Turned on to Torah
Here are excerpts from Sunday's New York Times magazine article:
The subject of the day is conversion: ''One of Judaism's greatest strengths is that unlike other world religions, we have not forced ourselves on others. But this reluctance to embrace conversion is also one of our greatest weaknesses. Much of the Gentile world assumes that we Jews are a closed group and that Judaism is a closed club, enterable only by birth. Let me suggest to you a different paradigm for the 21st century, a model in which Judaism competes in the marketplace of ideas. The time has come for Judaism to be open to others, to seek honest and dedicated converts to our religion.''
What drives Rabbi Lebow, and exercises much of the Jewish leadership in this country, is a demographic urgency. In the 1930's, Jews accounted for 3.7 percent of the American population; today the number is about 2 percent and dropping. And when you measure adults who consider themselves Jewish by religion, as opposed to by birth, the number drops to 1.3 percent. Add to this the fact that since 1985 more than half of all Jews who married have married someone who is not Jewish, and that the majority of these end up raising children who don't practice the faith, and you face the specter of what Alan Dershowitz calls, in the title of a recent book, the vanishing American Jew. Or, as Rabbi Lebow put it to his congregation recently, ''We Jews are in danger of making ourselves historically irrelevant if we refuse to admit new people into our midst.''
Many of the new people they are admitting are Christians. Egon Mayer, director of the Center for Jewish Studies at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York and a sociologist of American Judaism, estimates that in recent years between 4,000 and 5,000 people have converted to Judaism annually in this country and that there are now about 200,000 ''Jews by choice,'' as many like to be called. Just as noteworthy is who is converting.
Luke Gets Mail
James DiGiorgio writes: Lukey, I did some research for you. You should send these reminders to the jews who shun you.
There is a special mitzva to love and to be kind to converts even more than ordinary Jews, like it says in the Torah, Devarim 10:19, "You shall love the convert, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt." (This is saying that, since we were once strangers in Egypt, we should understand how difficult it is for someone to adjust to a new world and we should be kind to him.) The Torah also has a special mitzva not to be unkind to a convert in Shemos [Exodus] 22:20, "Do not hurt the feelings of a convert or oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt." and also in Shemos 23:9, "Do not oppress a convert, you know how it feels to be a stranger because you were strangers in the land of Egypt."
And in VaYikra [Leviticus] 19:33-34, "When a convert comes to live in your land, do not hurt his feelings. The convert should be to you exactly like a born Jew and you shall love him like yourself, for you were strangers in Egypt - I am HaShem, your God."
Ian writes: Hi Luke, I've recently re-found you in your new site after reluctantly leaving your old site when you sold it. Reading your most recent editions makes me think that you're pretty interesting in your porn-free garb as well, though your site still lacks the 'bite' of the old one, presumably because of a lack of 'Marc-Wallice-type' revelations so far. I wonder why. The world of film, which you mostly seem to cover, seems to cry out for a new Kenneth Anger. Perhaps you could dig the dirt on the Oscars, as you did on the AVN awards - or would that be too dangerous for the site?
I've started to read the archive of your present site - to get me up to speed on what has been going through your head since August last year. I came across the following (to me) startling quote: "Luke says: I'm a harsh unrelenting Zionist even to the point where I would not mind Israel's Arab residents being expelled from Israel. I don't think multi-culturalism works ..." You may be right that multiculturalism gives rise to problems, but if societies don't manage to live with it they'll be destroyed, sure as eggs is eggs. Your view seems to be shared by a large number of Jews in Israel at the present, including the present (and, hopefully, very temporary Prime Minister) Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon.
I suspect that the world's opinion of Israel has greatly worsened since he took over responsibility, and instituted his 'two eyes for an eye, a jaw for a tooth' policy against the Palestinians. I live in England, and I rarely hear a good word for Israel nowadays. Even when I attended a meeting largely attended by Quakers, a cloud seemed to descend when Israel was discussed, and no one spoke up for it in the present conflict. Of course the suicide bombers are terrorists, and are strongly supported by most of the Palestinian population. But they are also freedom fighters, since Israel is occupying land declared to be Palestinian by a United Nations resolution, studiously ignored by the Israeli government. How would you expect Palestinians to behave in such circumstances. Yes, multiculturalism is a problem in Israel/Palestine. The Palestinians doubtless feel that too. Can't you see that Hitler also did?
