Sleep Tight: Interview with Lucas Vidal

[ALSO IN SPANISH] Check it out!

I am a fan of fantastic and terror movies, but in Spain, I had not been captivated for genre until these last years, and to be completely honest, with two directors named Jaume Balagueró and Alejandro Amenabar, who have demonstrated quality and craft to offer products beyond the typical and topic movies of years ago.

I would add proposals so interesting like The Orphanage of Juan Antonio Bayona, or some movies of Alex de la Iglesia (like The Day of the Beast), although maybe, if we’re talking about horror and suspense, I chose the films of Jaume Balagueró and Alejandro Amenabar; they’re easily exportable products out of our country (in fact, we have the case of remakes in USA of Spanish sucessess like Rec or Abre los Ojos, films of both directors).

Sleep Tight – The Movie

From the hands of Jaume Balagueró comes this fantastic thriller (with hints of terror) called Mientras Duermes (Sleep Tight, 2011), where we have a psychotic and obsessive community porter named César (an incredible Luis Tosar’s performance, as always). He has been weaving a real web to wrap his loved Clara (an excellent and beautiful Marta Etura), with the objective of achieving her love, but it will be too complicated, especially when her boyfriend (a boy named Mark, interpreted by Alberto San Juan), returns to visit her from his job in New York.

With this emotional (and false) triangle forming in the mind of César, his plan to get Clara will be complicated (apparently), emptying in a spiral of violence that reached a really dramatic final climax.

While Rec and Fragiles (Fragile) films are really well, Sleep Tight is the best film of Jaume Balagueró from his tow first films, Los Sin Nombre and Darkness (in my humble opinion).

The performances are excellent, with a good job of directing actors, which highlights Luis Tosar (he deserves a nomination for the Goya awards) and Marta Etura, the besieged girl (curiously, the couple of Luis Tosar in the real life).

And also include second-line players such the odious Clara’s neighbor (a repellent girl, a character which caused animosity, empathizing with Cesar) or the argentine actor Carlos Lasarte (presented in many films of Jaume Balagueró), always looking for problems to César.

The script is perfectly executed, and the situations and resolutions are consistent and logical, with a final climax really satisfying.

And one of the best elements of the film (essential) is the score of Lucas Vidal, who composes a compelling and tight score, with a central motif full of melancholy and dramatic elements, displaying an excellent use of tension music, including excellent resources of electronic music.

Sleep Tight – The Score

The score is built primarily on a principal leitmotif dedicated to the character of César, where the strings (especially violins) and piano build a beautiful, delicate and melancholy motive for the community porter, reflecting a semblance of normalcy in the daily routine of the character, but always from a nostalgic tone.

This leitmotif becomes the central axis of the score, being developed and integrated into more melodic or dramatic passages, as corresponds to the plot of the film, reaching heights master at the time of Caesar’s apparent failure, or the final climax of the film, which highlights the fantastic final coda, a wonderful end titles which emerge the sound of cellos in advance of the main leitmotif, played by the strings and glonckenspiel, with a haunting closing through a the sound of a figurations of violins.

Lucas Vidal also uses musical figures so skilful to introduce tension and accompany the misdeeds, harassments and night raids of César, with the orchestra (especially violins, piano, harp and percussion) and the emergence of electronic sounds (even hum or distortions). The mix of both elements also serve to more tense scenes of César, as the unexpected arrival of Clara with her boyfriend Mark, or the subsequent flight of César from Clara’s floor, where the composer shines intensely, offering a very tense and dynamic passage.

At finally, note a wonderful and heroic motif, intended for small personal successes of César, present at the excellent scene of the cockroaches, where Lucas Vidal offers a large symphonic piece of music with a minimalist touch. String instruments (violins and cellos) are split into two layers or sections (one with wonderful spicattos as ostinato, the another one playing and carrying the melody), with the appearance of flutes and the sound of the glockenspiel to garnish the final set.

In summary, an excellent job of apparent and subtle accompaniment that enhances and strengthens the strange empathy that sometimes we feel towards César. In my opinion, one of the most outstanding of 2011, with national flavor.

The Lucas Vidal’s Score was nominated to the Jerry Goldsmith Awards of 2011, in the VII International Film Music Festival – Ciudad de Úbeda.

