Published on February 8th, 2020 | by Michael Newman0
Composer Jacob Bloomfield-Misrach Shares His Road To Slamdance Feature “Majnuni”
Recently I got to speak with Composer
Jacob Bloomfield-Misrach on his score for Majnuni
1) Where do you draw your inspiration from?
I’ve always had a well of sound inside me that is screaming to get out. Ever since I was a kid. Just give me something to bang on and a microphone and I’m good to go. Where that comes from I have no idea.
2) What are some of the unique challenges when composing in such a short time frame?
Composers for film tend to rely on midi instruments because it’s faster and more flexible for scoring deadlines. I try really hard to avoid those because they never quite capture the human element in a way that moves me. So, my biggest challenge is in writing, performing, recording and mixing real instruments, in real time, on a tight deadline. Sometimes it bites me in the ass if an edit changes, but other times I capture something that feels way better than a midi string section could.
3) How did you approach this film differently than others you have worked on in the past?
The score for Majnuni couldn’t feel like music. It had to feel like an extension of the city and it had to feel like the madness in our lead character. So, there are times when score is playing and you would have no idea that it’s score. I used a broken Farfisa to sound like a run-down trolley, and I used guitar cables that weren’t plugged into an instrument to sound like electrical currents from the street lights. That was new for me.
4) Are there creative advantages while composing as you are first discovering the film? Something that you feel might be lost given more time?
Yes and no. There is a moment of first love when you write a theme that resonates with the film. A jolt of connection. It’s amazing. But the real work comes with revisions. The score settles into the nooks and crannies of the edit, and that’s when the two worlds (sound and picture) really start to meld.
5) Were there particular areas of the film that were more difficult to compose for than others?
Yes, the main character ascends a staircase in a frenzy, following the smell of a woman he’s obsessing over. When that’s happening, you feel a combination of fear and love and chaos. Trying to capture all of those things, while being in a stairwell in Bosnia took a lot of trying and failing before finding the right sounds.
6) What would you say is your favorite part of your score and why?
I love how the score disappears. Our protagonist has a long shot running after a trolley through the streets of Bosnia and steam is rising from the ground. Somehow, using lots of broken instruments, the music disappears and simply becomes a part of the steam, the trolley, and his footsteps. There’s music happening the whole time, but most people don’t notice it. They definitely feel it though.
7) Would you say you learned something this time that you would do differently given the chance again?
I learned a lot of things from this film, but nothing I would do differently. That’s why I love what I do. Every film is a different challenge.
8) Did you learn anything particular about yourself while working on the film?
That I should continue to trust my instincts, especially when going into a more adventurous film. Making sounds that you’ve never made before is terrifying, especially if someone is paying you and they expect it to be great and they’re not giving you much time to do it. The only way to pull that off is to have faith in your instincts. Most of the time my subconscious finds a way to get me where I need to go. I just have to be willing to take the risks that it asks of me.