I would agree and yet your film is perhaps the most unique and innovative thing that many of these folks will see on television in quite some time. Black Sun is almost subversive in its use of counterpoint between the images, your music and Hugues' dialogue.
Tarn: I think you're probably right. That HBO will show a film like this might actually give some filmmakers a little bit of hope and inspiration to be a bit more risky in what they're making.
de Montalembert: I think that you used a very good word -- "counterpoint." The film is based on the counterpoint between the words, images and music.
In what way does the scoring for your own project differ from writing music for a project by another director, such as Stephen and Timothy Quay's Phantom Museum?
Tarn: It depends on who you're working for. With the Quays, our relationship is very giving and open. They had written and cut the film to music [by Zdenek Liska] which they found they weren't able to use due to copyright reasons. They came to me and said, "Look, this is what we've done. We've cut it and we can't use this music and we don't want to re-edit the film. Are you interested? We don't want you to do a carbon copy version. Do your own thing." That's how they left it with me and I went off and scored my own version, looking at the beats and the tempos of what was there. And then they really didn't like all that I'd come back with! It was too big and too full. They wrote me a lovely letter saying, "Dear Gary… my goodness, it's not quite right. Do you hate us, do you never want to talk to us again, or shall we come to your studio and have a look?" So I said, "Come down and let's have a play!"
They came down and we pulled the tracks apart and discovered what they really liked. I was very happy that they found I had just over-scored everything. If we pulled three or four of the tracks out, we were left with a very simple score that had the essence of what I'd been writing. I basically took that and worked the rest of the score around it. But I was very much left on my own, which is quite rare. Normally, when you're composing for someone else, you get quite constrained. Those narrow margins literally destroy the soul of a composer if you don't like working in that way. You feel like you're basically at someone's beck-and-call and tend to have to please a larger audience. The Quays, though, were great. It was right after that piece that I was convinced to get on with Black Sun. It reminded me that I actually quite liked writing music and I like doing something where I have a little bit of freedom.
You shot this footage in 16mm?
Given the intricacy of the film, you assembled Black Sun on a computer?
Tarn: In Final Cut, on an Apple. I don't think that I could be making films if I didn't have my Mac.
de Montalembert: It makes you lighter. I used to make films in 35mm. It's very heavy. Now you are very light. I go around with my little computer and I can write and I have a little camera.
Tarn: It is doable. I literally scored the whole film and edited the whole film inside a Mac. Twenty years ago, it would have just been impossible. There was no real way of doing all this yourself.
de Montalembert: Plus some thousands of dollars.
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