Jack writes: i know of catherine seipp through the laexaminer website, mostly ... that group of writers is really on the bubble with something. i'm sure you know they're longing to start up their own newspaper or magazine. ken layne, in particular, has done a splendid job of asserting himself as a personality online ... good people for you to know, and for them to know you, i'd guess ... you need to get back to consistent postings and thoughts and news items about yourself, weblog style. don't make excuses, just do it.
Chaim Amalek vs Emmanuelle Richard
Amalek18: You have not done much to motivate me of late. You disappoint me.
Luzdedos1: I talked to Emmanuelle Richard last night. She said she stopped returning your emails because she found them rude and abrasive.
Luzdedos1: Are you unable to take responsibility that you might have an issue to deal with here, Mr Amalek?
From last July, 2001:
Chaim writes: Dear Emmanuelle: I recently learned that, due to the awesome fertility of their women and immigration, Muslims will outnumber you French people in your own country in just a few generations. Already the number of French attending church on Sundays is dwarfed by the number of Muslims in mosque. Do you look upon these developments with joy or with foreboding?
Emmanuel replies: Dear Chaim, I thought you didn't exist but Luke insisted you do! All right. Thanks for your concern. I don't worry about the growing proportion of Muslims (your mean, immigrants from North Africa?) in France, on the contrary. Most of them are French or about to become French, not fanatically religious and many of them are not only super smart, but very charming. Especially the girls. Really bright and funny. As long as the guys are not macho pigs and the women are not forced to wear a veil, stay at home and cook for hours in small flats, it's great. Some of them go to the dogs, like this not very bright French-Moroccan kid who followed a cousin and decided to become a terrorist. This lamo tried to force his own liberated, single mother, to wear a veil before leaving France for terrorist training camp. I'm much less tolerant than most Americans for that: No veil in public schools for instance. This is bad, I know. The veil just revolts me. Do you think Luke was right to sell his site?
Chaim replies: Dear Emmanuelle: Every year France become more Islamic, both through the immigration of muslims from Africa and the superior birth rates of the arabs already in France. Moreover, these people maintain their adherence to Islam far more strongly than French Catholics do to the Church. At some point, what sociologists term a "tipping point" will be reached, and France will cease to be French. Consider all the rights and joys you know in being French. Why do you not want your children and grandchildren to know the same? Why are the French willing to toss aside their ancient culture for that of the Chador and Burkha?
Regarding your question concerning Luke, here is what I find to be more interesting. Liberal Europeans (like you) are more comfortable discussing pornography (which, in the end, counts for as little as sperm that ends up on a tissue instead of inside a woman) than immigration. You leave it to the far right, when the issue belongs to all the men and women of the West. Luke's sale of his site is of no consequence. Pornography exists to help men masturbate, and thus also is of little consequence. But demography is destiny, and immigration of third world peoples into the West is of profound importance. You should spend less time thinking about Luke's website and more time thinking about whether France is worth keeping French.
Producer David Lancaster
Born December 29, 1952, movie producer David Lancaster grew up in Texas, graduating around 1975 with a degree in Drama from Southern Methodist University in Dallas.
"I went to the Actor's Theatre in Louisville, which at the time was a hotbed of new plays," Lancaster told me at his office near Studio City, March 13, 2002. "Jon Jory had engineered an incredible theatre there that attracted people from around the world. Louisville doesn't have the international prominence it once had. Unfortunately, plays have lost a lot of the impact they had 15 years ago.
"I worked as an actor for a few years. I got my Equity card [signifies membership in the stage actor's union]. I did television and got my SAG card. I worked on a TV soap opera and I soon realized that it was the most boring thing in the world and there was no way I was going to be able to sit for it. Then I worked as a stockbroker. I met these guys who I encouraged to invest in plays I produced. My first movies all came from plays. My first movie was 1985's The Laundromat for HBO. Marsha Norman wrote the play and Robert Altman directed. Carol Burnett and Amy Madigan starred."
