Composer Mario Sévigny began his career with the horror genre scoring the short film Ice Cold, which centers around two sisters who venture through the Canadian wilderness and after encountering a mysterious women at a gas station, a strange series of events unfolds. The film resonated with audiences and went on to win Screamfest’s “Best Short” award along with receiving accolades at the Newport Beach Film Festival and the Canadian Society of Cinematographers Awards. Twelve years later, Sevigny has scored many recognizable titles including Dream Big!, Mohawk Girls, Lance et compte and the Canadian youth series Jeremie. His latest project is the hit drama The Art of More starring Dennis Quaid and Kate Bosworth on the Crackle network, which is owned by Sony Pictures Entertainment.
In this exclusive interview Sévigny talks about everything from using his horror roots to experiment with unique sounds in The Art of More to what he might change musically for the upcoming second season.
-One can say you began your career in the horror genre with the film “Ice Cold”. How did you get involved with this movie?
Yes! My whole career began because of this short horror movie! I got a call from the film’s supervisor because all the other composers dropped out. They had zero budget (Literally $0!) and everybody told me to decline because I had a baby daughter and no work. Instead, I did the exact opposite. I told myself “Ok I’ll do it and use their images to make myself a demo”. It turned out that the editor was also doing all the movie trailers in Montreal and he called me for his latest one.
Since then, I have done about 100 movie trailers with him all over the world! Cut to a few years later when the director called me for a teen movie. I now work with him regularly and we did about a dozen movies and series together. Ice Cold won the best horror short movie award that year at the Screamfest of Los Angeles, so it was all worth it.
-Where did you get your inspiration for this score? Did you watch any horror films before scoring it to get a sense of how you wanted the film to sound?
The director gave me a few soundtracks he liked. I listened to James Newton Howard’s Unbreakable and Christopher Young’s Jennifer 8 soundtracks. I studied their music and learned when and where to keep the suspense and when to build up to the punch.
-What are some of your personal favorite horror films?
I’m a big fan of the classic horror movies. There’s something eerie that makes you feel weird in the old movies. I think that the old analog cameras and the classical soundtracks give a particular feel of anguish and anxiety. My favorite of all time is The Shinning. I think that psychological horror films are a lot more scary than some of the blood bath kind of movies!
-You recently finished scoring the first season of Crackle’s “The Art of More”? What was that like?
It was an amazing project! The main character, played by Christian Cooke, had a double life so it was interesting to play his theme in both situations but with a different arrangement. Fun fact, in this series I used an old horror movie trick for one particular scene, to make it feel extra eerie. The technique involves doing a circular movement on the rim of wine glass with a wet finger. It gave an incredible weird tone to one of the characters who was dealing with a panic attack.
-What would you say the tone is for the show’s score?
I’d say suspenseful. There was electronic synth pulses mixed with orchestral strings and horns. I also used some timescape synths. It was almost like sound designing for a few scenes!
-What was your favorite episode in season one to score and why?
The last episode for sure! First because all the themes were developed and you get comfortable with the series. Also because the story fully reveals itself in this last episode! There’s still a lot of mystery left but with the music, I got to wrap up a few cliff hangers and it gets bigger through the episode.
-Congrats on getting a 2nd season of “The Art of More”. What are you going to do differently in the 2nd season if anything?
Thanks! Well, I have already begun working on few things. I recorded an Algerian musician a few weeks ago. He played some electric violins and stringed Middle East instruments on a few themes. So to answer the question, I want more acoustic roots instruments. But there will still be the electro part. I want to mix them even more for season two.