March 8, 2017 at 5:32 pm #4832
Jeff Toyne – Canadian Screen Award nominee
Best Original Music for a Program – Love Under the Stars
“Love Under the Stars” tells the story of young-at-heart graduate student Becca (Ashley Newbrough), who strikes up an unlikely friendship with 9-year-old Emily (Jaeda Lily Miller), a quiet girl who recently lost her mother. During their time together, Becca helps Emily come out of her shell and cope with her loss, and Emily teaches Becca more about grown up responsibility. When a romance develops between Becca and Emily’s father Nate (Wes Brown), they must learn to balance their new relationship with his responsibility to Emily and Becca’s responsibility to finish her thesis for her supportive college advisor, Walt (Barry Bostwick).
SCGC: Did you have a personal reaction/connection to the project? How was it meaningful to you?
JT: While I didn’t have a personal loss as significant as Emily’s in my own life to draw directly from, I did have my very own little 3-year-old girl running around the studio at the time I was writing this score, so that made it easy think about seeing the world through young eyes the way that Becca (and Emily) did, and it was easy to imagine Nate’s paternal protectiveness.
SCGC: What was the biggest challenge you faced during this project?
JT: This type of project always poses a challenge of time. There’s never enough! In addition, filmmakers were located in both Los Angeles and Vancouver so we had to rely on technology to have virtual meetings, spotting sessions and presentations. This film presented a unique challenge with regard to the temp score. I haven’t run into this situation before or since on a project: the network had notes on the temp score in the cut that the producers wanted to lock. Normally they would lock the cut, hand it off to post sound, and address those music notes during scoring (the only notes that must be addressed before locking the cut obviously, are picture edits – notes about sound, music, VFX, ADR, colour timing etc. can all be addressed with the locked cut). In this case, the network refused to approve the locked cut until their music notes were addressed in the temp score, which was then going to be replaced. The producers did not have a music editor, the temp score had been created by the picture editor, so it soon fell to me to fix the temp score in order to get the locked cut approved so I could begin my actual work of scoring, and replacing the temp score. It felt like working on a sand mandala, that will be destroyed as soon as it is completed.
SCGC: Describe the “sound” of the score and choosing instrumentation. Did you use any musicians or unusual instruments?
JT: Woodwinds, especially flute and bassoon were featured, along with piano and strings. Guitars played an important role to lend a contemporary feel – I like to use a lot of different members of the guitar family, to keep the sound changing – steel string, nylon string, 12-string, high strung, hollow-body and solid-body electric guitars, baritone guitar, dobro, lap steel, pedal steel, ukelele, mandolin, charango, cuatro, balalaika, domra, bandura, dulcimer. The list continues to grow!
SCGC: Was there anything different about your approach to using music and adding it to picture for this score?
JT: I am always looking to create a unique sound for each project, and that does occasionally lead to alternative approaches to production. Sometimes it can be liberating to limit your artistic choices. For this project, I wrote the themes and sketched to picture using piano only, then allowed my orchestrators latitude when realizing the final orchestration. This is a technique that I’ve had experience with, particularly when I orchestrated for Alan Menken (Mirror Mirror). It allowed me to focus on melody, harmony and structure, and allowed the orchestrators to bring their creativity to the table in terms of colour. Of course I could always decide I’d like a different instrument here or there, but one of the things that this method does is allow me to critique any sample programming quite harshly, because I don’t become ‘used to’ the sound of the samples in the place of live players, which can be an occupational hazard. Because my team all use the same DAW and matching rigs, I’m able to make final detail polishes myself.
“Love Under the Stars” next airing:
Wednesday March 8 at 5:00 PM EST/PST 4:00 CST on the Hallmark Channel in the US.
Tuesday April 4 at 8:00 AM (SC4), 12:30 PM (SC3), 7:30 PM (SC3), and On-Demand Apr 01-30 on Super Channel in Canada.