February 8, 2017 at 7:47 pm #4670
Jesse Zubot – Canadian Screen Award Nominee
Achievement In Music: Original Score – Two Lovers and a Bear
Compiled by Haniya Aslam, edited by Janal Bechthold
Congratulations to SCGC member Jesse Zubot whose score for “Two Lovers and a Bear” has been nominated for a Canadian Screen Award nomination in the film category of “Achievement in Music: Original Score”.
“Two Lovers and a Bear” is a hypnotic romance about two star-crossed lovers who find that even the icy expanses of the Arctic offer little refuge from their pasts.
SCGC: What drew you to scoring this film? Did you have a personal connection to an aspect of the story?
JZ: There was an aspect of the spiritual world incorporated into the film’s story: one of the main characters is battling the spirit of her deceased father. In the last few years I’ve looked increasingly towards spirituality and unexplained emotion for inspiration in my musical creations, and felt I could connect with the abstract and surreal feeling of this film very naturally. Also, it was filmed in Nunavut, and for the last few years I’ve been working extensively with Inuit throat singer Tanya Tagaq. The work I’ve done with her is deeply rooted and connected to this area of the world, which helped me tap into this film very naturally.
SCGC: What was the biggest challenge you faced during this project?
JZ: The biggest challenge I faced, and usually face with film scores, was at the end of the process, when timing is key. Processes move much faster and are more demanding. I have a few good engineer friends (Sheldon Zaharko, ZED productions and John Raham, Afterlife Studios in Vancouver) who help me when I have a lot of stuff to get done quickly. I usually get them to help with the bigger string recordings. Then I take the (recordings) back to my personal studio and get to editing, mixing and overdubbing everything. As for managing the deadline, I like to do pre-production and get some initial cues down first. Then the bigger sessions with people helping a bit. Then I go back and finish stuff up on my own usually. I just make sure I get the bulk of things accomplished by around the middle of the process, to make sure there is enough time to tweak and make additions later — But that being said, I found the process with “Two Lovers and a Bear” to be comfortable and satisfying. Working with director Kim Nguyen was very easy.
SCGC What was working with Kim Nguyen like on his first fiction film since Oscar-nominated “Rebelle”?
JZ: The director, Kim Nguyen, provided a strong initial idea of what he liked and was looking for. We discussed our favourite film scores over lunch, and we both happened to like the same ones! Having a precise understanding of what was needed before I even began to create helped a lot. Kim was clear and confident in his decisions, which made (the process) easier for me. We seemed to see ‘eye to eye’ on the whole thing!
SCGC: Tell us about the sound of the score
JZ: The process of finding the right sound for the score happened quite quickly. We wanted the film to feel contemporary and surreal; I think what makes this score unique is the haunting, ambient quality of it. It has a kind of distant, eerie, arctic-love-story, sci-fi vibe to it, without being a sci-fi film!
Most of the score was done with synths, which create the core sound. I then used some ambient accordion swells, played by my friend Stefan Udell. I sampled a few notes from Tanya Tagaq’s voice, and then recorded some creepy live mini-orchestral sounds to mix with the weird synth sounds. I am foremost a violinist, so I added some of my own violin sounds too. Oh, and the harmonica! Been loving the ambient harmonica lately!
SCGC: What was your favourite part about working on this project?
JZ: My favourite part was getting to be creative in a very free and open way. Also, I loved the subject matter, and the film’s ‘easy on the eyes’ Arctic imagery was a pleasure to work with everyday.
For more about Jesse visit: