Marginalia, Graduate Blog

Flip Flops in the Windy City: Current Project

Mason Kaye

I have just completed my first collaboration with director Bubba Murray on his short film Robox.  Intrigued?  Read on…

The Film

Robox centers around a cardboard robot built by a child.

At first, the robot is content with his friendship with the child within the confines of their house.  But once the robot leaves, he goes through an emotional and existential transformation, realizing his true and lonely role in the world.

After a car accident leaves him destroyed, he understands the best way for him to return to his child friend is to be recycled into smaller robots (or Roboxes).

Why it’s cool

This film has a great message, and is told in a fun and interesting way.  It is part of a project all first year MFA directors do, where the use of production sound and synched dialog is prohibited.  This means the directors are not allowed to record any sound while shooting their film; all sound must be created in post production.  This often means there is little to no sound, and not very much dialog.  This kind of project is great for composers, because it essentially turns these films into music videos, a chance for the music to really shine through.  When Bubba screened the rough cut of Robox, I was eager to work with him because I saw that I could write the kind of music I really liked to write.  I soon found out we felt the same way about the emotional needs of his film and the role music would play in it.

Writing the Score

I first suggested some temp tracks to Bubba.  After watching his film, I thought that “Penelope’s Theme” and “The Perfect Con” from The Brothers Bloom were tracks that already supported the emotional feel Bubba was going for.  He dug it, and I had a fun task before me: try to emulate a completely live and quirky score using almost exclusively electronic instruments.  I decided to use a string quartet, a piano, a player piano, an organ, a clarinet, a drum kit, an electric bass, and men humming.  The use of men humming served to humanize the score in order to reflect Robox’s existential awakening.  In an effort to simulate live, quirky players, I didn’t quantize a single note in the score.  I wrote three themes (main, happy, and sad), and went to work.  In a matter of hours, I had scored the 7 minute film.  [THE SCORE]  I credit Bubba with providing a wonderful canvas for me to paint on.

Mixing the Score

I was lucky enough to have composition professor and Pro Tools genius Gary Chang mix my score.  By applying some much needed EQ, a great weight lifted off the strings.  And after running the stems through Altiverb, the music suddenly sounded live.  I took my “Chang-ed” stems home, and ran them through my new dbx 1066 outboard compressor.  The difference was noticeable!  This is also the first project I’ve worked on using my new TC Konnekt 48 audio interface.

Please read this post to fully understand the sexiness of the above photo.  And make sure to check out Bubba’s film once it’s done!!

Flip Flops in the Windy City: Current Project

I have just completed my first collaboration with director Bubba Murray on his short film Robox.  Intrigued?  Read on… The Film Robox centers around a cardboard robot built by a child. At …

Music Composition for the Screen MFA Mason Kaye, mason.kaye@yahoo.com
600 S. Michigan Ave. Chicago, IL 60605

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