ELEKTRA INTERVIEW: Composer Christophe Beck

Prolific film composer Christophe Beck is an old hand at scoring super-heroines. His music for Buffy the Vampire Slayer won him an Emmy, and he's gone on to compose for over 40 major motion pictures including; "Cheaper by the Dozen," "Saved," "Just Marrie
ComicBookMovie.com: Are you a comics fan?

Christophe Beck: I read Daredevil as a youth, but I haven't picked up anything as an adult. Although recently, because of my association with Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I checked out Joss Whedon's "Fray" comic, which I though was really cool. Besides that, somebody gave me "Watchmen", which I really liked.

ComicBookMovie.com: You know, Watchmen is being made into a movie as well.

Chris: Oh man, I can't wait to see that!

ComicBookMovie.com: How did you become involved with Elektra?

Chris: Through the efforts of the music supervisor, Dave Jordan, who does a lot of Marvel movies. He passed my CD on to the Director, and I guess I got lucky because my CD, among the many he was listening to, stood out to him.

ComicBookMovie.com: Do you think your BTVS experience helped you get chosen?

Chris: The Buffy experience helped in getting the movie, and definitely when scoring the movie because it was a great training ground for that kind of music.

ComicBookMovie.com: When composing for Elektra, did you ever go back to the Daredevil movie see what was going on with the music during Jennifer Garner's scenes?

Chris: We didn't. The Director wanted this movie to have its own identity separate from Daredevil. I did see Daredevil, and enjoyed the movie and the score, but we definitely did not go after any similar kind of theme for the Elektra movie.

ComicBookMovie.com: Were you given any directives about what they wanted in the music for Elektra?

Chris: The only thing that the Director, Bob Bowman, told me he wanted was to go for a non-traditional approach. He didn't want it to sound like a typical superhero movie--whatever that is. Besides that, I also knew he was a big fan of the orchestra sound, and very much wanted to spend some time recording with an orchestra. It seemed to me a perfect opportunity to combine the traditional orchestra with something a little more high content and futuristic.

ComicBookMovie.com: This was an 84 piece orchestra that you worked with. Is that considered on the big side, or what is called a "full" orchestra?

Chris: Yes, 84 is on the big side for sure. You got strings, woodwinds, brass and percussion. Those are the four major sections--most of which are the string players. And I did it a bit differently than I usually do. Normally, I write all the music and then go in and record it, but in this particular case I did a preliminary session with the orchestra to use as material for manipulation in my studio. Then I would take little pieces that I had recorded with this big 84 piece orchestra and turn them into something completely different, and THEN put another 84 piece orchestra on top of that. So it was kind of a high concept combination of electronics and orchestra.

ComicBookMovie.com: How long did this project take you?

Chris: A little longer than usual. Normally I have one or two months--sometimes even less, but in this particular case I was brought on early enough so that I had four months to work on it. Which was great. I wouldn't have had the kind of time to do the experimenting that I did without that extra time.

ComicBookMovie.com: So what was your creative process on Elektra, was it at all similar to what you did on Buffy?

Chris: The creative process of putting music up against picture, and kind of opening an additional channel between the film and its audience---that's the same, but what makes it different is that I have four months to work on it while on an episode of Buffy I may have four days. And the resources that I have at my disposal are much bigger on a major motion picture. I would never have been able to afford an orchestra for Buffy. And then as far as the differences between movies and television, the cues tend to be a little bit longer in films, so there tends to be more of an opportunity to make a complete musical statement. A lot of times in television you're going to commercial and you need fifteen seconds of music to take you into commercial. That doesn't happen in film. But apart from superficial differences, on a really abstract level the process is the same.

ComicBookMovie.com: How many times do you think you've seen the movie, and how do you keep it fresh while viewing it over and over again for the music?

Chris: I've seen most of the movie, that would be the scenes with music--which is 80% of the movie, Gosh, probably hundreds of times. Eventually you stop seeing it as a movie and you look at it as a problem to be solved. And that's one of the challenges about working on a score--how focused you get on the minutiae, and you end up some times having to take a step back to really see what you've been doing.

ComicBookMovie.com: Since you've seen it so many times, can you put on your critics hat and tell us what you think of the movie?

Chris: (laughing) Oh, it's impossible. I stopped forming opinions about the movies I worked on a long time ago because they bear absolutely no relation to reality. Also, the first time I watch a movie it's a very early cut, and that also is not a good way to judge a movie because at that time it's maybe an hour, even an hour and a half too long and it doesn't bear much resemblance to the finished product.

ComicBookMovie.com: What unique elements stood out to you in this film that you were able to put into the music?

Chris: It was just a great combination of different ideas and emotions to tap into musically. First, the core of the story is Elektra's journey--her self discovery. It's kind of a journey of redemption, and there was a very nice emotional component to the score. Then, the fight sequences, and the suspense sequences, and the mystical sequences just offered me a great palette to try interesting textures.

ComicBookMovie.com: Do you find any genre more appealing to orchestrate? Is one genre more difficult or easier than others?

Chris: Well, doing a movie like this is hard simply because of the amount of music. I do a lot of comedies, and they might have thirty or thirty-five minutes of score typically, where this movie has seventy-five to eighty minutes. Combine that with a tendency, in a movie like this, which is so effects heavy to have changes right up until the end, I think that was the biggest challenge with having to do a movie like this. But, I love to work in all genres. I think variety is the spice of life. And each genre has its own challenges.

ComicBookMovie.com: Are there any genres that you haven't covered that you'd like to?

Chris: I did Garfield, which is kind of like an animated film, but I'd like to do a full-feature animated film. I'd like to do an unapologetically gory, horror movie, and of course I'd like to do an oscar-winning drama, but that may take a little time.

Get YOUR copy of the Elektra score and soundtrack HERE

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