Our Storyhive funded short film I Phub You is officially complete and sent in to Telus. In the weeks leading up to the February release we are going to be posting a series of interviews with the people that made this film happen (cast, crew, etc!) so you can get to know us a little better. We are going to be asking about their process and their take on the film.
Today we have composer and sound designer, Geoff Manchester joining us for an interview. Geoff Manchester is an award winning film and television composer and post-audio mixer based in Toronto who is thrilled to be working again with Sam Reid and Justin Kueber. Since beginning his career as a film composer he has created original music for numerous projects including Marriage: Shattered Vows (2016), which won best documentary at the Los Angeles Film Festival this year. He has recently completed work on his first feature film On the Rocks (2016), and is currently completing post-production audio and an original score for the forthcoming feature film The Protege (2016). Geoff holds a diploma in audio engineering and music production from Recording Arts Canada. He also runs a successful Youtube Channel under the moniker Manchester Music for which he creates educational content for emerging composers.
When you first received the film what were your initial thoughts? In terms of music, did you have any ideas right from the beginning?
My first impression was just how delightful it was to see a black and white film that actually followed the speed and cropping specs of that era. As far as music was concerned I had a completely different vision of what the film should sound like, compared to how it sounds now. My original idea was to use a wholly digital/synthesized soundscape. I wanted to surprise people who may have expected a ragtime piano or a chamber orchestra. In the end though, I found it so difficult to convey the character’s emotion on a micro level and the totality of the emotion in Phub on a macro level using only digital sounds. Folly, whimsy, delight; these things really come across with orchestral tools, so I threw in the towel!
Your music really is the driving point of the film. What was your overall goal with the music? How did you develop it?
The goal was to compliment the action of the characters on screen and to simultaneously create a character with music. I imagine this character as someone who might almost be cheering Kurtis on as he sought to truly connect with someone, whether or not I actually achieved this will be up to the audience, ha.
What were your influences (if any) for composing the score?
There were two main influences for this film’s score. The first was Adrian Belew’s work in Disney’s Piper. The second was Christophe Beck’s work in Disney’s Paperman, a black and white film incidentally. Both films had the tone and feel I was trying to get across with my music for Phub, and both films also used very tight, tiny orchestras (to my ears anyway) which is what I was aiming for.: something personal and intimate.
What types of instruments/sounds did you use and why?
Oh boy. A ton. There’s everything from choral choirs, to woodwinds to chamber orchestras to solo violins. My proudest moment was getting to use a Marxophone, which is a fretless zither instrument. It sounds a bit like a mandolin but it’s got a much more ‘old fashion tone’; it’s difficult to explain. You can hear examples of it from when Kurtis first comes-to in the bathroom and also when he’s wandering around in the park.
How was this different from other films you have scored?
I’ve never used so many symphonic tools in one score. I mean, not a single synthesizer was harmed in the marking of this movie. To me, it’s a real challenge to convince people they’re listening to a real orchestra when they’re not. Everything was programmed on a computer by someone (me) who couldn’t get through ‘Mary had a Little Lamb’ on viola. If I’m being honest I was never technically trained in music composition and I can’t read it very well, so the idea of having to make something authentic and believable from a computer was a huge challenge.