Luke: "What was it like working with Bob Altman?"
David: "It was great. He was just licking his chops over some punk producer. He put me in the movie so I couldn't do anything. I played the attendant in a laundromat. I was in about half the shots. And I was supposed to be asleep the whole time so he could do what he wanted to. He completely immobilized me. And all the time he's telling me, 'You're doing a great job.'
"I've learned that plays don't translate well to film. There are not enough fancy camera moves in the world to make theatre interesting film. 'Night Mother is phenomenally moving in the theatre and yet on film it loses its immediacy.
"I like story driven pictures as opposed to high concept Armageddon type films. The films I want to make are not necessarily the type of films that studios want to make. As wonderful as LA Confidential was, it didn't make a whole lot of money."
Luke: "You auditioned Heather Graham for the lead role in 1993's Quick and instead went with Teri Polo. What do you remember about Heather Graham?"
David laughs. "What do you think you'd remember about Heather Graham?"
Luke: "Her bright sparkly personality."
David: "Something like that. Actually, she was really good. I liked her a lot."
Luke: "Was she really hot looking?"
David: "Yes. I thought she was great. It was between her and Teri. We fought about it and finally went with Teri. I did want Heather.
"It's a B movie. The way I figured out how to get it financed was to put Jeff Fahey, Tia Carrera and Robert Davi in the bad guy roles. And then cast the two leads with unknowns - Teri Polo and Martin Donovan - who I knew were great actors. That way I could come up with a good movie without having to cast the usual names you have to have to finance a movie. I think it is some of Teri's best work though she probably wishes she'd never done it because it was such a B movie."
Luke: "Tell me about 1993's Scam."
David: "I learned another producer lesson. Always read the first ten pages of a script. It was a blind submission. It sat in a pile for weeks. One day I determined I'd read ten pages in every script and then throw them away. I loved the Scam script and called the writer immediately. I took the project to Viacom and they bought it. Six months later, we were in production. Christopher Walken and Lorraine Bracco starred.
"I have lots of crazy stories about Lorraine Bracco. She was with Edward James Almos and was going through a divorce with Harvey Keitel. And it just so happened that there was a scandal about Eddie and one of Lorraine's daughters... Do you remember that? That happened in Jamaica on my set. I didn't realize it was going on. I knew the little girl. She was cute. Then Harvey filed suit and it turned into a mess."
[In his divorce from Lorraine, Harvey Keitel accused Almos of having sex with one of Lorraine's underage daughters.]
David: "It was a tough shoot. In Jamaica, I had a battle with one of the execs at Viacom and they tried to throw me off the set. I fought back. I got the stars to agree that they'd walk off the set if I got thrown off the set. Chris Walken is a hero in Jamaica because of the 1990 picture The King of New York, where Chris plays the white head of a black gang and is really tough and bad. In Jamaica, he's a god.
"We had a huge scene one day with tons of extras. Our production manager went down at the end of the day with a suitcase chained to his wrist. And we thought he was going to get killed. Once you start passing out money, everyone says, 'I was there.' The poverty in Jamaica is so intense. I heard a similar situation happened on Ali on the big scene where they got a bunch of free extras. And they were paying some of them. And it's tricky thing to do in an impoverished third world country.
"The Sadness of Sex  is the most creative and intellectually satisfying movie I've ever made but it is extremely difficult to absorb in one sitting. I befriended this writer Barry Yourgrau who wrote these short flash fiction stories of less than a page long. He performs them in a standup setting and has a cult following in New York, LA and San Francisco. This was a compilation of ten of those stories, directed by Rupert Wainright, that we put together as one vaguely narrative structure about a hapless romantic.
"We got all these fabulous composers like Stuart Copeland, The Cowboy Junkies, to write something for free when we sent them one of our little stories. The film will visually blow your mind but it is hard to sit through in its entirety because it is so full of energy. But taken in pieces it is phenomenal.
