OUT OF BLUE
director notes: Carol Morley
I followed Clint Mansell on Twitter, and was delighted when he followed me back. I sent him a direct message: ‘Clint, this is probably not the way to approach you, but I’ve just gone into the edit with my new film and if you were at all interested or had the time, I could tell you more about it.’ And like a dream come true, within a few weeks, he was the composer for ‘Out of Blue’.
I was so happy that he was on board, I couldn’t stop telling everyone. This led to our executive producer at the British Film Institute, Ben Roberts, sending me a raft of special badges printed with my often heard refrain: ‘Clint Mansell is doing the music’.
After some Skypes and email exchanges, I travelled from London to Los Angeles to meet Clint and screen a cut of ‘Out of Blue’ to him. We arranged to meet for breakfast at Mel’s Diner on Sunset Boulevard. I arrived first and felt the nerves mount. What if we didn’t actually get on in the flesh? He arrived in a whirlwind of enthusiasm, and we chatted about Stourbridge, where he is from in the West Midlands, and Stockport, where I am from in Greater Manchester. These mentions of our English home towns brought us right down to earth, and we connected - instantly.
Later we snaked our way through the traffic in his matt black Dodge Challenger to the screening room, where we sat a few seats apart, the only people in the theatre. This is when Clint saw ‘Out of Blue’ in its entirety for the first time. I felt terrified - what if he didn’t want to make music for the film any more? But afterwards we didn’t stop talking about the film and everything that it covered, in one way or another. We talked about death, stars, parallel universes, and cats. We talked about exploring the atmosphere and instrumentation of music from New Orleans where the film is set, where Clint had once lived for three years. We discussed Mike, the lead detective character, and how powerfully Patricia Clarkson portrays her, that none of the great performances in.
A few days after our first meeting, I went to Clint’s studio, with its dramatic view overlooking the Hollywood Hills. He sat at his console, while I sat expectantly on the edge of the sofa behind him. He played me the first ‘Out of Blue’ demo track, the track that is now called ‘We Are All Stardust’. When it finished, Clint turned around to get my reaction, and found me crying. “It’s just so right, so perfect,” I said, feeling it had matched up perfectly with the opening scene of the film. At this point he told me that it was not the track he’d been lining up to go in that particular place, and it was a mistake! But somehow, for both of us, it just worked. It sealed its place. It was our start.
When we recorded the score at Air Studios in London, I felt like I’d won a competition. To be there, to hear the fantastic musicians bring all the detail to life, to feel I was inside Clint’s head and heart, was astonishing. I also have to add that Clint and his engineer Geoff Foster and orchestrator Matt Dunkley, allowed me to contribute one note to the score, a B-flat on my clarinet. It’s my Hitchcock moment – he always made brief appearances in his films – though, of course, mine is a musical one
With Clint, I’ve met a brilliant new collaborator, but also I’ve made a life-long friend. While his head is quite suited to being in the stars, he is also a down to earth person. An everyday, cosmic kind of guy. My favourite kind.
So now ‘Out of Blue’ is made, but never over - as it will continue to live and take shape in those that watch and listen to it, and are captivated by Clint Mansell’s truly original music.
So, here we have it, this soaring, heart shifting, mind bending soundtrack for ‘Out of Blue’. It takes you about and around and inside yourself. It propels, it develops, it leads us places. It is true to the film, but doesn’t illustrate what we see. It has its own energy, its own beautiful hidden depths, and it creates its own star spangled mystery.
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