Lake Placid / 1999 Composed

Lake Placid / 1999
Suite from Lake Placid
# Title Duration
Main Title 2:25
Hector's Here 1:10
Close Call 4:00
Udder Preparations 4:02
Love Games 2:24
Reluctant Passengers 1:47
Morgue / Scary Beaver 4:11
Scouting 2:23
Here He Comes! 4:56
Making a Move / Jack 2:11
Swimming With Croc 3:36
Hector's Mind 2:47
Weird Things / Dinner Time 2:51
Ground Rules 1:44
Trapping Croc / Resolution 5:29
The Lake / Hitching a Ride 1:03

John's Thoughts

After fleeing Los Angeles and searching for a place to record my non-union score, Lake Placid's recording session went without a hitch. The playing was the best the Seattle musicians have done for me, and there was a genuine excitement in the orchestra I've never seen before as they played this narly score. I think after getting over some initial leeriness staring at the kid on the podium, Damon Intrabartolo, their confidence was quickly won over based upon Damon's obvious intimacy and knowledge of the complicated score.

Writing the Score:

It's really hard to compose a score where there's no real main character to follow and develop, which is usually my guide to scoring a film, thus allowing me to tell a story through character development. In this film, the lake and the eventual crocodile are really the main characters. The human characters were really too cardboard to base the score on. I saw them as victims of the lake's thematic textures. I did do a love theme for Kelly (Bridget Fonda) and Jack (Bill Pullman), as well as a pondering and quirky motif that often follows Hector (Oliver Platt) when he talks of crocodile mythology. So I now know what Goldsmith faces when confronting these kinds of non-brainy films. But that made it fun too. Likewise, I was able to do some helicopter and a lot of all-out action/suspense music. The challenge was to keep it interesting and to try and keep the audience on edge even though you hardly ever see the croc until the end. With each action cue I found myself trying to find ways of "one-upping" myself so the score would not become monotonous with each new action sequence. Many of the action cues were exhilarating to record with the orchestra. Two cues were almost six minutes each, and the musicians got right through and wanted more! I'm pleased with some Americana I was able to touch upon, especially in the cue, "Udder Preparations". I scored to an older version of the film, so many cues got very much cut down after I scored it. Those six-minute action scenes especially got cut way down. We spent a good amount of time up at Skywalker Ranch in the miraculous world of Pro-Tools re-editing the score to a whole new shorter and differently structured picture. In the end, you can barely tell. The untruncated score is, of course, on the CD. (I got a whole new stash of Neutragena soaps to last me awhile now too! They stock them in the Ranch hotel rooms in case you have no idea what I'm talking about.)

Steve Miner really let me have a lot of freedom writing the score, and we actually did all the temp scores and test screening with my synthesized renderings of the score. So I welcomed all "temp love!" It was great, as with many of my experiences, to be able to diss the early temp music and score it correctly from the beginning. The only drawback is that you're on the film forever adjusting and rewriting to new cuts or scenes. They kept having to re-shoot that croc!

Trying to save some money, we discovered this little mixdown studio in the basement of a hotel in West Hollywood. (The Sunset Marquis.) It was surprisingly hi-tech. They had the full Euphonics board and surround, the whole bit. Tim brought his speakers in, we ordered room service, and mixed for the next few nights. With the purple suede couch in the back, it was a groovy experience. Very nice people. Apparently a lot of rock stars use that place. I loved it, but went broke on the room service. My people eat way too much. (Kidding everyone.)

The Rumors:

(And you thought the blood was compliments of the crocodile.) There was some "controversy" surrounding our move up to Seattle, and the irony is that the pressure from forces in Los Angeles is what made us have to leave the Los Angeles area. I get the impression that I'm seen by many as some evil serpent for being contracted to deliver a nonunion score to the point that a conference on film music I spoke at recently received protest letters from the AFM that I was speaking! I'm still waiting for the Molotov cocktails. So here's the real story: Lake Placid was a package deal score (meaning I had to finance it) with my contract specifically stating my obligation to deliver a nonunion score for Phoenix Pictures and Fox 2000. I couldn't record union if I wanted to. We were originally set to record in Los Angeles with nonunion players with whom I've worked before, like on H20 and "Fantasy Island". Many are wonderful student musicians. But all hell broke loose when it was discovered we were recording it at Paramount (who gladly booked the space knowing full-well it was a nonunion gig all along.) I discovered that my contractor had a few union players in the group, whom we planned to swap out for more students thus making it fully nonunion when the heat started to emanate. But this apparently caused the air-raid sirens to go off. Ultimately, the pressure from "LA Entities" on Paramount's Stage M became so great that Paramount canceled the sessions just a couple days before my downbeat, unless we "went union." This was an impossible ultimatum to honor, as I barely could afford to record the 65+ minutes of this large-scale score nonunion; plus I was not allowed under my contract to record union. Insidiously, teachers at USC were then contacted by someone to inform their student players that their livelihood in this town would be compromised if they played on Lake Placid. I was shocked. With no place to go, and a huge score to deliver and no musicians, I now had to double my recording budget to go to Seattle at the last minute, and financially lost my shirt on the score. The joke of it all: I was just sent a cancellation notice (a bill) from Paramount Stage M. You gotta laugh.

The only blessing in disguise are those awesome acoustics and the magic sounds of the chapel in Seattle. It's just a great place and friendly environment in which to create. I felt very at home there and the sessions went as smoothly as they did for Snow White.

I hope you enjoy the score. It was a lot of pain and agony!