"A couple of years ago, we posted pieces of it on IFilm.com. And at the time, it was the highest number of hits they'd ever had on IFilm.com. [Lead] Peta Wilson was nobody at the time. Then she got La Femme Nikita, the TV series, which became a huge hit. So people got crazy about her and that drove a lot of hits to IFilm.com to see our film. She was the girl of Barry's dreams. We had this phenomenal image of her in angel's wings and a garter belt. We had a distributor for the film that went broke. The story is a trail of tears. It never got properly released theatrically. It's not out on video. It's nowhere but the internet."
Luke: "Tell me about your 1999 movie Loving Jezebel - A man is cursed with falling in love with other men's women."
David: "I try to do one movie every couple of years out of love as my independent role of the dice. I try to put it together any way I can on a low budget. Loving Jezebel features a first-time writer-director Kwyn Bader. It was a black-white romantic comedy that made no mention of race. A black guy falls in love with a white girl. It was so refreshing not to even address it [race] at all. I don't think race matters much for urban kids anymore. We got it released through Universal and the [distributor] Shooting Gallery, just at the time Shooting Gallery was going bust."
Luke: "Don't Look Under the Bed ."
David: "We sold an idea to the Disney Channel about a young girl who has a bogeyman under her bed.
"I haven't shot a film in LA in years. It is too expensive. I'm amazed I could shoot Loving Jezebel in New York City. That's the only film I've shot in the location where the story is set in years. I've shot several films in South Africa. Caracara is set in New York but I shot it in Toronto. I took a guerilla second unit into New York City one day and shot out of the back of a van. I know the old-timer tricks for making movies look like some place they aren't.
"I'm a traditional kind of producer. I'm always on set."
Luke: "What do you do on set?"
David: "I'm crying. I'm pulling my hair out. I shoot second-unit [a second film crew] a lot. I know what we need to get. These are short schedules and low budgets and I had to grab whatever I can. It's part of the formula I've come up with to make these 24-day movies. They're not the full studio shoot and they're not TV movies. They're indy features that usually debut on HBO."
Luke: "You've shot several films in South Africa. Isn't that a dangerous place?"
David: "That's a misperception. I walk around at night. I bring my family over. I feel safer in Capetown than I do in LA. It's such a modern country now. Communication and transportation is first class. The people are gracious and hospitable. The artistry is excellent. The feel there is like America 15 years ago. There's hope rather than cynicism. We do what we want to do because we like it. There isn't the jaded angry mentality that exists here now."
I talked to David about the economics of movie making.
David: "The [independent movie] business has been circumvented by the consolidation of the channels of distribution."
Luke: "How has the retraction in foreign sales affected you?"
David: "Tremendously. I'm strictly an independent producer. I generate my own material and go out and try to sell it. I raise the money. I package it. There's been a steady decline in foreign sales over the past five years. The loss of the German market in the past two years. It was Japan four years ago that fell out of the box.
"Germany's collapse started with the collapse of the [high tech] Neur market, which is similar to our Nasdaq. The Neuhr market floated tons of new issues [during the high tech boom] and many of them aggressively bought up TV stations, etc., and consolidated assets. Just like our Internet tech bubble, there was too easy money chasing too bad deals. The market blew up and the valuations went to hell. The German market was already oversaturated with American product. And in foreign countries, there's always sensitivity about having only American product and no indigenous product.
"The video market has also consolidated. Blockbuster is essentially the only game in town. When people first got VCRs, they were watching anything."
Luke: "So what will you do?"
David: "What's interesting about the film business is that there's always somebody who's willing to put up some money to make a movie because ultimately there's a level of subjectivity to making movies that can never be corporatized. As Robert Altman has proved, people will always be attracted to something that is good. You can't marginalize good material and material is what ultimately drives everything. That's why I don't spend my time schmoozing people much. I spend my time trying to find good scripts.
"There will always be someone out there somewhere with a camera and an ability to tell a story, like The Blair Witch Project, which will make all of us look like idiots."
