Original Music in Movies & Tribute to Eric Roberts

by Jimmy on February 17, 2010

Gong and rusted circular saw used by Eric Roberts to make Olfactory Thriller soundtrack

Japanese koto played dischordantly gives you instant creepiness

Glass jar finger percussion - more instruments from Eric Robert's creative sound suite

Music can definitely make or break a movie.  Recently, I watched a bootleg Invictus while I was down in St. Kitts visiting my friend David Molinas.  The movie was forgettable for most of the first half but crossed the line into unbearable after a dramatic Nelson Mandela helicopter ride was accompanied by a song more sappy and nasal than anything Dashboard Confessionals could come out with.  Listen to the song here and read the blogger’s great summation of how the song ruined the movie:  http://incontention.com/?p=18437.  Bring up the movie Invictus with anyone who has seen it and no doubt the first thing you will discuss will be this song and how bad it was.  After some laughing, you will probably move on and not even mention the great acting by Morgan Freeman or Matt Damon or his great line, “THIS IS OUR DESTINY.”  Yes, one minute of a bad song in a movie and you may forget 90 minutes of good acting and storytelling.  Of course, this movie is an egregious example of how music has ruined a movie, but even going the “safe” route and using collectively-accepted songs can get movies into trouble.  These poppy songs can gradually dissipate your fondness for a movie like a long, heavy sigh until you walk out of the theater feeling a deflated, uninspired nothingness.  This is how I felt after Happy Feet.   It was mildly entertaining but got knocked down every time I had to hear another bad rendition of a classic song.  It was just plain lazy having celebrities and pop singers redo classic songs like Prince’s “Kiss” (sung by Nicole Kidman) or Queen’s “Somebody to Love” (sung by Brittany Murphy).  Compare this to what movies like Aladdin and Lion King offered and you can see what it takes to make an awe-inspiring, irrefutable classic.  Good writing, good acting, and good cinematography is pushed over the edge by good original music, until the movie enters the Pantheon of Great Movies.  The best of the Z best.  This hallowed territory is inhabited by the likes of The Graduate, Slumdog Millionaire, and Shaft.  Great original music and great stories.  Naturally, a special spot in this Pantheon of greatness is reserved for Ennio Morricone-composed movies like The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.

However as an amateur movie maker, you can’t always have original music, but what you do have is your own judgment.  Judgment that Clint Eastwood was lacking in Invictus, but Quentin Tarantino utilized perfectly in Pulp Fiction. Like any good car commercial, I always try to pick songs that are semi-obscure that might provoke people to look up the song and listen to it again.  For Olfactory Thriller, I was lucky to have the talented Mr. Eric Roberts to help me out with some original soundtrack.  I met with him one fateful Sunday afternoon to show him clips of the Olfactory Thriller and tried as best as I could to explain to him what I wanted.  More times than not, I just repeated the phrase, “I want suspenseful and creepy.”  As I was explaining what I wanted, Eric would pull out different instruments seemingly from every nook and cranny from his beautifully, chaotically organized apartment/sound studio.  I said I wanted “strange and creepy” and Eric pulled out a Japanese koto and started strumming.  I said I wanted “innocence and creepy” and he started laying down some notes on his keyboard.  I said I wanted “confused and creepy” and he pulled out a blow piano.  This went on for a good hour and I was simply amazed.  Eric not only was a magician with dozens of instruments but was a creator and lover of unique sounds.  He had a circular saw attached to a stand with a gong, which made odd inorganic sounds.  He tells me he likes going out for walks and recording nature sounds.  He tells me he likes my movies!  Now, this is exactly the type of man I want doing the soundtrack for my movies.

After that Sunday session with Eric, I left the apartment feeling reinvigorated and ready to sit down and edit for 20+ hours.  I left Eric a couple of days to put together some good tracks.  Then only three days later, we met like spies in Federal Triangle and he handed me a padded envelope.  I took it and ran away giddy with excitement.  In the envelope was a CD with 10 masterfully composed tracks that fit the movie perfectly.  From here on out, I will try to use at least one originally composed piece of music in my short movies.  Aren’t you excited?  Are you ready for the second coming of Sergio Leone + Ennio Morricone (Yes, I mean Me and Eric Roberts)?  Well, keep watching and listening.  Next movie: Island Dog Robber directed by Jimmy Nguyen, original music by Eric Roberts.

Eric was not pictured in this post because he likes to maintain a low profile.  For now, enjoy his beautifully crafted hands in the pictures above.

You like, you share now

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Thor Music February 18, 2010 at 6:55 pm

Hollywood Bitchslap soundtracks, original score , indie rock FM 32k. Thor Music

2 Rachel February 19, 2010 at 7:57 am

I thought the soundtrack to the Olfactory Thriller was the bee’s knees. Well done, Eric. Well done.

3 Jimmy February 19, 2010 at 11:04 pm

Agreed Turtle Lady.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: