News roundup: Jason Momoa, Tyler Bates, Rose McGowan, and glorious Conan poster

In this Associated Press interview, Jason (quite rightly) addresses the Arnold question by bringing up Sean Connery and Daniel Craig both being awesome James Bonds, and Jack Nicholson & Heath Ledger being fantastic Jokers, which is exactly the sort of thing people should keep in mind:

After the break we have more interviews, including a tantalizing glimpse of the best poster for this film I’ve seen yet. But the only way forward is through the gates of the silver click…

The Huffington Post has an interview with Tyler Bates, where discussion of his work on Conan naturally arises. Here are the parts relevant to Conan, but the interview is fairly lengthy and detailed, and offers some intriguing insight into his creative process:

Mike Ragogna: Tyler, you composed the music for the new 3D movie Conan The Barbarian. Just how humongous was the orchestra this time out?

Tyler Bates: (laughs) Well, we got creative with layering the orchestra, probably due to some of the restrictions on our resources, but it sounds pretty huge. That comes from years of making the most of what I have to work with in a given situation. I would say the first one I really had to stretch production value was 300–the music budget was probably 1/10th of what they spent on Troy. So, we recorded that in three days. The way you do it is first off, you have to have a great team and you have to come in extremely prepared and understand what your objective is. Fortunately, Tim Williams, who has worked with me for a long time, is really fantastic at helping prepare for that, he’s my orchestrator and talent.

MR: Did you conduct?

TB: No, he conducts, I prefer to be in the booth, and his conducting career really started with me also.

MR: How so?

TB: We used to be next-door neighbors, we literally met at the end of the driveway eight or nine years ago. Tim is a fantastic conductor as well as orchestrator, and the reason I like to be in the booth is because I’m listening to the music in a different way. It’s a much more critical listening environment at least for me. I can hear intonation and timing and expression, everything is so emotional when you’re out with the orchestra. Sometimes, those things can be overlooked. Also, I like to be in the booth with the director and the producers, in case there are any questions or any suggestions or thoughts, that way I can address those immediately.

MR: How much layering of additional synths and extra percussion were added, as opposed to just the recording of the orchestra for the three days?

TB: We recorded no orchestral percussion as far as our orchestra sessions are concerned. All of the percussion is stuff that was programmed or played by Brian Cuccia, and Greg Ellis did some of the work. He’s gone back many years with me, especially on 300. He did a big job there, but Brian works with me every day, so we set up his studio with timpani and kettledrums and a ton of ethnic percussion. He spent 24 days consecutively recording that stuff, and it was a pretty heavy load for him, but he did a fabulous job. There was so much happening at the eleventh hour, it took all of our resources to make it happen.

MR: Your resume is pretty phenomenal, you have 300, The Stand, Badass, and the Rob Zombie movies. How did you approach Conan differently then you did the more horror films or more dramatic movies?

TB: One of the most important aspects of the Conan film and the music is emotion, theme, and soul. It has to be soulful. I consider The Devil’s Rejects to be soulful even though it’s one of the most disturbing scores I’ve ever worked on. Actually, with Conan, it gave me an opportunity to work with a couple of themes throughout the film and more motifs than I have really done. The score is fairly brutal if you’ve heard the majority of it, very percussive, and very aggressive on the strings. But there are more emotional and epic moments.

MR: A composition like “Egg Race,” for example.

TB: (laughs) These titles, man, so eloquent aren’t they? Overall, the sound of the score is supposed to feel primal, but again, epic in scale. And what I wanted to do was instead of go right to the sword and sandals sound–some of which was established in 300–I wanted to create a time period that felt long ago and wasn’t too specific, but at the same time, have a contemporary edge to the music. I think we got there pretty well. There are just so many different aspects of what the music is and the creation of the music for this movie.

MR: Were there any challenging pieces for this? Like, they gave you footage and you weren’t sure what you were going to put to it?

TB: I think Marcus Nispel really shoots great stuff, so there was nothing that was really a technical challenge as much as it was a challenge to do something that was complimentary to the film or helped take it to another level. I never sit down in front of any picture and say, “I got this,” I always feel like I will never know what the hell I’m going to do next. I try to block out the whole lore of Conan, all of the expectations of the hardcore fans, the amazing music that Basil Poledouris did in the past. The only way I could do a good job is to put all of that out of my mind and treat this like it’s a new film without that history.

