Jordan Peele’s Nope marked the third time the filmmaker has collaborated with composer Michael Abels, who brought his music from the sci-fi horror feature to life at Deadline’s Sound & Screen award-season event.
Following a performance of the score with a 60-piece orchestra, Abels spoke about his process creating music for film and working with Peele defining what a bad miracle, the theme of the film, sounds like.
“We talked about what that would be,” Abels said of creating that sound. “In the end, it was important that there be equal parts of awe and wonder, like what one would have looking at something that is spiritual in its beauty and also something that is just absolutely terrifying. And those two things had to live simultaneously for people to understand one of the themes of the film, which is how we’re all attracted to spectacle, even when we ought not to be — we can’t help it. A bad miracle is an example of something where we ought not to be but where we all just can’t look away.”
“After we talked about it a lot, I did some demos of different things,” Abels added. “I often don’t even tell Jordan what scene the music is for because as the writer-director, I figure if it gets to the film, Jordan will know where it goes. And he actually likes to move it around even when we have said that music will go for a certain scene. It’s really fascinating to see what that reveals about the character or the story. He really genuinely seeks collaboration from all of his department heads, so I really feel like there’s a high bar. It’s a joy to try to inspire him and the other people who are working in post.”
Working on a film that’s part part spaghetti Western and part extraterrestrial, among other themes, Abels says he tackles all the elements at once.
“There are about four different [themes] besides those two mentioned, it’s also a brother-sister love story, a family love story. It’s got some real heart in it. Then it’s also an action adventure in a way that’s surprising at the end. It’s important to really started in all those places and kind of find where they all could join in a cohesive score. It’s one note at a time, ultimately. But I do tackle them all at the same time.”
Check back Monday for the panel video.