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- June 19, 2002 at 8:08 pm #35440AnonymousGuest
I found an interview, Danny Elfman and Tim Burton, at http://www.amazon.co.uk.
Here it is…
Amazon.co.uk: So what brought the Oingo Boingo singer/songwriter and the Disney doodler together in the early 1980s for Pee Wee’s Big Adventure?
Tim Burton: I used to see Danny in clubs, when I wasn’t even in the film industry. Oingo Boingo were very theatrical, and had a narrative subtext under them. Not like film music exactly, but there was something about the band’s music that seemed very filmic. So when I had the opportunity to make a movie there was no question it would be great to ask him. He’d been successful in a band, but on the film we were both starting out at the same time. It felt very contemporary to have somebody who was like me in that we knew what we were doing but we didn’t know what we were doing! We were sort of stupid and arrogant to think we could do it. It was funny to see him in clubs and then dealing with a big orchestra for the first time.
Amazon: Do you talk about music outside of film?
Danny Elfman: We hardly talk about music–almost never. Probably more cinema. We seem to have many common bonds in terms of films.
Burton: I guess the only thing I’m not a huge fan of is Country music, and Jazz where it’s not melodic. Music is such a great mood enhancer and identifier, so I like all sorts. We have similar tastes in a lot of things. I know the kind of movies that he likes. We both know where our roots are, so we don’t need to talk about it too much. For Sleepy Hollow we threw around a couple of things like the music of Les Baxter and some of those Roger Corman or Italian horror films. We don’t go too much into that because he does what he does. We don’t often get into specific inspirations.
Elfman: If I was going to do any research I’d have turned to Hammer. But I didn’t actually even do that. I intended to, but there just wasn’t time.
Amazon: What’s your starting point when you get together?
Burton: I actually don’t like to talk about it too much before. I’ll tell him what’s going on. He’s kind of the same way I think. “Let’s see what it is and what develops”. We talk about things loosely. I start giving him cut footage. I think it’s like an athlete that you wouldn’t want to peak too soon. We do it when it’s right so as not to drive ourselves crazy–which we do anyway!
Elfman: I always start with some of the biggest stuff. It’s normal for me to do quite a bit from the beginning, then jump to the middle, then to the end. For Sleepy Hollow I knew that there were certain scenes like the Horseman’s first appearance that I really had to nail. If I did my homework, then by the time I got to the big action scenes at the end there wouldn’t be a problem. There are four basic themes. One generally surrounds the Horseman when he’s not on screen. There’s an anti-heroic fanfare when rearing his horse. There’s a secondary theme I use for propulsion around the Horseman’s arrival. Then what I’d call a main theme, which bounces between different characters. That’s more of a fairy-tale thing in the dream sequences, and revolves around Johnny Depp’s character quite a bit. But then I also use it darkly over moments with the Horseman himself when he’s cutting off heads. I wasn’t expecting to do that, but that’s the kind of thing that evolves when you’re scoring. You go: “oh, here I am using the little innocent theme inverted over the Horseman”.
Amazon: Have you done anything specific with the make-up of the orchestra for Sleepy Hollow?
Elfman: There’s a lot of LOW. I knew that I wanted lots of LOW things. The most unusual thing about the orchestra is the number of bass clarinets. A contra-bass flute, which I’d never even seen before. We used six bass trombones instead of the usual one or two. Two tubas instead of one. Ten horns instead of my normal six or eight. That was the fun of it–lots of nice deep growls.
Amazon: What are the proudest musical moments from your collaborations?
Elfman: Every one of our films has something that’s a favourite. The breakfast scene in Pee Wee’s Big Adventure. Main titles in Beetlejuice. In Batman there are three or four scenes that are really amongst my favourites. Edward Scissorhands is still probably my favourite score. Nightmare Before Christmas has so much. And on Mars Attacks! I really enjoyed doing the opening titles.
Burton: Danny’s been like a character in the films. I’ve always tried not to have previews of a film until his score is in. It’s like missing the production design or the lead actor. He’s crucial to helping out with the tone of things. I’m not a musician, but I have this sort of rhythmic thing in my mind. What’s good about him is he’s usually able to see and get it. I think as we go on for both of us we get to a similar place where we’ve worked together so much that there’s real easy communication–which is great for me!
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