by Dan Goldwasser
Trevor Jones, who has scored such films as The Last of the Mohicans, The Mighty, Dark City and Notting Hill recently scored the Cuban Missile Crisis thriller, Thirteen Days. Jones was kind enough to provide SoundtrackNet with some information about his working process on this exciting and tense film.
"I first discussed the music for Thirteen Days with Roger Donaldson on location in Los Angeles during shooting breaks. It was the first time we had worked together and I was extremely delighted to be working with him, and on such a prestigious project. The film sets out intensely and continues to build in tension right to the end - there are very few moments without music. Roger Donaldson's brief for the music was focused and clear, being at once extraordinarily supportive, he allowed me the freedom to put my perspective on the ideas we discussed and the vision he had so brilliantly realized on the screen.
I worked in London writing and e-mailing my music (as MP3s) directly to the cutting room in L.A. My working day generally starts at 7am, which enables me to achieve a tremendous amount before 6pm London time, which is 10am in L.A. This meant that the music could be put to picture and Roger could hear all I had done that day, giving me his thoughts and notes via our music editor who e-mailed it immediately to London.
The sketches were mock-ups using orchestral samples that gave him a very realistic picture of the score that I later recorded with the London Symphony Orchestra. After about six weeks of writing we had a two-week summer break after which I was able to return to the picture rested and able to re-examine my work through refreshed, objective ears.
The system worked superbly and I was able to polish and fine-tune until we were both satisfied that we had maximized the contribution the score could make to the film. Roger's inspiration and enthusiasm throughout the project had the entire music department striving to achieve on every level. The music we felt would not only build and enhance the tension, but also reflect the inner crisis of the main characters as well as the global crisis.
This was a real challenge to my writing craft and one that I truly enjoyed rising to. A great project for me is not only one which succeeds critically and commercially but also leaves me feeling that I have extended myself, and with the help of a great director, surpassed the high standards that I aim for. It is also one that enables me to achieve more fluency in the craft of scoring films and maximized the contribution the music can make to the film. In these respects Thirteen Days is a major landmark for me, and I thank Roger Donaldson, Ilona Herzberg, Armyan Bernstein, Peter Almond, Kevin Costner and all at New Line for the opportunity to contribute to this very special project."
Thirteen Days opens nationwide this Friday. The soundtrack is available from New Line Records. Upcoming projects for Jones includes To End All Wars and From Hell.
Thanks to Wendy Rutherford at New Line Cinema. All images © 2001 New Line Cinema, except photo of Trevor Jones, which is © SoundtrackNet