A few months ago, we interviewed Michael Bross, the latest composer for Ratchet & Clank games. Today is Evan Wise's turn, the young and talented composer for the R&C movie, who was kind enough to answer our questions about his career and work.
1- Where did your will to become a film composer take its roots? When did you realize it was the one and only path you wanted to take?
While I was studying music at my university I was focusing on piano and conducting studies. I have a love for film and film music so when I started getting more into score study I decided to take the path to composition which lead me to pursing a career as a film composer.
I knew it was the only path for me because I understood how important music was to a film or television show. I wanted to create musical characters that would enhance the overall production.
2- How were you approached to compose the Ratchet & Clank movie's soundtrack?
I was an in-house composer for a publisher who secured the contract to hire the composer for the film. I have a background in orchestration and scoring animation so I was able to successfully demo on the film. Once the producers heard my demo they approved me as the composer of the film. I then scored a test scene which is the Canyon Run on the soundtrack, and after that process everyone became comfortable and excited with the direction I was going to take the music in.
3- What did you enjoy the most about this universe and its characters?
My favorite aspect of the universe and characters is the balance of comedy with sci-fi action. I can’t think of too many examples where the action and comedy are balanced as well as they are in the Ratchet and Clank universe. As a composer this is exciting because you have to find a way to implement comedic music during scenes of action and drama.
4- What were your main inspirations (movies, music, composers, etc) when defining the film's musical identity?
My main inspiration and direction for the score was from the original demos I wrote. I wrote two 5 minute suites of music that would define the film’s musical identity. Within those suites I developed Ratchet’s Main Tittle and Clank’s theme. I wrote those suites of music before I had any footage from the film, therefore I would watch hours of gameplay from youtube to get a feel for the action and tone of the universe.
That being said, there’s a call of stylistic similarities to other scores in the music. I tried my best not to copy the tonality and orchestration of other famous scores in the sci-fi or comedy genre, but to make it my own sound while also not trying to reinvent the wheel.
5- Is there a film genre you most appreciate working on?
I love working in animation. There are very few people on earth that have scored an animated feature and it’s probably the most difficult genre of film to score. The music has to be specifically timed while it captures the action and tone changes within seconds of each other. The music in animation is in a constant state of transition and makes for an intriguing listening experience. Having said that, it also makes for a more complicated writing process, but I have never been more creatively fulfilled than when I was working on the Ratchet and Clank Movie score.
6- If you had an opportunity to compose for a videogame or any other medium, would you grab it, or keep composing for movies? In both cases, why?
I would gladly write for a video game or any other medium. I am interested mostly in developing my own style of orchestral music and want to be sought after for that specific sound. I’m not interested in being hired to imitate someone or write music that is more sound design oriented. I’m in the process right now of writing absolute music for the concert stage and will hopefully be able to share more about that soon.
7- What are the most valuable lessons you learnt while working on the R&C movie?
I learned so many lessons during this process but the most valuable lesson I learned was how important it is to have a direction with the film’s music in order for a film’s soundtrack to sound cohesive. I was very lucky to have the support of the director and producers in accepting my vision for the film’s music and not just asking me to knock off the temp music or copy another composers style. This was a luxury that a lot of composers don’t have and I’m happy my first film gave me the opportunity to make a personal musical statement.
8- Do you have any regrets in particular, regarding this project?
I don’t have any regrets in particular. Everything I could control I am 100% happy and thrilled with. I do wish I had had some more information about the final production of the music going in. I was under the impression that a full orchestral recording was going to take place and that was why I was so eager to make the personal and financial sacrifices I did to commit to this project.
But I’m glad the majority of the fans seem to be very happy with the film.
9- On the other side, what makes you proud about it?
I’m blown away by how the film looks for the budget it was made on. I believe that’s a testament to the artist involved and the dedication a lot of people had to see this film get made. I’m also very pleased with the level of writing and orchestration which I was able to achieve. I’m so glad I had the opportunity to push myself to write with such nuanced details and at other times with tremendous musical ornaments to bring out the characters and tone of the film.
No, we didn’t get to record the score with a full orchestra and I know that impacts the music sonically, but I’ve had to understand that was completely out of my control and therefore I have to be proud of the work I did. I’m very proud of the soundtrack and I’m thankful Milan Records wanted to release it not only on a digital format but produce a CD as well.
10- Would you have some words for the Ratchet Galaxy community?
I want to thank everyone for seeing the film. If you have a chance please checkout the soundtrack available on itunes or CD at amazon.com You can also stream the soundtrack on several different platforms. You can find me online at www.evanwise.com or twitter.