Interview: Aldo Shllaku on Composing Ryuhei Kitamura's Downrange + First Clip and Poster - Dread Central
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Interview: Aldo Shllaku on Composing Ryuhei Kitamura’s Downrange + First Clip and Poster

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Ryuhei Kitamura is known to horror fans for his films Versus, The Midnight Meat Train, Godzilla: Final Wars, Azumi, and so many others. The film is having its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, where viewers will get to see a deranged sniper stalk and pick off a group of stranded friends one-by-one in a gleeful explosion of carnage.

We had the chance to speak with Downrange composer Aldo Shllaku, who worked previously with Kitamura on Lupin the 3rd. Shllaku’s approach to composing Downrange was fascinating, to say the least, utilizing clever methods to turn sound into music, adding a sense of immediacy to the film. You can read our interview below.

Downrange stars newcomer Kelly Connaire, Stephanie Pearson (Insidious: Chapter 2), Rod Hernandez-Farella, Anthony Kirlew, Alexa Yeames (“The Originals”), and Jason Tobias (“Notorious”). It is currently scheduled to be released in early 2018.

Synopsis:
Six college students are carpooling cross-country when one of their tires blows out on a desolate stretch of country road. Getting out to fix the flat, they quickly discover that this was no accident. The tire was shot out. With their vehicle incapacitated, the group is pinned down and mercilessly attacked by an unseen assailant as they desperately attempt to find a way to escape.

Dread Central: Tell me about coming aboard Downrange and what it was like to add music to Ryuhei Kitamura’s vision.

Aldo Shllaku: Downrange is my third collaboration with Ryuhei. He and I had discussed the project starting at a very early phase.  There was no script at that time, there was only the concept for this gritty thriller about a deranged sniper who shoots people. Another important consideration was the way he wanted to make this film: independent guerrilla style, a way that would bring him back to his roots of independent filmmaking, a-la Versus, his first feature, which put Kitamura on the map as a genre director and filmmaker. 

Right away I told Ryuhei that I wanted to make the sniper’s gun an integral part of the score. It was a first instinct and a concept that got him very excited. From that point on it became a question of how to enrich that initial idea I had.  I knew, though, that it would be almost impossible to have an interesting and supportive score with just sounds from one riffle. However, I was not too worried at that point because until they’d wrap up the film shoot there was enough time to think and come up with something that would serve Ryuhei’s vision.

DC: I hear that you used some rather unorthodox techniques to create the score, including sampling the guns for use as percussion and having the cast and crew lend their voices. Can you go into some detail about that?

AS: I was lucky to have a few months to work on the score, read the script, go on set, discuss more with Ryuhei — all the while sticking to my first reaction to the story. I built the score focusing on three elements: melodic material, textures, and the rhythm section, essentially breaking down what music consists of: melody, harmony, and rhythm.

For the rhythm section I sampled the weapons in a very detailed way using them as percussive instruments. I took the recorded sounds and treated them further with sound-design tools to make even more sounds.  Then I had everything programmed in a format that I could access and use during the writing process.

For the melodic material, I used the serial system with seven notes. These notes are derived from the title of the film: Downrange.  I already had four notes in the title, D, A, G and E. The other three notes I found by using a math calculus based on the correlation of the remaining three letters (O, W and N) to the English alphabet. That number was used to place these three notes in the series and after a few more math calculations I had my seven notes, the prime, and lastly my matrix. 

I wanted to see the harmony as sound texture and not necessarily as harmonic formulas or harmonic language. For this reason, the director and three actors came into the studio to “sing” the word Downrange in many many different ways. Then each letter individually with the focus on the letter R (to complete all the letters on the title of the film). Again, these recordings were processed through sound-design tools and more sounds and textures were created.  Then, same as with the weapon sounds, I had everything programmed for use during the writing process.

It was a laborious process but at the end very rewarding, as I wanted to be to these characters as close as possible sonically and bring these characters as close as possible to the score.

DC: Snipers, at least for me, call to mind a certain sense of tense patience, as though each moment must be accounted for yet have the ability to burst into shocking violence. What was your mindset when approaching the score for the film?

AS: Acknowledging the sniper was not a priority; staying with the terror created by him was a necessity. The story stays with the victims most of the time and things are presented from their perspective. We realize how deranged, how patient, how ruthless the sniper is, through his victims’ struggles to survive. However, when it came to the sniper himself, Ryuhei and I wanted to infuse a little bit of an 80’s feel to the score. We like that music, we are fans of that music, hence, the use of the analog synths in the instrumentation. It’s one of those moments when you say, why not, let’s have a little bit of fun with this. The same synth ostinato played when we first reveal the sniper in the film is repeated as the very last notes of the end titles, a track which displays in full glory the weapon sounds.

DC: Do you feel that horror/thrillers offer different kinds of musical opportunities that other genres don’t?

AS: Each genre gives and at the same time restricts you of certain creative freedoms. Horror/thriller is a particular genre because one gets that experimental canvas. For a composer it is perfect – almost no limits to creativity. There is a great number of insanely beautiful references by the masters of the genre that show how creative you can be. It’s always inspiring to hear the horror/thriller scores of Bernard Herrmann, Jerry Goldsmith, Ennio Morricone, John Williams, Christopher Young and many more. With this genre as a composing canvas and with a director that is willing to go on a creative journey with you, sky is the limit.  I am grateful to Ryuhei for giving me that freedom and for sticking with me during the process.

