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Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross Wrote A Movie Scene For Me, Pretty Much

Okay, so you are just walking to work, listening to music. Pretty standard. Leading into this let me just say that walking to (or from) work is actually a time when I do some of my clearest and / or creative thinking. No real distractions, and it is just me. And maybe some traffic. Or a gust of wind. Meh. And the music I choose, which can be a bit of a ritual, and can often be planned the night before.

The music can depend on several things. It can simply be something I am really into at any given time. It can be something I heard and thought ‘Oh I haven’t heard that in ages’ or ‘I can’t believe I have not heard that yet’. It can be sporadic too – just open Spotify and have a think and a search. It can also be directly linked to the movie / screenplay I am working on at that time. And often, like the music that brings me to this very post, it can be something brand new or eagerly awaited.

Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross are relatively new as a collaborative team, but they clearly have their huge fans of the work they have done so far – namely scoring one, two, three of David Fincher’s movies. I was a fan of their soundtrack for The Social Network. I was a fan of what they did with The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. And now, although having not seen the film yet (but well into the book), it looks like I am a fan of their latest work for the movie Gone Girl. Their music is kind of an acquired taste in the sense that it appears the more I listen to them that you tend to get something different from the music with each session. Not to mention I am now very much in the mind that the three albums also seem more different from each other, again with the more you listen. As modern movie scores go, they might well be the revolution.

Linking all this together then. I was walking to work and having been kind of haunted, nerve-prodded, and completely impressed with the track “Consummation” from the Gone Girl score the night before, I just played that on repeat a couple of times. And what happened was my thoughts, my creative thoughts we shall say, drifted straight into Monsters & Angels. Not the song by Voice Of the Beehive, but the screenplay I started writing a few year ago. A screenplay that has pretty much be ready to be drafted for some time. But there was a piece missing. There was a scene or a sequence not there, missing, that would have driven the dramatic narrative from one arc of events with the central characters right into the huge (12 minute) action sequence that threatens to wipe out the main character from the story altogether.

That scene, that linking scene, the glue, just came to me as I was walking to work, and while listening to Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’ Consummation track. It was like I was watching the scene I had not yet written as a movie in my head. And the music scored the scene perfectly. The music basically wrote the scene, a short scene of maybe three or four minutes. A dramatic scene where we finally realize out main character is slightly mad, and probably in some danger now. It was a perfect moment, and a perfect scene. I just hadn’t written it yet. The track was repeated, and the scene played out again, in pretty much the same way. Like you would watch one of your favorite scenes. Then watch it again. And again. Admiring the way the music and the scene go so well together.

Alas, I got to work and made sure by the end of the shift I had written the scene in full. And so it was, and so it is. Possibly the best scene I have written for many months actually. And I have listened to the music since, while reading the new scene. Over and over. It’s compulsive. The whole thing. And I am buzzing. So thanks Trent and Atticus – like Thomas Newman, like Lisa Gerrard, like John Barry, like many other great musicians, you continue to inspire me.


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