Luke: "Why don't you make studio films?"
David: "Nobody has asked me. I made my second film, 'Night Mother, for a studio. I've made other projects for studios too but they always end up in development hell. An executive leaves and the project falls apart. I like to make movies and I've been successful. I think the best revenge in Hollywood is to make another movie. You can sit around and take three years to get a movie made, but I don't have the patience for it."
David has lived in this house for 15 years. "Every movie represents something in this house. 'Night Mother bought me the house. I added one room after one movie. I built this office. I added the pool after Scam."
Married for seven years to Karen, David has a nine year-old son Jackson Lee, and a 17-year old highschool senior, Nick. "That's why I have to work so much."
I interviewed producer David Lancaster at his office-home March 13. He's a mild mannered cerebral guy in his mid 40s. Straight forward, low key, pale, nothing special to look at.
Then Wednesday night, March 20, I drove up Robertson Blvd to a screening of his latest movie, Federal Protection, and watched David erupt with joy.
I parked and walked past various art shops then turned into the club Moomba at 655 N. Robertson Blvd. I wandered downstairs and ran into David, along with several beautiful slender blondes and the movie director Anthony Hickox.
Anthony's mom Anne Coates, a famous editor (Lawrence of Arabia, Erin Brokovich fame), came by along with British movie music composer Guy Farley.
The movie, which premiered last Friday night on pay TV, garnering HBO's highest ratings in that time slot for two years, then played on a medium sized videoscreen. The tables were lit with candles. People drank lots of alcohol.
Throughout the movie, cell phones went off, the cash register clinked and people next to me chattered.
I had a hard time understanding the beginning of the film, but within ten minutes, it gripped me and drew me into this story of a man hunted by the Mob while he tries to hide out in the Witness Protection program.
It's the most violent film I've seen in a long time and it made my stomach churn. But most disconcerting of all, everytime the movie turned bloody, David's table erupted in loud cheers. Led by David, they were applauding the virtuosity of their filmmaking - a 23-day $2.5 million dollar shoot. In feature land, that's a low budget. Above a TV movie but below a regular feature. Federal Protection was a gripping B-movie.
But during its many scenes of sex and violence, I grew to pondering - is this really how the Holy One, Blessed Be He, wants us to be entertained? How could I pray twice a day in an Orthodox shul and then seek out this type of movie? Wouldn't my time be better spent studying Rashi's Torah commentary?
I thought that the scenes where actress Dina Meyer fellated her sister's husband David Lipper in a park, and engaged in spanking with him, particularly deviated from the way that God intended us to express our sexuality.
Amalek18: Since I cannot be there, I want you to discuss my ideas on diversity with the hollywood elite you will be hobnobbing with this night
After the screening, I spoke to an exultant and intoxicated David Lancaster. He was punching the air, exultant with how his latest movie had turned out.
David: "If you put Julia Roberts, Ashley Judd and Morgan Freeman in that film, it's a $100 million movie. Paramount has made a franchise out of Judd-Freeman thrillers. There's no difference between Federal Protection, aside from stars, and True Lies, Basic Instinct... And those movies had 90-days to shoot.
"We shot this in just 23 days in Montreal. We shot that whole hotel sequence where we have blood, guts, a shot through the guy's head, and a stiletto heel through the guy's forehead, in one day. All that blood and effects in one day. Then the whole sequence in the end, where he's chasing across the backyard with the machine guns firing and him jumping into the pool, that was all in one fucking night.
"We had the whole neighborhood up at 4AM because we were blowing off 20 mg machine gun shots. They threw us out the next night. We had to get it done that night. It's like the theater of the limited. At the end of the day, you have what you have, and you have to cut that and make it work.
"Like LA Confidential, you're seeing multiple subplots. The A-plot consists of Arman Assante and Angela Featherstone fall in love while he's on the run from the Mob. In the B-plot, you see Angela's husband David Lipper carry on an affair with the Dina Meyer character and try to get the money. Most Hollywood movies want to have an extremely linear story with no subplotting. I like to introduce several storylines so that it is much more mentally stimulating.
