Soundtrack to Charlie Kaufman & Duke Johnson's 2016 Oscar-Nominated Animated Picture
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"Anomalisa was originally written for the Theater of the New Ear project, a presentation of one-act plays by Charlie Kaufman and Joel and Ethan Coen that were intended to be audio experiences. We called them "sound plays". The actors sat with their scripts on music stands, backed by a group of musicians and a foley artist. No sets, no costumes. Charlie and the Coens directed their plays and I composed and conducted the music. We performed Anomalisa at UCLA's Royce Hall in September 2005.
"The project was conceived to require as little time as possible from the performers, and this helped us get amazing casts with very little money. It followed that the shows would be seen by a small number of people. I think Anomalisa may have had three performances. So, I was quite surprised when Charlie told me there were people who wanted to make a feature-length animated film out of it. The material is, like most of Charlie's work, quite challenging, and I couldn't imagine how this film would get funded. The answer was the website Kickstarter, which allows the public to fund projects they deem worthy.
"The film was completed in fits and starts as they ran out of money and found new sources. When at last it was time to score it, I used some of the themes we'd used in the live performance. But there was quite a lot of new material too. The play had originally been an audio experience, but now it was visual. Quite visual. In some ways the musical challenges had not changed - I was trying to breath emotional life into a highly contrived situation. Trying to emphasize the humanity and vulnerability of the characters so that, as they open their hearts, we open ours to them as well.
"As before, Bohdan Hilash coordinated the musicians. We tried to get the same eight players who'd performed ten years before in the live shows. This wasn't quite possible - some live overseas or were on tour - but we got 6 out of the 8. The fact that we were not performing live made many things simpler. As a conductor working with live musicians and live actors, it was an challenge to keep the groups in sync. On film, we could use a metronome track as a guide. Still, in our playing we always went for "feel" rather than perfection, which seemed in keeping with the "handmade" ethos of the project." - Carter Burwell