17. Remote

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In 2015, TropFest Australia, a short film competition, introduced a separate scoring/soundtrack element.  The short film (Remote by Michael Noonan), with a single line of dialog and containing only incidental sound captured by the camera, was made available for download.
The ‘western’ look allowed me to re-purpose a small 2-section guitar piece I had written several years earlier.  However getting things to fit to the movie was a task and a half.  Fortunately, the old version of Pro Tools 8 I had at the time still allowed me to import a movie.  I could then change the music tempo and see and hear how the music matched the frames and cuts.  For example if a guitar section was 30 bars long but slightly TOO long timewise to match the scene(s), I could change tempo until the piece fitted the visuals exactly (e.g. the chord ending on the car door being closed).  The final piece through the credits had a repeat section but I had to cut it out completely in order to make an approximate fit, then tempo-changed it to fit exactly (end fade times can be shortened or lengthened to suit).
Incidental sounds like the wind and crows were added to improve the ‘feel’ of the remote location. The whips and my breathy ‘aaaah’ were added to underscore the spaghetti Western aspect. The ‘tension’ sound during the middle digging scene was one of the many free synth-FX sounds in Pro Tools, as were the rising MIDI ‘guitar’ chord strikes.
Becoming aware of the scoring competition quite late, I had roughly 1-2 weeks to think it through and complete it, and I submitted it just before the deadline.  A few weeks later I was notified that the film had been withdrawn from competition due to complaints about depictions of misogyny!   It seems that rape, murder, incest, torture etc. are OK as standard fare for ‘entertainment’ on prime-time TV/Film, but a joke about misogyny is pushing the envelope too far?
I was invited to have a crack at a new film being offered.  I declined.  TropFest went bust the very next year!
The Director of Remote, Michael Noonan (http://michaeljnoonan.com/films), created a Facebook group just for those people who had scored his film. Sixteen of us uploaded our work for viewing/listening.  I felt that mine might not have been the most accomplished musicianship, but was the best FIT for the film – supporting the atmosphere, tension, the reveal, and the changeup at the end. 
On my request, Michael very kindly gave me permission to use his film with my score as the official published music video for this track.  The original footage was light years ahead of anything I could have done myself and has saved me HOURS of effort in thinking up and making a music video from using my usual method – stills photography.
It was only in the process of finding his permission in early 2019 that I came across the originally released film/soundtrack - https://vimeo.com/56668221. I was surprised that the composer, David Lazar (a professional), had used strings/orchestra from start to finish with very little punctuation to match the scenes. 
The video I have put up on the album Channel https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q_KIu46rfxI is my full length original submission - 4:39.  My (lazy) intention for the album was to use my complete original soundtrack but, in the end, I felt this was cheating and it would sound ‘baggy’ without the visuals for context. So I restructured it in strict time, replacing parts which had been cut or shortened purely to match the visuals. I also removed unnecessary audio, e.g. long pauses in the opening desert scenes, and the walking/digging scenes. I also added a glissando up from the ‘digging’ guitar because the final section now followed quickly and was in a different key.  As a result, the album track is 2:50. The nylon guitar is my old Yamaha G255A with new strings, borrowed back from one of my sons.  In the first section, the single guitar plays the tune and strums concurrently ... it sounds more complicated than it is.    In the second section, the ‘electric guitar’ was keyboard-entered MIDI with the nylon guitar strumming the rhythm in the background and accentuating the bass note of each chord.

 

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watch the film clip