MR: Obviously, you’re overwriting because scenes have been edited. How is it for a composer who writes music for a scene that goes from A-Z, then they take out P, Q, and R. How do you truncate all of that?

TB: That’s actually a really difficult challenge. Honestly, it’s not as much of a problem in action oriented movies because it’s more frenetic. What happens that creates an issue is when a few frames are added here or there to a scene–especially if it’s a very rhythmically oriented piece because you have to still hit your cuts–and it doesn’t really make musical sense. It’s all very difficult to conform your music once you feel it and written it a certain way. There’s definitely a scene in Conan where I managed to get it back. It’s where Conan is born on the battlefield and we go into the first Conan theme and the theme was originally quite a bit longer. I wrote the first piece in about a day. And to adjust the piece when I got the new cut took me about two and a half days because I was trying to maintain the emotion. Any of those adagios are very difficult to truncate, because one chord is just held long enough to evoke the emotion before changing to the next. When you speed up the sequence of those chords, especially if they are in a format that requires one leading to the next, there is some sort of diatonic structure and you’re in a pinch.

MR: What would you say are the major differences between Conan and some of your other scores?

TB: I learn from everything I do and I try and do a better job on every next movie. From my experiences, there is some correlation between 300 and Conan–of course, 300 was one of the films Marcus Nispel discussed with me when he hired me. He was very interested in how I integrated the non-organic matter with the orchestra and the choir. We didn’t do as much of that on this because this movie ended up feeling more natural to me. 300 was, especially at the time it came out, a very hyper-stylized movie visually. Some of the cutting…Zach has done a lot of the slow-mo action into ramped speed events, so that elicited more hyper-realistic statements, whereas this movie plays more in a linear fashion as 300 is. That presents its own challenges. When you’re playing action in the background and there’s a quiet narrative on top of it, there has to be some duality to the music that services both aspects and both dynamics. It ultimately gave us a license to do a lot of different things. I started writing 300 a year and half before the movie was made, so they showed me the comic book and we started developing ideas from the beginning. Zach knew he wanted a big choir, he knew he wanted rock ‘n’ roll and he got me figuring it out early on.

MR: What are you predicting will come first–Conan The Barbian 2 or another Rob Zombie movie?

TB: Bring them on. I always love the opportunity to work with Rob. I know he’s about ready to get started on something else in the fall when he’s done touring. Hopefully, Rob and I will get back out at the beginning of next year.

Oman Tribune talked with Rose McGowan on the phone about various subjects, including her time in the makeup chair, character development and filming for Conan:

McGowan is on the phone to talk about Conan the Barbarian. Set for release on Aug. 19 and based on the pulp-fiction saga created by Robert E. Howard, the film follows the eponymous hero (Jason Momoa) as he seeks vengeance against Khalar Zym (Stephen Lang), the power-mad villain who killed his father. McGowan plays the villainess Marique, a half-human/half-witch who also happens to be Zym’s approval-seeking daughter.

“I think Marique absolutely cares more about winning the approval of her father (than killing Conan),” McGowan says. “The studio was really nervous. They cut down some moments that shaped the relationship of the characters. She really quite inappropriately loves her father, and he’s obsessed with resurrecting his dead wife. So in some ways that’s really cool. It gives it more pathos than the simple story of the guy who wants all the power or wants to kill Conan so he can have all the power in the world and blah, blah, blah, that kind of thing.

“He’s just really terribly distraught over his dead wife and he wants to resurrect her,” the actress says, “and I’m jealous of my dead mother. And for that I kill.”

McGowan sports a typically exotic, otherworldly look in Conan the Barbarian, from her costume and hair to her skin and talon-spiked fingers. Achieving that look required as long as six hours daily in a makeup chair.

Sure, it got draining, McGowan admits, but it was worth the time spent.

“If anybody else was tired, I was like, ‘Listen, chump, why don’t you get here at 2 in the morning and we’ll talk about tired, OK?,”‘ she says, laughing. “It was interesting, because a lot of people sleep during the makeup process, and I couldn’t, because it was so critical that I not move a muscle.

