Apt Pupil / 1998 Composed / Edited

Apt Pupil / 1998
Suite from Apt Pupil
# Title Duration
Phoenix Pictures Presents 0:18
Main Titles 3:26
"I'm Busy" 1:03
The Chamber 1:38
The Stories 2:48
The Speech 2:06
"I want to hear about it" 1:54
Playing With Fire 2:04
Cat Bake 1:37
It Never Goes Away 2:14
The Tables Turn 2:45
Rite of Passage 1:51
Curiosity 1:29
An Ailing Heart 2:52
Cleaning Up 1:04
Recognition 2:55
A Question of Power 2:13
Fowl Play 1:09
Extradition 4:38
An Apt Pupil 0:50
End Titles 2:36
Das ist Berlin 1:38

John's Thoughts

The ball and chain awaited me as I finished up Incognito. I walked into my living room (where we set up the editing prison) and two weeks of dailies were piled up, waiting to be touched. Once again, scoring projects passed me by as I edited month after month. A few weeks into the process I was so inundated by footage that I waved a white flag and made the decision for us to change over midstream to digital editing (Avid). So we went through the odd process of conforming scenes I had cut on film into the Avid - the opposite of the usual process.

As I've mentioned in interviews before, the irony is that by the time I was ready to write the score (my incentive for editing the film) it was the last thing in the world I wanted to do! I was exhausted and completely clueless as to what I would write. Also nothing I temped it with really worked, as it was such a strange film that needed something between 1941 and 2001. One night I awoke, clicked on the tape recorder next to my bed and whistled a crude version of the theme-to-be. I then did a synth mockup based upon this theme and what I had remembered in my head to be the general events of the title sequence I had designed. Miraculously, when I digitized the cue and laid it up against the picture, it was as if I had scored to picture. Even a major hit I wrote (going into the heavier Germanic section) was right in sync with the book opening revealing holocaust pictures. I got a break! Once the theme was finally approved (with my pleading that it was really what the picture needed), I got back my enthusiasm and imagination to write the rest of the score.

After we were done recording the score, it was time to record the "choral" overdub. There's a scene at the end of the film where protesters are screaming outside the hospital when Dussander is having a heart-attack. When editing the scene my idea was to have the screams of "extradite" in essence score the heart-attack sequence. But there needed to be additional score as well. The problem was that there was a train wreck of sounds and score conflicting one another. So I wrote the music to integrate a choral group basically taking over the screams of "extradition" so that they would become one with the score. This made the sequence even more eerie and militaristic. But we had no choir at the session. So the "extradition choir" is me, Tim Boyle, my music editor, a couple producers and friends screaming to the click track and playback of the orchestral section we had recorded. It was pretty hilarious, and that's why I saved it to the very end.

Apt Pupil was an extremely difficult film to pull off, comprising over a year of my life. Like Incognito, Snow White and Goodbye, Lover, it is a score I worked extremely hard on, trying to be orchestrally innovative; and yet I suspect it will never be as recognized at it could have been simply because the film fell into oblivion quickly. This is why I take sleeping pills often.

Tidbits: I wrote dialog and read the off-screen teacher's voice in the opening of Apt Pupil and it almost got put into the film, until at the last moment, we had Chris McQuarrie read it instead. So I lost that cameo. I also played a music teacher in the film conducting the high school band in the graduation sequence. But I cut myself out because the scene was superfluous. I made it into the blooper reel! I looked good in that suit too. One other Ottman cameo did make it in the film, however. The doctor running down the hall and attending to Ian McKellen is my mother. She weaseled her way onto the set by becoming medical consultant for the film. She then drove Bryan so crazy about the "doctor" in the film not being realistic, Bryan said the magic words: "Why don't you just do it?" So Mary Ottman, the medical consultant in the film is also the doctor; this helped helped bring the number of times "Ottman" appears in the film to an obnoxious six :) As is traditional in our films, Bryan's parents are also in the film. His father and step-mom are the hospital administrators, and the secretary who tells Todd to go see Mr. French is his mother, who was upgraded to scripted lines this time around: In Suspects, she played a nurse at the nurse's station who simply looks up when she is asked for a fax machine.