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Mark R. Hasan : I understand you went to film school to study scoring.

Christopher Lennertz : I went to USC, and I went to Southern Cal, and graduated in '94. I studied with Elmer Bernstein I'm sure you know who he is and with Christopher Young, who's another big dark horror guy. I studied conducting, orchestration, and then composition at USC for four years, and then film scoring. I met Eric Kripke, the creator of Supernatural, when I began working on student films.

MRH : Some major names and veteran composers have assisted either as mentors or as full time professors in film schools. Are their contributions mostly philosophical - theoretical discussions and such - or do they actually get into the fine details and practical aspects of orchestrating and composition?

CL : They actually get into the finer details.... What you usually have to do is to re-score scenes to movies the professors have actually done; you re-score a scene from Hellraiser or Age of Innocence or something like that, and then they'll give you some directions and you'll score it. They'll give you some comments and critique, and you slowly move along in that direction; that's how we did it when I was there in the course.

MRH : And was Saint Sinner your biggest break at the time?

CL : It seemed like it at the time. I think it was, because of [Clive Barker's] involvement; it got a lot of response because he has such a loyal following.

MRH : And what brought you to the project? On the DVD's commentary track, the director described the music as being deliberately melodic, and I was really surprise at how rich the orchestrations were, how dense the writing was, and how it's basically a lush, sophisticated score that's rather atypical for the genre.

CL : I had worked with the director before - Joshua Butler, who also went to USC - and we had done a movie previous to that called Beer Money, which was actually a comedy, but we scored the comedy very much as over the top orchestral - the way that Elmer Bernstein would have done it.

Josh and I got along really well, and when he got the opportunity to do Clive's movie, he called Clive and said he wanted to use me. I sent Clive a bunch of material that I had done, and then he apparently got a good recommendation from Chris Young, who had scored Hellraiser 1 and 2 for Clive... and at that point I got the job.

Clive went above and beyond the call of duty for the movie because it was a film for the Sci-Fi Channel, which had a pretty small budget in being for television, and he really fought to get more money for the score because we had hoped to go overseas and record choir and orchestra, and really make it an almost tragic, operatic score in certain places... It was really thanks to him that the scope of the score became what it was for what was supposed to be sort of an ambient television type of score.

MRH : And prior to Saint Sinner, had you also done some television work? I think Brimstone is one of your early credits.

CL : Yeah, Brimstone is one of my earlier credits, and that was a great show that unfortunately just didn't catch on with viewers, and I did a show called The Strip that Joel Silver also produced, and that one was only on for half a year.

MRH : And now with Supernatural, I take it the first season is completed and aired?

CL : Yeah. This is the first season, and we got picked up, so we're coming back in September on the new CW network, which is the new merger between UPN and WB, and we'll be on, after Smallville, on Thursday nights.

MRH : Have you found that there's been a significant change in scoring for television in the intervening years?

CL : I think there's been a bit of a change. It's gotten even faster - where you have to turn episodes around quicker - but I think one of the really great things is that it's moved in the direction of more cinematic styled scoring.

You see a lot of TV shows that Jerry Bruckheimer is producing, and now you've got J.J. Abrams going from Lost and Alias jumping over and doing movies and going back, and so I think there's a lot of cross-pollination, and our particular show, Supernatural, is executive produced by McG, who did the Charlie's Angels movies. He comes from a movies background, as does my friend Eric who runs the show; it was Eric's creation, and he's a huge horror movie fan, and he jumped on that idea in trying to make a horror movie every week.

MRH : I was stunned at the quality of the music written for Abram's Lost and Alias, because it was so rich and so multi-thematic, which is not something that you normally get in TV. Usually after the pilot is done, they engage the composer, and I wonder if that's often the one occasion where you really have the time and the luxury to develop the themes and the sounds for the show, because whatever is done there will become the music library for the rest of the series.

CL : It'll definitely create the tone of the series, but I think you're totally right. Some of the way series are being developed will allow for a little more distance between the sounds every week, and allow for more expression. On Supernatural, specifically, every week is new - whether it be fable or a new legend or a new supernatural part that is sort of the nemesis for that week's episode. [The characters are] also running all around the country- so one week they're in New Orleans, and one week they're on a native American reservation or something, and by having characters that travel and don't stay in the same place, you can explore different elements of the music that way.

They were in the South at one point, and there was a Baptist minister, and the idea of early, early religion and tarot. We brought in a lot of instruments the Armenian duduk, and some of the early religious instruments from the south that they would have played in beat up, old Baptist churches - just for that one episode.

The lead character, Dean, is a classic rock fan, so some episodes are more urban, while others will have more elements of rock guitars. Other episodes will be really, really creepy and religiously inspired, and that allows us to really stretch our limb and bring the music into different spots throughout the show while still retaining a voice.

Clive Barker's Saint Sinner

Snapshot from BRIMSTONE


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