‘’‘M.T.’ has always been my nickname in makeup chairs,’’ McGowan adds, “because I’m a moving target. I’m always turning my head and seeing what’s going on. I have a really hard time sitting still. I just get so bored and I don’t want to be in the chair anymore. But I was very impressed with (makeup supervisor) Scott Wheeler. Scott is immensely talented, and his team had some people from Bulgaria and some from the States, and they were all so amazing.

“I owed it to them to sit in the chair,” she concludes, “and I wanted to look as good as possible as Marique. I wanted her to look flawless. And I think she’s quite majestic in her own way.”

Conan the Barbarian was shot in Bulgaria, with much of the filming done outdoors, on location. McGowan credits German director Marcus Nispel for masterfully juggling the location challenges, a huge cast, nonstop action, loads of FX, a largely Bulgarian crew and …

“A lot of producers and that (crazy) accent,” McGowan says, laughing again. “You know, Marcus was there with his orange pants and his bucket hat and this ridiculously long beard that he refused to shave while he was doing the movie. So pretty much his neck had gray beard hair shooting sideways. He refused to shave it while he was filming. And he always had a smile on his face, no matter what.

And as a little extra, Rose McGowan explicates to Movieweb why she turned down Red Sonja:

Finally, courtesy of the Robert E. Howard Forums’ thundarr and CMB commentator poirot (and cleaned up a bit by yours truly), the best – by FAR – poster for the upcoming Conan film I’ve seen yet, which looks like a John Buscema design brought to life. Man, what I wouldn’t give for a clear 300dpi copy of this poster…

Look at it. Isn’t that just magnificent? I think even the staunchest Arnold fan would be forced to admit Jason looks every inch the bronzed giant borne of Robert E. Howard’s imagination.

This entry was posted on Thursday, August 11th, 2011 at 12:10 am and is filed under Official Conan Movie News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

  • Anonymous

    I like Rose well enough, but I am sooooo glad she isn’t going to be Red Sonja, especially since she botoxed her face or whatever.

  • justin long

    they are advertising this movie hard in the UK, which is great as I didnt think it would get half as much exposure. See tonnes of busses with Conan on the side and I got my Lovefilm order today (same as Netflix for those in the states) and the packaging was completely covered in an advert for the Conan movie…

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_TBMJFTOVQR4IJXYJXJXMO6KSME Mario Geraci

    whatever happened to that motion comic they were going to release to coincide with this?

  • Anonymous

    That poster should’ve been the first one released to promote the film, imo.

    I also love the way the film’s matte paintings are being used as backdrops in these latest interviews.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1003722695 Grant Griffard

    TB “And what I wanted to do was instead of go right to the sword and sandals sound–some of which was established in 300–I wanted to create a time period that felt long ago and wasn’t too specific, but at the same time, have a contemporary edge to the music.”

    There is nothing contemporary about Conan. No Tyler, you don’t have permission to make the soundtrack suck with modern edgy whatever you call it. I do not approve. The samples didn’t sound bad, but if the rest of the score does… We’ll be “doing lunch”.

  • Anonymous

    Dear Lionsgate,

    You should really put that last poster to float on the internet with a nice size/resolution. That is one bitching poster and is going to sell the movie very well. But folks got to see it. Like Taranaich said, even Arnold fans would have to go “Damn, that is one mean Conan, by Crom”. I’ve seen it on a bus already, might as well put it up on line.

    Is it me or Jason is looking huge in that interview? -Shaved like that, dude looks like Conan going to the disco.

  • http://twitter.com/IAmALittleBear Anna Howard

    This poster is in quite a few places in Glasgow. I saw it on Monday on my way to work and I was blown away. They have really done a good job on the marketing because he seems to be everywhere you look in Glasgow.

  • http://www.facebook.com/grailchaser Andrew Leitch

    Its strange. I remember going to see The Mummy II and my friend critiquing the CGI, which I thought looked fine (well, except for the Scorpion King). But he’d been trained in computer graphics and I hadn’t.

    But now I get it. Because artistically, I think the new poster is a hopeless composite mess.

    There’s too many conflicting light sources and I think that only covers up for the fact that the lighting of his body is inconsistent with any of them. My suspicion is that they’ve used photoshop to merge two separate pictures of Momoa together down the middle of the torso and the popped a head on top and another pic of his war-kilt on the bottom.