"Federal Protection had more B-movie texturing. Though many B-movies are linear. Roger Corman's movies are linear."
Anthony Hickox's mom Anne Coates helped with the editing of the movie. She thought the film too violent and she said she'd give her son Anthony a talking to about it.
I found this bio of Anne on Imdb.com: "After harrowing experiences as a nurse at Sir Archibald McIndoe's pioneering plastic surgery hospital in East Grinstead, Anne Coates started to fulfil her long-held ambition to be a film director with a company called Religious Films. The work consisted of patching up prints of devotional shorts before sending them out to Britain's churches. This led to a job in the cutting room at Pinewood, where she worked on "The Red Shoes" among others before achieving her first screen credit with "The Pickwick Papers"."
Anne was married to director Douglas Hickox who died in 1988. They have three kids - Anthony, James and Emma.
I began the evening talking with Anne's friend, English composer Guy Farley, who lives in London.
Guy: "Somebody listened to a score I did a couple of years ago. And they said to me, 'You're a very English-sounding composer. And I'd never thought of that before. But since I trained in England, and almost all the work I do is in England, I notice the difference being over here. I've been on the soundstage of the film Anne's cutting at the moment and just watching the way they work, and they're whole approach, is very different from the way we do it in England.
"This is the ultimate. Going on to the soundstage at Fox is fantastic. We might refer to one of our best studios being the Studio One at Abbey Road. And going to the Fox Newman soundstage, you could fit Studio One in five times over. In England, we tend to be more confined by our budgets.
"Everyone seems to have a positive approach over here. I'm amazed at how quick people are to open doors. In London, it tends to be more of a struggle.
"I've done a few movies for some independent movies over here. But when you're based in London, the work's there. You can come over here and talk to people, but the moment you leave, you've left. It's difficult, unless you're an A-list composer, to work consistently here and London.
"I'm seeing American composer Hal Lindes for dinner Thursday night. He lives here and does a lot of work in England. He's got a good agent in London. He brings the work back here and sends it all back via E-mail."
From Imdb.com on Hal Lindes: "Award winning Anglo-American film composer based in both Los Angeles and London. Born in Monterey, California, joined the [rock] group Dire Straits in 1980. Spent five years touring and recording with the group before leaving to concentrate on his first love of composing film music."
Gus: "If you listen to scores made here and scores made in England, and I can notice the difference. When I think of an American-sounding score, I think of John Williams, Jerry Goldsmith, and Hans Zimmer.
"I trained as a classical pianist from the age of seven. I trained at the Trinity College of Music. I studied organ and choral work under Leonard Smith. I then went to London University where I scored my first film in 1985, for tonight's director, Anthony Hickox.
"I went to a public school, Douai, a Roman Catholic school run by Benedictine monks. It originated in France. We had a chapel and an abbey with incredible organs."
Luke: "Did you get beaten a lot?"
Gus: "I never got beaten. I always talked my way out of it."
Luke: "I picture sadistic behavior at these schools."
Gus: "When you get to an English public school, you didn't talk to anybody above your year. You didn't even look at the prefects [leaders of the senior class]. Then there's the whole fagging system, where you are servants to the prefects and you do whatever they want you to do.
"The prefects are the 17 and 18-year old school offices. Then you have house leaders, house seconds, house thirds... They are in positions of authority. They can dish out punishment. They can make you get up at 6AM and run for an hour outside the headmaster's study. And they can take away your privileges and make your life miserable if they want to. The English public school system is an amazing tradition. You have to learn the school language.
"Before that, you're in a prep school until you're 12-13 years old. At prep school at age 12, you're a big fish. Then you go to public school with 350 other kids and you are small fish. You're a horrid frightened 13-year old spotty awkward lost kid. You're sent off to board away from home. I was sent off to board at age eight.
"When I got to public school, I didn't know anyone. I spent all my time in the music rooms because that was where I was happy. The schools are competitive about sports. If you weren't good at sports, you were an outsider. During rugby season, the only talk is who is in the First 15."
