Ottman and Bryan Singer | Gimme a C... a Bouncy C
emily blunt article
first "soundtrack" I received was The Beatles' Help
album. I played it so much the album started to skip. In between
the "songs" were these delightful instrumental pieces
that reminded me of the film and the adrenaline within the film.
About 1000 soundtracks later, you could call me an addict.
have a supreme power in a film. Since the medium was born music
has been there guiding audiences' emotion and accenting the drama.
Silent films have scores. The piano that accompanied a print usually
came with the studio issued sheet music, complete with side-notes
on where the theater should add sound effects.
helps drive a scene, define a character, and lead us into the
spot of the mind the director was heading...
of my favorite musical manipulators is John
Ottman. I discovered him via The Usual Suspects soundtrack.
I give this cd away to this day as gifts, instead of wine, to
my more arsty fartsy friends. There's nothing like popping in
that soundtrack and riding a bike about town! Everyone looks guilty
of some sinister deed. Which of course was the theme; confusion,
suspicion and suspense. Try it - trust me.
Like all composers, John Ottman's work isn't all on Academy Award
® winners. But his soundtracks are always
lasting and able to stand on their own.
has worked on several horror films like, Halloween H2O
and Pumkin as well as dark comedy like The Cable Guy.
I enjoyed Eight Legged Freaks for the
B horror flick it was and I'm quite sure Ottman's soundtrack assisted
in the enjoyment. He also has a long-term relationship with director
and cuteysteak Bryan Singer as both editor and composer
on Suspects, Apt Pupil and X-Men
2. Having been in an edit session for both the red
carpet shorts here at BluntReview.com, I can appreciate the
load this man must be under. Yet immense pressure allotted his
latest double duty piece, X-Men 2, is still perfect.
sat in on a question and answer session the two gave for The
Society of Composers and Lyricists the other night after screening
X-Men 2. They talked about having a shorthand and John's
admitted he kind of strong armed Ottman in a semi - "you'll
never work in this town-ish" way for their first dual role
collaboration, Public Access after the editor and composer
he's hired were not working out. And lucky for Singer, Ottman
Their relationship on The Usual Suspects created a plethora
of careers thanks to the pristine bits around the talented cast.
The unrealized "actors," which in this case as both
editor and composer were John Ottman, were just as important as
the devilishly complex script. Editing is so very important to
punctuate a director's vision and the music, when done right,
smoothly links scenes and keeps the flow of segments. The Usual
Suspects is a shining example of that power and in this case
produced by the same man.
talked about the character themes he tried to develop - before
scenes dissipated - in X-Men 2. He said the caveat was
the short amount of time vs the depth the characters needed to
distinguish themselves. He also admitted there's a restyled version
of Mozart's Requiem within all the mayhem that nicely linked the
also talked about the pressures of big budget studio films and
the absolute deadlines versus independent film where schedules
can be manipulated or stretched if time is needed. The two joked
about sharing a particularly intense powwow session for X-Men
2 under the influence of a calming solution that helped smooth
the score along...Singer just agreed to anything that evening
awaking with no recollection of his approvals! The audience of
peers were in hysterics. Tricks of the trades the jolly two insisted.
The stress can be strenuous and Singer joked Ottman's technique
wasn't unusual...some composers serve wine, others like Danny
Elfman serve directors, like Tim Burton, a couple of top-shelf
martinis so they can calmly get through a score session. My editor
Carrie Schultz and I get whacked off two-dolla Shaw and my graphics
- suddenly - get a tad Pythonesque while we roar with giddy glee...It's
called taking a tedious situation and making it fun-o-rama.
insists as also the editor on X-Men 2 he didn't edit with
a composer's eye, but went on to say he did leave a few scenes
pregnant for drama sake knowing later he'd accent with an oboe
or cymbal. And when he'd play back the synthesized score versions
that would later be orchestrated, he would add snippets of instruments
to grandly paint the audio visual for Singer.
was a delight to hear how a score comes together from the "temps"
they throw on a film to play for studio execs pre-final edit,
to the "cartoons" a composer/editor gets before the
real-life actors and stunt people get ahold of a scene. They joked
about the opening CGI heavy scene in X-Men 2 with the character
Nightcrawler (Alan Cumming). It was so delayed from the effects
department that neither of them actually saw the scene complete
until ten days prior to the film's final....you could see Singer
re-sweat over that little scene while Ottman squirmed reliving
the stress segments in his mind. Ah, wilderness .