Shawn Linden’s Hunter Hunter has been over ten years in the making, and is now getting released by IFC Midnight December 18th. IFC Midnight is known for genre hits such as The Babadook, The Human Centipede and more recently The Wretched.
Hunter Hunter “follows a family living in the remote wilderness earning a living as fur trappers. Joseph Mersault (Devon Sawa), his wife Anne (Camille Sullivan), and their daughter Renée (Summer H. Howell) struggle to make ends meet and think their traps are being hunted by the return of a rogue wolf. Determined to catch the predator in the act, Joseph leaves his family behind to track the wolf. Anne and Renée grow increasingly anxious during Joseph’s prolonged absence and struggle to survive without him.
When they hear a strange noise outside their cabin, Anne hopes it is Joseph but instead finds a man named Lou (Nick Stahl), who has been severely injured and left for dead. The longer Lou stays and Joseph is away, the more paranoid Anne becomes, and the idea of a mysterious predator in the woods slowly becomes a threat much closer to home.”
Since the music in horror/thrillers is so essential, we decided to pull back the curtain on the Hunter Hunter score by composer Kevon Cronin. Below Kevon discusses the creative process for crafting the perfect soundscape for Hunter Hunter.
How did you get involved with Hunter Hunter?
A producer on the film, Juliet Hagopian, whom I have worked with on numerous projects brought me on to the project. We have a great working relationship, so she submitted my name for the project. The creatives liked my previous work, so I was lucky enough to get the job.
What initially attracted you to the film?
The quality of cinematography, acting and storytelling initially drew my attention to Hunter Hunter. The film afforded me the opportunity to challenge myself to create a score that could live up to these other elements.
How would you describe your score for the film?
I would describe the score as minimum and stark. It has very sparse elements. It was comprised of those elements to support the heavy presence of nature and predation of the film. For this, I reached out to a wonderful cellist, Norm Adams, who is renowned for his experimental nature. With him, we created a score that emphasized open octaves, open fifths, minimal vibrato and slowly developed tones. These elements were meant to become one with the environment.
How involved was Shawn Linden, the writer and director, with the score? Did he envision a very specific sound for the film? Or did you have more room to experiment?
Shawn was extensively involved throughout the project. He envisioned the sound that reflected the bare, isolating mood of the score. In essence, the score was to reflect the theme of the film. Which is an ode to the predatory spirit. Shawn provided invaluable feedback throughout the process.
Hunter Hunter takes place in the remote wilderness. How much did the setting influence your score?
The setting influenced the score extensively. It led me to make use of sparse elements, whether it was a lite drawing cello string or a knock-on wood to convey the tension and starkness of the wilderness.
You also have a holiday film out this month, Lets Meet Again on Christmas Eve, which is the exact opposite of Hunter Hunter. Is it difficult juggling back and forth between genres, or do you like it?
I enjoy the challenge of immersing myself in different scoring situations. While Hunter Hunter relied heavily on minimal elements to convey the tension in the film, Lets Meet Again on Christmas Eve required a much more extensive use of melody and thematic material throughout. Each project that I work on provides a new challenge for me to tackle and create a distinct identity for every film that I work on.
Is there anything else you would like readers to know about your Hunter Hunter score?
For this film I worked closely with a cellist to create the musical language to reflect the setting of the film. This involved numerous non-traditional playing techniques on the cello, to create the unique soundscape for Hunter Hunter. Just as important as where music is placed in the film, is where it isn’t. You may notice there is no music for the end credits. This was a decision that Shawn wanted, in order to close the film with only the desolate sound of the forest leading the audience to the end.
Was there a film score that made you realize you wanted to go into the business?
Yes, when I was eleven years old I heard Jerry Goldsmith’s score for Star Trek: First Contact and realized the power of combining music and cinema had. This led me to focus on film music while I was growing up and led me to study film scoring at Columbia College Chicago.
What would be your dream project to score?
Hunter Hunter really got my creative juices flowing and I would love the opportunity to work on more horror and thriller films in the future.
Many thanks to Kevon Cronin for taking the time for this interview.