Or more accurately, Wendy and Lisa talk to The Good Ship Phaeton. I recently sent an email to the two Virtuality composers, asking them how they came to work on the show, and what went into writing the score. This is what they had to say.
We originally spoke with Ron Moore about “Virtuality” when BSG was winding down and we heard about “Caprica” being developed. We wondered if there was a chance for us to score “Caprica.” Of course, we kind of knew that the scoring gig would most likely go to Bear McCreary, but we couldn’t help but ask. We are big fans of BSG and have some history with Ron Moore, having worked on ”Carnivale.” We also had worked with David Eick on “Bionic Woman,” so we thought ‘something’s gotta come our way here!’
After several phone calls and assurances of a solid mutual admiration, we were sent a rough cut of the Pilot for “Virtuality.” Even in its raw stages we thought it was a fantastic stroke of genius. Ron Moore thought we would be perfect for the show. THANK YOU RON! We were called to have an initial music meeting with Peter Berg, who had directed the episode, and was waist deep in making the show work. There were so many ideas bouncing off the walls, it was like a creativity pinball machine. It was a very lively meeting. We watched yet another rough cut, and were still wildly impressed with the visuals, the story lines, the approach for music…. which brings me to the path we took in scoring the show.
We knew that throughout the show we wanted to always feel as if something was not quite right. almost like a horror film where even the act of a sweet mother of three cracking an egg into a pan could make you feel like the egg might somehow be life threatening. The initial attempt at this didn’t quite work. it was too dark and made us feel like everyone on board the ship was a psychotic depressive and really there was nothing at risk. So… we had to find the balance. Make the moments that were light still have lightness, but maybe just a hint of anxiety.
Also, what was fun to do were the shots of the ship, Phaeton, from outer space. The tendancy in most Sci-Fi movies and shows is to play big god-like chords over shots like these, and although we did do that in a couple of shots, in the beginning acts we wanted to do something different and bring the Phaeton ‘down to earth’ so to speak. We played unlikely reggae music, or toy piano, etc. to make it feel like there were actual human beings on board. Given that this show was to be taking place somewhere in the not TOO distant future, the fact that people were in outer space with all this advanced technology and the mission that was ahead of them, shouldn’t feel completely out of reach. It was somewhere between “2001” and “MASH”…. you know, how in MASH they would play golf as if they were at home at a country club NOT in the front lines in a war zone.
Anyway… As the show got molded and honed by the creative teams at work on the show, we did our best to keep the balance of Human experience, Science Fiction, and Dark Horror.
In my opinion there has never been a show with this ambition and task. I sincerely hope it connects with the sci-fi audience, and maybe even some that might not usually watch these kinds of things. It is a superior piece of work.
Kudos to our fellow task masters who worked on VIRTUALITY!
Lisa Coleman and Wendy Melvoin