Garth Stevenson - Evens the Score on "Them That Follow"
Sundance Film Festival may have ended, however we are still living for all of the amazing films! This year there was definitely a shift in previous under represented markets as well as new and thrilling items being displayed on screen. When it comes to watching a film, it isn’t entirely about what is being displayed on screen. A HUGE, and compelling, part of a film is the cinematic score and the story the music tells. We got the chance to speak with Garth Stevenson of Them That Follow and his thoughts on working with the film ( that Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions has picked up all international rights to the film!)
The below has been edited for continuity purposes.
Identify LA: What prompted you to work with this film?
Garth Stevenson: The script was incredibly strong and captivating. Once I started reading it I couldn’t put it down. Then I had a creative call with Dan and Britt, who wrote and directed Them That Follow, and they brought me even deeper into the story and characters. My gut told me it would be an exceptional collaboration and that it was.
IDLA: How do you grasp the attention of the audience with music, in terms of this film?
GS: One of my intentions with Them That Follow was to create a unique group of sounds and instruments that truly felt germane to the film. For percussion, I recorded three different sizes of real rattlesnake rattles, the larger the rattle the lower the pitch. Other percussion included metal shelving, a collection of rusted steal scrap metal, a large triangle, and tambourines.
It was also very important to me to find the right sound to represent the snakes. A few years ago I found twenty wooden organ pipes on craigslist. A church was being torn down and one of the construction workers took the hundred-year-old pipes to sell as lumber. I bought them because I hated the idea of these instruments being chopped up to fix a shed and I knew there would be some use for them down the road. They require way more air than my lungs can supply so I used an air compressor to create the fundamental tones. The rumble of the compressor was not an issue because it was 100 feet away from the studio, and the hiss of the compressed air coming out of the hose was perfect for the hissing snake sound. So to answer your question, I am hopeful the days I spent blasting compressed air through pipes and practicing my rattle technique will grasp the attention of the audience without distracting them from the narrative.
IDLA: Do you find it challenging to connect with the audience through music?
SM: I have been a touring musician for the past twenty years and love the feeling of connecting with audiences in the moment. There is a feeling of sensitivity, intimacy and the unknown that is exchanged. In film scoring, I draw on those experiences of live performance to connect intimately with the characters on screen when I’m writing and recording. That feeling translates to the audience when they watch the film and offers a form of connection between us.
IDLA: In your opinion, does music play a large role of the success of the film? If so, please elaborate.
GS: I think the score to Them That Follow helps bring Britt and Dan’s story to life and yes, could help with the success of the film. That said, the score is only one piece of the puzzle and is no more important than the other elements like the incredible directing, producing, acting, editing, cinematography, costume design, set design, art direction, and sound.