Back to Interview/Profile INDEX

MRH: Did Blomkamp have to fight to get you onto the feature, film, because I know sometimes studios prefer to use a major name composer, whether or not that person is or isn’t appropriate for that film?

CS: I don’t know exactly to what length he had to fight, because if you look at the reality of it, Peter Jackson gave him a lot of leeway.

Neill’s a first-time director; he co-wrote it with Terri Tatchell, his girlfriend, and it was the first screenplay they’d written; [you also have] a first-time actor; the cinematographer is Neill’s DP that he used for his commercials and shorts, but he’s never shot a feature before; and my buddy Julian Clarke is the editor.

Jules and I had about the same amount of experience - we’d never worked on a thing of this scope - but with all those people on, I felt pretty good that Neill wouldn’t have a problem getting me on there. We’re all really lucky that Peter Jackson gave Neill the kind of leeway that he got, so it’s good news for everybody.


MRH: This is your biggest film to date, and I noticed that you also worked with a lot of really good people, including The Prague Philharmonic Orchestra, music producer James Fitzpatrick, and I think Jeff Toyne is also credited in the film?

CS: Yeah, Jeff did a great job – just awesome. There were a lot of people that were able to work on this thing, and they gave me deals; we really had top penny-pinch, and I got a lot of favours, so I’m very thankful for everybody that I was able to work with for sure.


MRH: The music for District 9 is very different from Alive in Joburg. Were there any ideas that you ported over, or did you start completely from scratch?

CS: Neill was really challenging me to think outside the box because he felt he had a unique film on his hands. It was real tricky for the first few weeks; we were really trying everything – lots of different rhythms - and it took us the full three weeks of experimenting to get what we wanted and to get the palette down was a big trick… Once we got it, it was full steam ahead, and writing like crazy.


MRH: If a film is set in South Africa, it’s natural to use musical elements of that culture, but I find that you use African percussion and vocals to support the film’s conflicts rather than establish and remind audiences of the film’s setting.

CS: It’s a bit of a different character arc. [With leading character Wikus], we’re dealing with a guy who’s completely oblivious to the world around him; he’s really ignorant, you don’t like him at times, so it’s real tricky to make sure you get viewers to care for him. The ones you really want them to care for are the two aliens (the father and son) but you have to have some good feelings towards Wikus’ character arc, and it was tricky because he was usually working towards doing things for himself, except for that one key moment where he turns around and goes and helps [the father].

It was really trying to keep the score positive at times where what happens wasn’t necessarily very positive – to keep hope, to keep the viewer engaged – and that was definitely tricky, because there were moments where he’s being heroic but he’s not being heroic for the right reasons, so it was a challenge for sure.

The other big challenge was the fact that the movie’s first act is just basically a documentary, and I was having trouble figuring out exactly how Neill wanted it scored. He wasn’t too sure how to articulate what exactly he wanted, but I figured it out in the end. He just wanted it scored like a documentary, where there’s basically just blanket music without scoring around dialogue or sequences – not scoring what was actually happening.

He just wanted it to be blanketed from the top to set the mood, mostly with percussion, so we did that, and just started to introduce more and more orchestra and lead lines as the movie progressed, and got more cinematic and dramatic.

We tried keeping it as African as possible, but the drums weren’t big enough for Neill, and they weren’t dark enough, and all the smaller instruments that are down there just weren’t working. We had to take a lot of liberties just to keep the African percussion and smaller vocals in there, and even the rhythms weren’t aggressive enough.

Scene from District 9 (2009)

Wikus, in dire straits

Back to Page 1____Go to Page 3
Related Links___Exclusive Interviews & Profiles___Site FAQ
Back to Top of Page __ Back to MAIN INDEX (KQEK Home)
Site designed for 1024 x 768 resolution, using 16M colours, and optimized for MS Explorer 6.0. KQEK Logo and All Original KQEK Art, Interviews, Profiles, and Reviews Copyright © 2001-Present by Mark R. Hasan. All Rights Reserved. Additional Review Content by Contributors 2001-Present used by Permission of Authors. Additional Art Copyrighted by Respective Owners. Reproduction of any Original KQEK Content Requires Written Permission from Copyright Holder and/or Author.