Sleep Tight – Interview with Lucas Vidal

Hi Lucas. Firs of all, a big hug from all the team of Asturscore in Spain (Asturias). And personally, I want to congratulate you for your great work in Mientras Duermes (Sleep Tight), where the score is a fundamental part of the film, adding a dramatic and tension dimension really fascinating.

1) Firs of all, How did you get involved in this exciting project?.

I already had a connection with Filmax through another project I had been involved with. They introduced me to Jaume because they believed Mientras could be a good opportunity for us to work together. That is how the project started!

2) How is working with Jaume Balagueró, one of the best horror directors of Spain?.

Awesome! I sincerely feel it is difficult to find filmmakers like Jaume. He is very creative, a real perfectionist, but at the same time very flexible. He always pushed me to discover new sonorities and he also contributed a lot of ideas.

3) Tell us about the creative process. How did you approach the score for the film?. What were the guidelands on which you were building the great dramatic tapestry of the film (highlighting, specially, the string section)?.

Based upon the demos (ideas) that I was offering to him, we were discovering the sound that we thought could best work with the dramatic action of the film. No doubt that the strings would handle an important dramatic aspect. We never thought that the score could work with a huge orchestra. Rather, it should be something delicate and particular.

4) The main leitmotif (associated to the character of César), is a magnificent piece full of melancholy, a beautiful melody developed with restraint (like a great part of your score). Thanks to your music, we can empathize with this character. Your music is an element that helps clear to this fin, in a subtle way, especially with the piano. What was the genesis of the creation of this motif?. Was it an indication of the director, or you follow your own musical instincts?

In fact, it was something we really collaborated on. I presented to him a lot of ideas and he was giving his opinion about what could work the best. We wanted it to represent, in a subconscious way, the state of mind of the principal character (César). This was taking place with the piano, the strings, the electronic music, depending upon the particular dramatic moment.

5) There is another very good motif, almost heroic tone, linked to the character of César, to the time that cockroaches break into the floor of Clara (a master plan of César to turn in a hero). It’s funny how so melodic and heroic piece has as counterpoint the scene of the cockroaches. How did you think in associate this beautiful rhythmic motive for a seemingly repulsive scene for the viewer?.

In this particular cue, we wanted to transmit a feeling of Cesar´s “victory”, because all his evil plans were going well! For this reason, it was essential that the music made the audience understand the feelings that the character was experiencing while committing these crimes. Something that could represent our repulsion, but at the same time tat we could also feel “what a bad guy”!

6) Suspense is another musical element omnipresent in this score (always tight, but without choking), with the presence of electronic components (such the nocturne and unexpected visit of the boyfriend of Clara, Marcos, and the subsequent getaway of César of the Clara’s floor). Your way of working, in this respect, it reminds me at times some compositions of composers as Christopher Young. Is it a genre (terror and thriller) in which you are comfortable?. You really seem to have an innate gift to work in this type of compositions, in view of the final results (like your work for Vanishing on 7th Street).

I sincerely think that it has been just a coincidence. I always loved this genre, but I also like others like drama or action. In fact the latest films that I have done are action films, “The Cold Light of Day”, with Bruce Willis, and “The Raven”, with John Cusack. So everything depends upon each project, I think. Nevertheless, it is true that, having done other films of this genre, I feel more comfortable writing for it than others, like comedy.

7) Which have been your assessments about your participation in Sleep Tight?. Will we have occasion to enjoy a new work of Lucas Vidal for a film by Jaume Balagueró?.

I honestly think that it could not have been a more satisfactory experience for me. To have the opportunity to learn from a filmmaker like Jaume does not happen every day. Thats why I wanted to work very closely with him in order to fully understand his vision, and write music that could work adequately with the film. Confidentially, I have the feeling that it could happen in the future.

8) Finally, what are your new projects for the future?

I am working with Daniel Calparsoro in “Invasor”, that is being shot now. I also have another film called “Bait” with Paul Schrader, who was the scriptwriter of “Taxi driver”, and director of “American Gigolo” amongst others. I will do the score for the film “After Party” from Miguel Larraya.

It seems that I may work again with James McTeigue (“V form Vendetta”) on his next film, and there are two American projects that are very cool, but I can not say anything about them at the moment, but you will have news soon! So I am quite busy now, with a lot of hopes, and above all a desire to continue learning!

Again, thank you very much for your time and good luck in your new projects Lucas.

Thank you.

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