Composing evil to fit the fear.
Harry Manfredini is one of the most accomplished film composers in the horror genre and we had the opportunity to spend some time with him!
Amy Humphries/ Terror Time: Harry, welcome and thank you so much but you know I dive right in. FRIDAY THE 13TH franchise at the helm of what you're best known for, how did your approach to composing the music for the films evolve with each installment?
Harry Manfredini: (laughs) Thank you Amy! Actually this was easier than one would think. I always tried to keep the overall sound of the score. The harmonic structures and use of the materials. So the basic building blocks of the score were pretty much set each film. As the film changed, and each has its own special scenes, and characters, emotions, and situations… That is where I approached the material in a different way. Fortunately, these films were spaced out in time and between the films, I would have purchased a new piece of equipment, and discovered some new samples or sounds. These were always extremely useful…in that I would hear this new sound, and mentally find a place where that particular sound could be effective. So each has its own set of instrumental colors, but still uses the original harmonic and linear material. Obviously, plot and character generated all sorts of other materials. The jumping from character to character in part 9, the futuristic world of x, the strangely over the top of part 5, the gothic/humor of part three. Each film offered something new to me, so as I said, it was easier than you might think
TT: I am in awe of the breakdown you did! You’re right. One would assume it would’ve been harder! From SWAMP THING to the HOUSE movies and THE WISHMASTER, you’ve worked on so many horror film music compositions, that are considered timeless classics today, what are a few of your personal favorites and why?
HM: I try to find something in every film I do, that makes me excited, or offers a challenge, or touches me in a certain way that I really would have a hard time picking favorites.. there are many.. SWAMP THING was a chance to work with Wes Craven, and the score was in many ways intended to be a more classic traditional score, ala Alfred Newman, or Corngold, but on a very tiny budget. So fun and challenging. HOUSE 1 and 2 were a joy. How often do you get to write music for a baby pteradactyl, a worm dog, a skeletal cowboy, aztec indians, a flying dingbat, a clown like witch..you can’t beat that. WISHMASTER offered a chance to get ethnic in a horror style, as well as mixing in a new age psychological theme, and scoring the most memorable party ever… with a piano exploding.. So you see there are many. I did a film called A GUN, A CAR, A BLONDE. a film noir.. very small score, jazzy and dark. I got to break out the sax and play. I have many favorites all for different reasons.
TT: Truly fascinating! But you also have done scoring for several indie horror films, what is it like doing both indie and big budget productions?
HM: I am a part owner of a company called BIG SCORE MUSIC.. and it is a music library especially designed for the film and television markets. So, we have about one hundred composers and music of every type you can imagine. These films, and others are really scored by the library. So in reality I did not score these. Probably a mix of a number of composers. However, that being said, I do score a lot of indie horror films on my own. I am often asked, and if I see the film and enjoy it, I go for it. Usually helping out the filmmaker. Not really worrying about the size of the budget. My recent scores of this type are MODEL HUNGER ,the first directorial effort from the wonderful Debbie Rochon. A very cool picture. A young couple Chris and Meredith Majors, did a film called LAKE EERIE, which I scored for them. Very nice. I just finished a picture called NEEDLESTICK, a mad research doctor, played by Lance Henrickson. Very well done. As far as creative passion.. it is a very high level in these pictures. It is one of the reasons that I love to do these. I feel that drive and courage, the new, and that first time I scored a film. You can't buy that kind of feeling. So I love doing them. I also do some creative short films for young filmmakers, I think of them as Scorsese in the bud. Patrick Rea, Jeremiah Kipp are two of my favorites. Check them out.. you will love their work.
TT: Couldn’t agree more! I think the world of Jeremiah and Patrick!!! Folks, these guys are amazing! In honor of the day, are you doing any special projects for the franchise?
HM: well matter of fact, I am! I am currently working on the Friday the 13th game.
TT: NICE! Harry, this has been fun! We must do it again. Thank you!
HM: Thank you so much for the questions and for asking me to be a part of your day!