Hide and Seek / 2005 Composed

Hide and Seek / 2005
Suite from Hide and Seek
# Title Duration
Leaving the City (Main Title) 2:07
Exploring 2:26
What Did You Do? 4:15
Can You See Now? 2:32
Toy Shrine 1:48
The Playground 1:47
Getting Away 2:46
Doll Head 2:46
Playing With Charlie 3:36
Beyond Therapty 1:46
Snooping 2:08
Kitty Bath 2:03
Marco Polo 2:06
The Cave 2:13
Hide and Seek* (Emily's Theme) 4:40
Hide and Seek** 4:01

John's Thoughts

Ya Never Know

Things have a funny way of happening. Over a year ago I was sent the script to Hide and Seek. I remember how the story started conjuring up musical imagery for me as early as the first few pages. The director, John Polson, was doing pre-production in New York. It's always great to find an excuse to go there, so I flew out to meet him. A blizzard attacked the city just after I arrived, but I was able to meet him for breakfast the next morning. John's friendliness is matched equally by his intensity - extremely focused. Well, we had a good meeting. Weeks went by and a couple months later I learned I didn't get the job. I'm not sure what I said wrong! You can't get them all, I remembered.

Cut to a year or so later, I was on a flight back from Seattle just after having recorded Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, and my conductor happened to mention in passing Hide and Seek. I told him how I had met on the project a long time ago and wondered how it had gone. Who would have imagined that the very next morning I got a call from my agent that there was a scheduling conflict with its composer, and I should go meet on the project. It was a little daunting being that Chris Young had been on the project for awhile and had written a couple mock-ups to picture. UGH! Now I had to write a theme to make everyone forget what they had gotten used to. After I gave my take on the film, I got hired. I went home, had my usual anxiety attack, gathered myself and dove in to start writing. I'm sure John had trepidation about losing a good theme they had temped in for so long. So I had a lot to prove - and a lot to write in a relatively short amount of time.

Pick a Theme …

After my first prototype of the theme, I was asked if I could I write a few more to chose from. Not exactly music to a composer's ears. But it's always very important that a theme be embraced - especially by a passionate director. So over one weekend I wrote three more main themes to the opening title sequence. I was using a little girl's voice as the driving force in all these versions, so I had my colleague, Debbie Lurie, sing la la's for my mock-ups of the cues after I feverishly wrote all the orchestral parts. (Debbie is my psycho/little girl voice when I'm in need of that.) The following Monday, John, Barry Josephson (producer), editor Jeff Ford, and the Fox music execs, Robert Kraft and Mike Knobloch squeezed into my little studio. I unveiled all four themes to picture. There was a little something I liked in all of them - and they too. But it seemed to be unanimous that theme number two was basically the winner. Whew.

My idea behind all the versions was to somehow suggest many conflicting feelings simultaneously -- There had to have a sense of sadness (Emily in the film has lost her mother to suicide), childlike innocence (she's a little girl!), hope (she's driving with her father to start a new life in another town), psychosis (is she becoming a bad seed from her trauma?), and foreboding (this is going to be a thriller and we should feel a little on edge) all in one. I'm usually one to take on these schizophrenic challenges in the music I write, but this one was particularly tough. Once we were all on the same page I was then able to sink my teeth into the theme and use it as my inspiration for the score. I then went back (as the opening titles come late in the film) and adapted a "happier" version of the theme for Emily when her life was normal.

In that meeting Robert Kraft started humming to theme #2 while his eyes were showing gears turning inside. He mentioned that it was very amenable to lyrics using the words, "Hide and Seek" to build upon a sort of nursery rhyme approach - perhaps to be used in the end titles in place of the la la's. Coming from him, this was very flattering, and Robert began working on writing a sort of poem to be sung with the theme. It gave the melody a real classic feel. To make another very long story short, only a portion of his lyrics were used in the end titles, but it's on the CD for its entirety. Another cohort of mine, Lior Rosner, produced a contemporary version adapting the lyrics to possibly be used in the end titles. But instead it was decided to keep the music more score-orientated for the end titles. This version too can be heard on the CD as the last cue, "Hide and Seek."

Charlie Gets Version 3

The other primary theme in the film was for the character of Charlie: Emily's imaginary friend - or is he? His theme too had to be an extension of her playful inner child. But as things begin to get a little strange, his theme also had to suggest that this playfulness may be in fact malevolent. I'd been fond of my third version of the opening titles, and was hoping I'd be able to salvage it in some way. That version always had Charlie in mind as a character the story was going to hone in on. So what better than to resurrect this as his theme? Charlie's music takes on many incarnations throughout the film. When Emily plays, (as in the cue, "Exploring") his theme is more lyrical as she discovers a special place in the woods. Later, when she discusses Charlie with her father (DeNiro), Charlie's theme is more fragmented, played in simple violin harmonics with unsettling bending celli and bass underneath. In the cue "Hide and Seek", Emily looks for Charlie in the house. By this time in the film, the audience is already expecting something bad to happen. So rather than play right into expectations with overly "creepy" music, I used Charlie's haunting, yet mischievous melody as she looks around. This made the scene even more unsettling than overtly sinister music could. The biggest challenge in Hide and Seek was to keep the story engaging, as much of it concerns a character who is only talked about and never seen. This provided a challenge for both the filmmakers and me to keep people watching and listening. I wanted the audience to feel Charlie was actually there by keeping him alive with the music - much in the way I had to make the audience feel that way about another unseen character seen - Keyser Soze.

Restraining the Faders

The general concept for Hide and Seek was to build the score from a largely subliminal feel, to a score that blossomed sinisterly with the film itself. So the first half of the film (with a couple exceptions) the score is often an interplay with sound design elements and weird synth pads that I wrote to accompany the delicate cues. The fine line again was not being too subtle as to be too "drone-like" for the audience. A harp motif (the underpinning of Emily's theme) often breaks things up in the first half of the film, acting throughout the story as a tool for bringing out what may be a psychosis in Emily. But by being slightly melancholy, you're never supposed to be quite sure what side of Emily it's telling you about.

One of my favorite cues ("Can You See Now?") is a revelation moment in the film where I was able to let my hair down and write something that communicated to the audience that the pieces were coming together. After a couple versions, the final one became a great moment in the score - even more aggressive than I had originally planned. Hey, AND it was mixed well on the dub stage by amazing mixer Paul Massey. What more could I ask for?!