Christophe Beck is back at work scoring another season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. He took time out from his busy schedule to answer some more questions for the Buffy Music Pages. Note: Mr. Beck posts to the Official Posting Board occasionally.
Was there an element of scoring you found particularly challenging last season?
Besides the incredibly tight deadlines (9 days for 60+ minutes of music in Becoming parts 1 and 2!), not really. When I first started, it was definitely a challenge to find the right tone (I caught a rerun of WSWB and had to laugh when I saw that last classroom cue), but as the season progressed I was able to get a better bead on Joss' tastes, and find a more consistent tone for the show's music.
Looking back now on second season, which episode is your favorite? Why?
Becoming Part 1, hands down, with part 2 a close second. In part 1 there are several scenes where the music plays a featured role rather than a background one, which is always more satisfying to me. For example, the long shot of Darla "siring" Angel; Angel running through the forest, about to be cursed; young Buffy crying to herself as her parents fight in the next room; the big fight in the library; and of course the slo-mo run through the hallway and the discovery of the carnage in the library. I like these kinds of episodes because I get to show off a little more.
(Special note: Mr. Beck won the Emmy for Best Dramatic Score for "Becoming, Part 1"!)
Is there something you would like to experiment with in regard to the music this season?
I've been exploring the idea of solo female voice - I just used it in episode three and it turned out great. Also sampled goat sounds (Joss' request).
Will we be hearing more of the Buffy/Angel love theme? Will it be available on CD?
Yes, it MAY play a key role during Angel's POSSIBLE return from Hell. And, no, as of now there are no plans to include any score on the upcoming Buffy soundtrack. Maybe if they get enough requests, hint, hint (you can vote for your favorite soundtrack requests at http://www.buffy.com/slow/index_stage.html) they would reconsider.
How does someone become a composer?
Here's the short stupid answer. Study, study, study, write, write, move to L.A., set up a home studio, write, write, sell (yourself, that is), sell, sell. Then when you get a gig, you get to write some more and get paid for it. For a much better, smarter (and longer) answer, visit http://www.filmscoremonthly.com/articles1/beacomposer.html.
Do you have any advise for someone who wants to be a composer?
Don't try to copy other composers (though sometimes it's inevitable). Develop your own voice. Be original. And see answer to #5.
Do you have a CD of your music available for purchase?
Unfortunately no. I don't own any of the music I write for Buffy and therefore it would be illegal for me to sell it. It's up to TVT records now...
Thank you, Mr. Beck.
15 September 1998
How did you get involved with the show?
As is usually the case, through a series of recommendations. I worked on a short-lived show last season on ABC called "Spy Game." John McNamara, one of the producers of "Spy Game," recommended me to David Greenwalt, one of this season's "Buffy" producers, who in turn passed my name on to David Solomon, who called me and asked for a demo CD. Joss heard my CD and I was hired to do the premiere.
It turns out they initally hired four of us: I scored the premiere, a second composer did "Some Assembly Required," and Shawn & Sean did the third episode. The producers decided not to stick with composer #2, so now Shawn & Sean and I alternate episodes.
How much time do you have to score an episode?
Usually 6-8 days.
Are two-part episodes more difficult to score than single episodes?
I wouldn't know, I haven't done one yet. ("What's My Line" parts 1 & 2 were scored by Shawn & Sean). But I would imagine it's quite like scoring two one-parters in a row. Probably pretty grueling. I will be scoring a two-hour episode, however. This is the episode that will kick off Buffy's move to Tuesday nights in early '98.
Would you describe how your approach composing and song writing? What elements do you consider when scoring an episode (e.g., timing, theme, mood)?
I watch each episode with the producers, and we talk about where each music cue should start and end, and its role in the scene. Sometimes it's pretty obvious: when a vamp pops up out of nowhere, you can bet I'll put in a big muscial sting to accentuate it, for example.
The stylistic approach on this show, generally speaking, is to score the episodes in a big, symphonic, slightly over-the-top style, remimiscent of classic horror movies. There are some episodes, however, that require some special treatment. On "Inca Mummy Girl," for example, I used wood flutes and tribal drums to evoke the feeling of an ancient, exotic place.
What has been your favorite Buffy episode? Why?
My favorite thus far has been "Ted," which I believe airs this coming Monday. This episode deals with Buffy's feelings towards her Mom's new boyfriend, and (without giving anything away) the story takes a couple of interesting turns. I liked working on this show because there were lots of opportunities for meto score Buffy's emotional turmoil. I love to see Buffy kicking vamp-ass as much as the next guy, but this episode allowed me to do lots of my favorite kind of writing - warm, pretty, melodic, sad, sweet.
Is there anything else you would like the fans of the show's music to know?
Thanks for watching the show, and thanks for being interested in its music. I love this show (I was a fan before I was involved with it) and it's nice to know so many other people feel the same way.
Thank you, Mr. Beck.
5 December 1997