DC: I always like to think that the music of a film is a character of its own. If you had to describe your music as an actual physical character in the movie, what would that character look and be like?

AS: The music is the character that sees everything, that is in pain with everyone, that runs whenever there is danger. It’s a mirror of the intense struggle for survival and the terrorizing experience these characters have to endure. It’s the witness, hiding somewhere in plain sight… sharing the ordeal and at the end the same fate as everyone else.

DC: What’s next for you? 

AS: I have just completed the writing and recording of the score for another film directed by Ryuhei and I’m currently in the mixing phase. I am also writing the score for a feature that follows the adventure of a national soccer team.  A departure from the genre of my last three films, this one is a feel good film, and I’m really enjoying creating music for it.

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Want a LEGO Godzilla Set? Here’s Your Chance!

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The longest-running franchises in cinema history, the Godzilla films have created a cultural icon in the form of the titular beast. Simply hearing its roar or seeing its silhouette is enough to let us know precisely what we’re looking at. Having ventured out of cinema and forayed into TV shows, comic books, video games, and countless merchandise options, Godzilla still hasn’t managed to break into one of the world’s most popular toy company: LEGO. However, that might change if BRICK_101 has their say via LEGO Ideas, where they submitted a design based on the 1954 original film!

Here’s the description from the site:
This model contains approximately 850 LEGO pieces, stands 9 inches (23 cm) tall, and measures 17 inches (44 cm) from head to tail. Godzilla has had many different designs over the years, but we based ours on the original 1954 movie. The arms, legs, jaw, and tail are hinged to allow the model to be posed in a variety of positions. In addition to Godzilla, the set also includes a small microscale train for Godzilla to stomp on or chomp on and a flame piece to represent Godzilla’s atomic breath.

The website allows people to submit their own ideas (such as this Call of Cthulhu set) and then allow the public to vote on whether or not they want to see it get made. Should the idea get 10,000 votes, it then gets moved up the ladder within LEGO’s headquarters and a decision is made to see if they want to make an official set.

So, if you want to see LEGO make an official Godzilla set, click on the link above and cast your vote!

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#Brainwaves Episode 78 Guest Announcement: Legendary Film Composer Harry Manfredini

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The Friday the 13th franchise without the music of Harry Manfredini would be like peanut butter without jelly. McDonalds without the Big Mac. Knetter without Creepy. His music defined a generation of horror fans, and few could have done it better, if at all. Now Manfredini brings his equally as unique voice to Brainwaves Horror and Paranormal Talk Radio.

Join us this coming Wednesday, February 21st, at 8:00PM PT/11:00PM ET for all the shenanigans fit to be had!

It’s radio without a safety net, kids. It’s Brainwaves: Horror and Paranormal Talk Radio.

SUPPORT BRAINWAVES ON PATREON!

Listen to Stitcher

Brainwaves: Horror and Paranormal Talk Radio is available to subscribe to on iTunes and Stitcher.

Spooky, funny, touching, honest, offensive, and at times completely random, Brainwaves airs live every Wednesday evening beginning at 8:00 PM Pacific Time (11:00 midnight Eastern Time) and runs about 3 hours per episode.

Knetter and Creepy will be taking your calls LIVE and unscreened via Skype, so let your freak flags fly! Feel free to add BrainWavesTalk to your Skype account so you can reach us, or call in from a landline or cellphone – 858 480 7789. The duo also take questions via Twitter; you can reach us at @BrainwavesRadio or @UncleCreepy, @JoeKnetter, or @MrDarkDC using the hashtag #BrainWaves. You can also check us out on our Brainwaves Discord channel!

Have a ghost story or a paranormal story but can’t call in? Feel free to email it to me directly at UncleCreepy@dreadcentral.com with “Brainwaves Story” in your subject line. You can now become a fan of the show via the official… BRAINWAVES FACEBOOK PAGE!

Brainwaves: Horror and Paranormal Talk Radio is hosted live (with shows to be archived as they progress) right here on Dread Central. You can tune in and listen via the FREE TuneIn Radio app or listen to TuneIn right through the website!

For more information and to listen live independent of TuneIn, visit the Deep Talk Radio Network website, “like” Deep Talk Radio on Facebook, and follow Deep Talk Radio on Twitter. And don’t forget to subscribe to Brainwaves on iTunes.

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Supernatural Irish Horror Beyond the Woods Hits Home Video and VOD This February

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Supernatural Irish horror Beyond the Woods makes its way to DVD and VOD from Left Films!

Shot on location in Ireland, Beyond the Woods echoes the creepy supernatural horror of recent Irish genre hits The Hallow and The Canal, with its eerie and grisly tale of an unknown evil.

Synopsis:
Seven friends meet up in the Irish countryside for a secluded weekend getaway but unfortunately for them a fiery sinkhole has opened up in the mountains nearby. It’s burning hot, spewing out sulphur and casting a hellish stench over the local area. Determined to make the most of the weekend, the group decide not to let the noxious atmosphere get to them…but it’s getting worse. Soon the troubling hallucinations begin as an ancient evil starts to take hold. What malevolent force has crawled from the sinkhole and will any of them survive the weekend?

Following a successful run on the festival circuit where it picked up the Best Feature Film Award at the World International Film Festival Montreal in 2017, Seán Breathnach’s spine-chilling low budget nightmare finally makes its way to UK and North American DVD and VOD courtesy of Left Films.

On digital/VOD February 5th, DVD February 19th.

UK DVD AMAZON
UK VOD ITUNES
US VOD ITUNES

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