didn't you see
fuckin' Terminator ?
Goddamn that timebox.
Now, I gotta come back here,
fix this shit,
and finish the game.
Now, where's the original Tommy
and how many fucking copies
are out there?
You started this game,
but you don't finish it.
You shouldn't have come back.
You had a free life,
now you got none.