Mark Snow (Composer - 'Coeurs')
'To The Heart of The Matter'
Film composer Mark Snow has just scored legendary French director Alain Resnais' second collaboration with playwright Alan Ayckbourn, "Coeurs" ("Hearts"). Resnais based the earlier film "Smoking/No Smoking" on a series of plays written by Ayckbourn. The new film, adapted from the award-winning play of the same name, offers a darkly comedic glimpse into the lives of six lonely characters and the strange circumstances that connect them.
The 83-year old Resnais, known for his unique and innovative style, has directed more than forty shorts and feature films. Among them are "Hiroshima Mon Amour," a quirky love story, and "Providence," an intellectually stimulating story about a dying man's thoughts. He has received several French César awards for his work. Although this will be his first time working with Mark Snow, he has been a fan of Snow's work for years.
Snow has received numerous Emmy nominations and ASCAP awards. Last year, he became the first composer to receive ASCAP's prestigious Golden Note Award for lifetime achievement and impact on music culture. Past Golden Note recipients include Elton John, Sean "Diddy" Combs and Stevie Wonder. He has enjoyed great popular success as well. Mark Snow's iconic "X-Files" theme remains a worldwide phenomenon.
Taking it from the top and it seems that for this new film, ‘Coeurs' ('Hearts'), you are scoring legendary French director Alain Resnais' second collaboration with playwright Alan Ayckbourn. How was it first proposed to you and what exactly drew you to this project? "Alain Resnais called six months before he started shooting. Apparently, he was a big fan of mine from watching “The X Files” and “Millenium” when they were first broadcast in Paris."
When you were initially offered the scoring role did you have any idea what that title meant? Does it ever make any difference to you if the title is something you don't understand and if so, do you go out of your way to discover its literal meaning, perhaps? "The title of a project, no matter how obvious or cryptic, is of no concern in terms of thinking about what the music should be. But the more cryptic and shadowy it is, the more interesting it seems to be. It tends to draw you into the project with more anticipation."
What was your experience like working with the 83 year-old Resnais? Does he still possess any quirks that he perhaps displayed when it came to the orchestration of this soundtrack? "Working with Alain Resnais was one of the greatest collaborations I’ve ever had in my career. This man has such creativity and insight. He is one of the most true artists I have ever met. He never has to compromise his vision of what the film is going to be. He has such an enormous track record and garners enormous respect. He always has final cut and total creative control."
"He had taken some of my previous music and actually played it on the set for the crew and the actors. The film editor laid it into the film as temp track. Already, he was completely on board with my material. He said I should go forward and surprise him."
It's claimed that although this is the first time Resnais has worked with you that he has been a fan of yours for years. When you first met him, what were some of his opening lines to you re: his thoughts on any of your prior works? "When I first met him, what was so wonderful about our first meeting is that I’d just flown in from New York on an all-night flight. I got into my hotel around 9 a.m. He was there to meet my wife and myself. He was like an old friend. He kissed us both on both cheeks in the French style. His English was wonderful as was his energy and excitement about working together."
Last year you became the first composer to receive ASCAP's prestigious Golden Note Award for lifetime achievement and impact on music culture. Wow, now THAT's an honor if ever I read one! Being that you are now in the same company as Elton John and Stevie Wonder to name just two, what does this award truly mean to you ... and where do you keep it - at home or at the office?! "To be in the company of Elton John, Stevie Wonder, Andre Previn and a whole host of very eclectic and experienced musicians, composers and songwriters is a real honor. The award itself is very, very heavy. It’s a big piece of glass. Right now, it’s on my piano in my home."
With work credited to over one hundred television and feature film's, which would you point to as being stand out pieces in your resume? "Without a doubt, “The X Files” is probably the stand-out."
What's lined-up after ‘Coeurs'? Do you have any forthcoming soundtrack scoring, perhaps? "I’m working on the new season of “Smallville” and also “Ghost Whisperer,” which seems to be doing quite well."
If you could rearrange/re-touch any film score from the '70s or '80s, which movie would it be from ... and why? "Believe it or not, I would rearrange the melody of the theme from “Lawrence of Arabia,” not to say that the original work wasn’t wonderful."
Interviewed by Russell A. Trunk
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