Luke: "How did you get access to girls?"
Gus: "That's why English public school boys are so hopeless with girls because they never learn how to interact with girls. On a Sunday, we'd set off at 10AM, after church, and walk for two hours to get in the vicinity of the local girls boarding school. You'd try to get an acquaintance going and you'd meet in a pub, which you weren't allowed to do. A highlight would be to meet a girl and end up writing. Most English public school boys just end up getting drunk, because they don't know how to deal with the emotions and speak to women.
"Then you get into the letter writing syndrome where you're writing to eight girls at eight different schools. Then there are the good looking boys who every girl wants and the ugly boys who don't get a look-in.
"The system is a failure because the same thing can be said of the girls schools, particularly the convents. The convent girls have the worst reputation because they just go wild when get freedom.
"But I look back on it affectionately. I loved those days, even though they were tough. It took me two years to forge any friendships at Douai. So I cultivated my relationship with the piano.
"Did you ever see the TV series Brideshead Revisited? I was married in 1990 and I had a son. My ex-wife now lives with one of the Howards, who own that place [the castle where the series was shot].
"I did a wonderful American film The Gardener . It was a horror film with Malcom McDowell playing a gardener who suffers from an extraordinary illness whereby he aged enormously. He'd take his victims and develop exotic flowers. Then I returned to England and have worked constantly. This is the first time I've been able to come back to Los Angeles. In England, things are dry now. It's a constant struggle. Conversations go like this.
"'Hello, are you available to work for us now?' 'Yeah, what are your dates' 'Well, I'm afraid that you'll need to start next Monday and you'll have two weeks to do the score.' 'How many minutes of music will you want?' 'We're thinking we'll need about 70 minutes.' 'Ok, 70-minutes of music in two weeks. An orchestral or electronic score?'
"'We'd like a mixture but we would like to get a string section in on that.' 'What's the budget?' 'We've only got about $40,000.' And you start thinking, 'Christ, what can you do?' The important thing is to deliver them a great job, sounding as good as it can sound, mixing in a good studio, using good players.
"I did a film a couple of years ago in England with a good director [Alex Jovey of the year 2000 film Sorted]. He was the sort of person who says, 'This is what I want. How can we achieve it? I want to find a way.' I asked him what sort of sound he wanted. He said, 'Guy, it's a love story and a thriller. I want a rich score.' So I played him some CDs, including Christopher Young's score to Entrapment. I think he had a 100-piece orchestra for this Catherine Zeta-Jones movie. I played him the love theme and his eyes lit up. 'I want that.' I said, 'Alex, at the moment, you've allowed me 25 strings. You're going to need to double that size.' He said, 'Leave it to me.' And two days later, he got me 34 strings.
"In England you don't know until the day you sign the contract and get the first check when you'll be working.
"Most of the work I do is for the independents. I do my best. I'd rather use a string section than synthesized strings. I know it will sound better. I don't want to sit in the theater cringing as I hear something cheap sounding. The difference between a live instrument and a synthesizer is distinct."
Luke: "Like porno soundtracks."
Guy: "How do you add a bit of rythym to the whole thing?"
Luke: "Many people think the best music written today is film music, rather than classical."
Guy: "Do you realize how hard it would be today to earn a living from composing classical music? The constant hiring of a 70-piece orchestra? Film composers are modern classical composers because they're writing music for symphonic size orchestras. To work with an 80-piece orchestra... Bach didn't work with an 80-piece orchestra.
"There are lots of contemporary composers writing avante-garde boundary breaking music... I'll ask my girlfriend sometimes, 'What do you think of this?' And she'll say, 'It's just bollocks. I hate it.' I find the music fascinating. It interests to me to see what modern composers are doing. When Stravinsky first performed The Rite of Spring, everyone walked out. It was regarded as the devil's music. Yet Stravinsky set the precedent for 20th Century music. And the same can be said of composers today.
"I was listening to some music the other day by a composer called Kurtog. I found it fascinating. My girlfriend said, 'Put some headphones on. I can't bear that. It's dreadful.'"