This weekend Winston-Salem's RiverRun International Film Festival will feature something unusual. The Oscar-winning 2007 Coen brothers movie “No Country For Old Men” will be accompanied by a brand new film score. Movies and music is nothing new, but an original, world-premiere score performed live by local guitarist Eddie Garcia is. And full disclosure - the nationally recognized artist known as 1970s Film Stock also happens to be a reporter for WFDD. He spoke about the process of writing for film with David Ford.
On the process of film scoring:
I did what's called 'spotting the film' first, and that's where you go through the whole movie, make marks for where your music cues might potentially be and start getting ideas that way — kind of was like laying out the template as I was watching the film. So, then when I took that and sat down with my guitar, I knew where I was going to potentially be moving music in and out of [the film]. And then after that it really began with finding the first chord and the first set of notes. And it was just C sharp minor with a low G sharp drone.
There is a lot of silence in this film. Was approaching that huge canvas intimidating?
Yeah a little bit. And as I got into it it turned out being a little more intimidating than I thought it was. But that being said, I realized that I still needed to utilize that silence. Although what I'm doing is reworking, I feel, how the audience reacts to the movie — because I'm covering up a lot of that silence with new music — I realize that there's still some scenes that it's essential for. So, after I'd kind of gone through my initial writing process I then started editing and trying to find ways to play less — kind of a less is more approach — realizing that those silences and the stark contrast between the loud music would help to amplify some of that tension and pull back a little bit of what the film had initially. ... I feel like the first twenty minutes of the film sort of lays out the template for what the rest of the film is going to be like. So that's why I really worked on a lot in the beginning. I was like once I get that and get the kind of the variety of moods then it should be smoother sailing after that.
Did you go into this with any set ideas in terms of the musical style you'd be using?
I went into this just thinking, 'Well, I'll just do my thing. I'll just do what I do.' I use a lot of effects. I use a lot of kind of sparkling, twinkling, delayed sounds, atmospheric stuff, but I soon found out that I needed to pull a lot of that back. So, I sort of surprised myself and a lot of it became more like simply a guitar and reverb or a guitar and tremolo. I had to get the sounds that worked with what was happening visually on the screen.
What would be the biggest compliment you could get from the Coen brothers after seeing and hearing your work on their film?
'Oh hey, you didn't ruin our movie. Great job.' [laughs]