Sunday, June 26, 2011

Art and the Interpretation Thereof (Deux)

Images come from here.
Faithful readers will remember that I once scored a movie. Previously, I wrote about how fun it was and all the things I learned by making it. But now I'd like to write about what I've learned from watching the movie—or rather from watching others watch it.

The first time I watched METRO with people who weren't on the team was at BYU's Final Cut Film Festival. I heard one girl behind me telling her friend how excited she should be to see the last film on the program. That film happened to be none other than our little METRO. I thought that perhaps she was just saying that because Jake and I were sitting right in front of her.

I would be surprised if people liked it. Almost everyone I showed the sketches to said something like, "So there's no dialog? Are there going to be sound effects? No?" For one, I was insecure about the score (and still am). It was, by far, the most derivative thing I've ever written. Anyone who's ever heard one of Satie's "Gymnopedies" should be able to recognize the influence immediately. As the score-writing progressed, I tried to make it more sexy so as to hide my daylight-robbery of Satie's work, but it's still pretty obvious. Also, I never write for piano. I'm a poor pianist, and I feel like solo piano is overdone and kind of boring.

When the first screening of Final Cut was over, the friend of the girl who was pumped to see METRO said, "Oh. I get it. It's artsy. Artsy fartsy." Before that point, I had never considered that there was something to get. I thought it was just a shiny video of a girl chasing a fox. Since then, I've had quite a few people tell me what they think METRO is about.

To my surprise, METRO did very well at the festival. I didn't know that festivals were competitions, so I was shocked when Jake told me we were nominated for something. I assumed he was nominated for some technical award. He assumed I was nominated for the score. The awards ceremony started with the "Audience Favorite" award. This award was based on the number of votes via text message each movie received from the audience. There was no chance METRO got this one. I heard people laughing all the way through the second screening. (METRO, by the way, is not a comedy.) At one point I almost stood up and screamed at them for being such jerks. My vote for Audience Favorite was this fantastic documentary about high school band competitions. So I was more than a little baffled when they announced that Jake Wyatt's METRO had won audience favorite. The only other awards were honorable mention and first through third places. I was doubly surprised again when they announced that METRO had taken first place. (Two films that we were up against had won Emmys. We did not win an Emmy!)

So ultimately, I'm shocked at people's responses to the movie. I liked it, but I didn't think it had any profound meaning. After the awards, we went to a diner up in Orem to celebrate. After we were seated, a group of people came up to us and said, "Are you the guys who made METRO? We were talking about it the whole way up here!" I thought, How?! The thing is four minutes long! I was equally surprised to learn that the making of the movie did have serious philosophical meaning for Jake. I'm glad he didn't tell me about this interpretation until after the movie was finished because I don't particularly like his reading of the movie, and I know it would have changed how I wrote the score. I still don't understand why people were laughing during the screening or why it was dubbed "artsy-fartsy" by the one chick behind us.

This is yet another reason why I think the creator of a work should have no say in its interpretation. I think it's fair to say that the music contributed to the overall effect of METRO, so I was a contributor to the overall message of the movie. But if people take something from the movie that's greater than what I thought I was putting in, good for them. Once the thing is made, I don't really feel like it's my place to trample over anyone else's experience.

This post is largely an excuse to get people excited about the upcoming interwebs debut of METRO. It's still in submission to some other festivals, so we can't publicly post it online just yet, but the day is coming! So as a sampler of what is to come, here's a preview of what the score sounds like. None of this music is actually in the movie, but I recorded this when I was still doing concept work on the score. It's pretty close to how the score ultimately turned out:

METRO Preview by Alfonso X


  1. I can't wait to see METRO again. Everybody did an amazing job with it.

  2. Yeah, everybody (including you!) did do a fantastic job. I think Jake said it'll be release-able sometime in July. I'm pretty stoked.