    How do I know this? Well, for starters, the right shoulder, because his right arm is stretching out to the sword, should be lower, rather than at the same height as his left. The tip of the broadsword should not be visible over his other shoulder. If his chest is in shadow, his war kilt should be as well.

    I guess these things won’t stand out in such a jarring way to the casual observer. But I don’t like it.

  • Anonymous

    Ditto. I don’t like it. From the shot I have seen on this site I am very underwhelmed. But hey it’s only a poster, its the movie which needs to impress

  • Anonymous

    I don’t know I started to like Tyler Bates when he made fun of the Egg Race title. I mean who would want to create a musical score named after that? I feel for the guy. From what I have heard from his score nothing blows me away but he is doing a job and the movie has to inspire. The music for 300 certainly did the job and I don’t think he is a hack. especially about his comments in regard to budget. I wonder if Basil had the same constraints? By the way it is cool that he loves the old movies score, obviously a man of taste.

  • http://twitter.com/ralphdamiani Ralph Damiani

    Awesome poster! The art department is seeing some serious development over the initial releases.

  • http://twitter.com/ralphdamiani Ralph Damiani

    I disagree. If you look at the initial attempts to make a poster you can see a clear evolution in what they’re trying to accomplish. Rememer the awful teaser poster with Conan on his knees in a very unflattering pose? Sure you could get much better results than this from actual illustrations or a staged picture on a well lit set.

    But I believe they were given very poor photographs to work with, with no attention to lighting and no backdrops at all. They had to enhance it as best as they could to match the actual footage and trailers, and that’s a very challenging job working with crude material.

    It’s far from perfect, yes. All those nitpicks are very dead on, especially concerning the anatomy involved, but they’ll pass unnoticed by the general audience, as it takes an artist’s eye to spot them. They could have opted for a cleaner composite, but I suspect the studio was very specific about the “gritty, dirty, bloody and chaotic” elements they required.

    I have no passion (so far) for some of the choices made in this film, but I suppose some credit is due for this attempt to approach those promo pieces to the graphic novels.

  • Anonymous

    The poster has the atmosphere and light than I miss in some scenes of the trailers, which look just like done in “pure daylight”. I’d like them also done in some dramatic and luminous manner as for example Peter Jackson did it in Lord of the rings. Just another world, another age. I’m also looking forward to a “Beyond the black river” done by Peter Jackson or Ridley Scott.

    And … forget this austrian bodybuilder, he never was an actor, only a poser who borrowed his muscles for a movie… Jason Momoa fits perfect, and he will get better with every sequel.

    A lifetime Conan fan from Germany

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002594612413 Mirishka MoreMomoa

    great new poster….i like it.

  • Leandro Sant’ Ana
  • Anonymous

    this is the” conan anthology “cover from “editions du soleil” in france ,drawn by john buscema, and that is exactly what it reminded me since the first time i saw it, remove the pretty blonde girl , replace this the double edge axe by a broadsword and you got it, especially by the smouldering eyes, buscema was a genius.
    i intented to put this picture on line on this site , but still, i can”t do do it , you did it for me , so, thanks , many thanks from a french fan.

  • justin long

    I saw it on several bus stops in London today… looks brilliant huge, def the best one yet

  • Finn Palm

    The movie is coming out in a week. Here in Sweden there hasn’t been one single word about it as of yet. No posters, no newspaper ads, nothing. Not. One. Word. Yesterday I went down to a theater to make sure that it would actually show in theaters in Sweden, or if there had been some change. They said it would. Meanwhile they’re promoting Cowboys and Aliens with huge posters and banners all over the theater. But not Conan. I’ll bet money that none of the people in the theater at the time, working or otherwise, have any idea that Conan isn’t created by Arnold and Milius.

    Howard’s creation have been polluted and no rinsing will ever get it clean..

  • Anonymous

    Well youre simply wrong.
    I live in Stockholm and theres been ads every day for the past week or so in the biggest morning newspaper in Sweden (Dagens Nyheter). Theres been ads in the Cinema-magazine and also several ads in the evening press.
    Ad to that the pre-screening taking place on Aug 17 in Stockholm to which Paradox Ent invited all shareholders to see the film and join the Conan-Party in a club in central Stockholm.
    The film opens Aug 19 and Im sure none will miss that.

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