DATE NIGHT (2021 OIF Escape Challenge)
'DATE NIGHT' is the first production I've worked on with the Orlando Independent Filmmakers market and I couldn't be more excited to be given the opportunity! This seasons theme was really about "escape." With everything going on in 2020, the intention was to create media that reflects us today but allows us to laugh, have fun, smile, or simply to 'escape' for a bit.
With 'DATE NIGHT,' the story interestingly enough is a true one taking place during the COVID-19 lockdown. A married couple, trying to keep things interesting, have decided to have their date night's at home but with an added twist: the wife dresses up, assuming a new character each time! This week, however, she takes it to a new and pretty hilarious level!
Making a movie is always a process but add onto it the issues of keeping people safe from the pandemic and now you can begin to imagine what filming in this environment would be like. Our first and main production meeting was over zoom, on the day of the shoot everyone wore masks and had their temperatures checked, and we tried to keep distance generally and be mindful of our surroundings when needing to eat/drink. I've been on some sets in many other capacities before, but this was the first time I'd been on a set like this and I was honestly so glad to have been invited to be there and get to help / see the set.
This was my first time working with the director and producer Danielle Bowman, who was honestly amazing! I found myself in our talks really clicking with how she worked and her mindset! One of the greatest things was being able to discuss the music ideas. I felt like through our discussions I really understood the goal and intentions of the project and also that my ideas were heard. While the story IS a comedy, it's also the two actors portraying themselves based on their real story! This was in and of itself amazing but it also really cemented in my mind that the comedy needed to be the situation. We were laughing at what was happening, but we weren't making fun of the people. Sounds we discussed were classic orchestral pizzicato & staccato to add energy and levity, winds and delicate strings to add tenderness, jazz to add sexiness, and full orchestral flavor for the funniest sequence in the story!
In the end, I scored almost the entire short end to end. I began in chronological order, working with the temp cut of the opening, getting the 'familial' and 'home' sound right, along with hinting at a sort of relationship melody.
Both of these would be important to show an arc from the opening, to the chaotic middle, and back to 'normalcy' of 'home' at the end all while having a familiar melodic idea thread through the score.
With the 'Searching' sequence, I decided to really push the energy of the score to keep it reverent but also energetic and fun! The next scene begins with source music from the TV. This had been somewhat of a joke as to what it would end up being in the end (a nature documentary perhaps??). Due to how much of the sequence was scored, only a small fragment of music was required for what seemed to me to play as a credits playoff of some sitcom. We're introduced to a jazz idea for the character of the night, 'Lola,' and then as Lola arrives the music goes full 60's jazz, horn blasts and all! Perhaps one of the funnest moments was this next sequence! As things begin to get out of hand, the music builds into a frenzy. I chose in this sequence to create a new melodic idea and to use as a sort of set piece to open and eventually end the sequence, allowing the incidents that happen during it to interrupt the idea and take over. One of the best moments in this sequence is evocative somewhat of Bernard Herrmann. In an attempt to help, one of the characters holds up a--shall we say--'dangerous' item. We had discussed allowing the score to wink and nod to horror just for a moment, so I chose to evoke two key sounds from "Psycho." After all this and with the madness returning to hopefulness, we return to a sense of familial normalcy only to have a surprise twist of a certain character returning, albeit unexpectedly.
One of the exciting parts of doing a short film challenge was in the end we got to watch all the short films on the big screen! The big screening was held at the AMC at Disney Springs. I often had to stop myself and kinda take in that I was sitting in the audience with other talented creators, meeting fellow creators, and watching all these short films on the big screen including my own. It was the first time I had ever been to a premier of one of my own projects like this and there's something really gratifying about hearing your music playing and seeing the short you worked on projected on the screen. There is definitely something electric about getting to hear the audience laugh and experience it 'new' with them and see how they respond to the film. The goal is always to add joy and excitement and fun while leaving them thinking and talking about the work and I feel the short did just that! In the end, this was an amazing, fun, brilliant opportunity and I am so glad I got to work on it!