Cinezik : What inspired you most in the film?
Andrea Boccadoro : As often happens to me, the script and the early conversations with the director are my first spark of inspiration, from which i start writing some themes and creating sound palettes. For instance, I think about what instrumentation I am going to use and I make little 'watercolor' tracks, where I test the various sound colours. In the case of Scaramouche, Arthur approached me with the script a few weeks before shooting, so I responded to the script and his ideas for the film, writing a few tracks, before the film was shot. Later in the process, the performance of Pauline Chomienne for the character of Ophélie was so strong, that she entirely took me on her journey, and she was my other guide most of the time, along with the directions of Arthur, who was communicating his vision and reviewing my work. Such compelling direction and performance enabled me to access the character of Ophélie, and helped me develop the ideas that I had composed to the script. This is particularly the case for the main theme of the short film, Ophélie, which I wrote in a way that would make it sound like an accompaniment and a counterpoint to Ophélie singing 'Un, deux, trois, soleil!' For that one, I adapted an earlier music draft that was composed to the script. Once I realised that i could counterpoint to Pauline's singing, we got very excited and the theme started feeling like a convincing expansion of her character. I then arranged this theme in different variations in a lot of different places. We used it as a 'childhood' theme, that marks her experience and her transition into a more grown-up state, through the fatality of her own growing illness.
Was it to marry the eyes of this little girl?
Yes there is, but it's very subtle things here and there in the score and instrumentation, so I don't know if anyone will ever notice them!
1. a pitch-shifted, slowed down aluphone sound that is part of the texture of the main theme Ophélie, and comes back in the ophtalmologist studio, and at the big climax at the end of the film. It is used as a sort of long note pad to convey the idea that the vision is somehow 'distorted', and through this distortion a different 'reality' emerges.
2. The glissando synths that are heard in the CCTV scene, where Ophélie looks closer in the TV and sees Scaramouche.
3. The glissando timpani in the main theme Ophélie, the CCTV scene and elsewhere. They relate to a sort of 'focusing' struggle, when Ophélie is trying to see things in better detail.
Were there any references from the director?
There were some references from other scores (by Badalamenti, Burwell, and Elfman for instance). Some of them were general and some were discussed in relation to specific scenes. But there was never too much attachment to these, and Arthur and me really strived to find an original voice for the score. I hope we succeeded.
What was your approach of the genre (the horror movie)?
I tried to not think so much about genre in this project. In the end, the fantastic element happens in the imagination of Ophélie, so it is not that supernatural and it is rather psychological. The 'fantastic' elements of the score came quite spontaneously, as we were trying to convey Ophélie's experience and her journey, but they do mix with elements that belong more to drama, and I think that reflects the content of the film, which has also a focus on the social background of the characters and their family relationships.
Tell us about the choice of instruments? especially the use of strings ...
It's interesting that you mention the strings because, i thought, they wouldn't be as much in the foreground as other instruments like dulcitone (a sort of creepy and unusual toy piano-celesta), or percussion, which really make the fantastic and unsettling elements of the score.
I would say that the strings represent the emotional core of the film and the growing feeling that Ophèlie has, of having to grow up and face 'reality', her relationship with her father and her own imagination. I always create the harmony at the piano or the strings. Considering that the harmony expresses the underlying mood of a piece of music, it's as if the strings are about the true emotions of Opheliè, when she's either scared, or excited in her fantasies, or in the end sad and finally brave, strong. In fact, as the character of Ophélie develops, the harmonies become less fantastic and more dramatic, because Ophélie is growing an awareness of her situation. Therefore, the strings lead this transition into a more 'mature' writing, less child-like.
Other instruments I've used are dulcitone, timpani, xylophone, aluphone, vibraphone, related to either scaramouche or Opheliè's fantasies in general. These instruments are almost like a product of her imagination, when they become objective visions, like Scaramouche and TicTac, so they are like toy characters in her room, that play or interact with her.
Some crazier stuff like bowed bycycles were really helpful to give a very aggressive and otherworldly nature to Scaramouche, but in a way where it would still feel like the aggression is not direct, it always comes from behind, from somewhere where you 'can't see'.
The harp is a sort of 'bridging' instrument that can play both with the strings and with the percussion/creepy toy characters, so I used it to put the two worlds in communication with one another.
I also enjoyed creating little details like timpani glissandos, and in general with the xylophone and percussion I wanted to characterise Scaramouche as this very weird, travelling, perhaps once sailor, character. To give him an element of primitive exoticism but without an ethnical connotation (although apparently he is a creature of Neapolitan heritage?).
What place do you assign to the writing of themes? As well as the place with the atmospheric aspect, the climate of the film?
That's a very good question because it's always difficult to find a balance between these two aspects. For me they are both essential and cannot be separated, in a way.
I think that if you push too much the thematic aspect of a score, you end up with music that feels too 'external' to the film. On the other hand, if you stay too much in the atmospheric element, 'serving' the climate of the film and being passive to it, your music becomes too liquid and gets lost in the cinematography, in the sound design, under dialogue, etc, and you may end up lacking the strength and voice that makes the contribution of music to the film so important. Just like composition and orchestration cannot be totally separated, in an ideal scenario your thematic ideas should come up already with a hint of instrumentation and a sense of atmosphere that is specific to the film.
Does this score fit into your usual musical style or is it a case apart?
Yes I think it fits my style, in the sense that it felt very spontaneous while writing it. I didn't have to force a language, I felt like I was speaking my own language.
I haven't written so much for projects with fantastic elements in the past, but this is a score I really wanted to write and in which I discovered a range of emotions and sounds that I surely want to take further in future projects.