Journey to the center of the Earth – Interview with Andrew Lockington

So far Canadian composer Andrew Lockington has been involved in low-budget movies and was assistant and orchestrator on some Mychael and Jeff Danna scores. However in 2008 two blockbusters put him into focus. We asked him about these movies, especially the 3D-adventure Journey to the Center of the Earth which can be seen in the Hungarian theaters from September.

Your latest project was Journey to the Center of the Earth, which is your first high-budget production, how did you get this job?

I was recommended for the job by Bob Bowen, the VP of Music at Newline. He sent some of my music to Lindsay Fellows who was the music supervisor on the film. Lindsay set up a meeting between me and the director and the producer and I was hired.

Do you know the original version of this film? Did you get any inspiration from Bernard Herrmann's score?

I saw the original version of the film many many years ago. I thought about watching it again once I was hired but made a conscious choice not to. This isn't really a remake of the original but a different take on the film. I did however purchase an original first edition copy of the book (en francais) and studied the book. I did it for two reasons....the first was to get to know the original photos and text because an old book actually plays a pretty significant role in the film. The second reason was to re-discover the story through the mind of a reader in the mid 19th century. Despite the fact that the film is completely cutting edge in regards to the 3D technology, the story really isn't cutting edge. It's about 3 human beings battling a world within our own that avoided being influenced by technology. They survive using nothing more than the tools that would have existed in Jules Verne's times. Often when I'm working on a film I try to really immerse myself in the culture of that film, in this case it was more about immersing myself in a different time in history.

This film is also a debut for the director Eric Brevig, who is a visual effect supervisor mostly. How was the work with him? Did he have straight ideas, or you had more freedom for compose?

He was a very valuable collaborator. He is a real storyteller by nature and we completely connected in our approach. He came to me talking about themes and melodies and with a pretty clear idea of how he wanted to feel when he heard the score. That said, he gave me complete creative freedom in arriving there. I was very impressed at his understanding of music in film, and I think we both learned a lot from the experience.

What kind of pressure does a composer have when working a blockbuster like this?

I think the biggest pressure is the pressure a composer puts on themselves. I'm always waking up in the middle of the night and doing 2 or 3 hours of work because I find myself thinking "I could do those 8 bars a bit better" and I never want to find myself sitting with an orchestra on the day having not done my absolute best. Despite the money, the reputations and the big studio bosses, I still think the most pressure comes from what I put on myself.

When did you start composing? Did it have a hard deadline? How much music did you write and how many days did you have to record it?

It did have a hard deadline, as most films these days do. I was fortunate to get hired relatively early on in the editing process, so I was able to spend a few months concentrating on writing themes and exploring different musical approaches with Eric.

What were the recording sessions like? How much music did you write and how many days did you have to record it?

There was a lot of music. In the end I think it was close to 93 minutes. We recorded it over 6 days in London at Air Studios, though I did a few days of pre-records in Toronto before going to London. The recording sessions were incredibly exciting and incredibly stressful. We had a lot of music to record and there weren't really any cues that were easy to play. The musicians really rose to the challenge though, and absolutely gave superb performances. It's quite astonishing that a composer can write something so difficult and players can learn it and perform the keeper take in less than 20 minutes.

Is there a difference between scoring a normal and a 3D-production? Did you have any special instruction about the music?

Only that it was very helpful to view the film in 3-D. It definitely influenced how I scored the film. There were elements of the visuals that have a greater impact in 3D than they do in 2D and thus call for more musical acknowledgement at times.

Is there any action or adventure score that you like the most?

Hmm... that's a funny question. You know, ironically, when I watch a film for pleasure I'm actually able to just enjoy the movie as a whole. I don't find myself disecting the editing or the music or the score, even thought that's what I do for a living. I think there are some really great scores out there in this genre, but none that I think are a major influence on me.

You've been working on comedies and dramas as well as action or horror productions. Which genre is the most preferred for you?

I really prefer the diversity of working on different films each time. I like the process of figuring out how to do something I've never done. So if I'm scoring another action adventure film, I'm always looking for a unique approach that will make it new and exciting for me to work on it.

Your next project will be City of Ember, how did you get this one? 

This came about after some of the film makers involved heard the score to Journey to the Center of the Earth. I've actually just finished mixing that score and I am on my way to Los Angeles tomorrow for the film playback and notes.

What kind of score will you compose?

It's an orchestral score with choir. The choir plays a larger role than it did on Journey. I've also worked in some significant strange musical sounds that people can only describe as whale music. Rhythmically, this score gets its drive from an incredibly large cello and bass section and some unique moog rhythms that are definitely not electronica, but definitely give a modern day feel to the score. It's a very different score than Journey... but it's a very different film as well. It was a real pleasure to have the opportunity to work on another great big budget story so soon after Journey. It's a very exciting and emotional film and I encourage everyone to go see it this fall.

To know more about Andrew Lockington's work, please visit the composer's official website.


Special thanks to Melissa McNeil
October 04th, 2008  

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