CineVino met up with Elan Bogarin, the filmmaker who co-directed the documentary film 306 Hollywood and the film’s composer, Troy Herion, at Bottlerocket Wine & Spirit in New York City. Over a glass of 2016 Perlita Malbec-Syrah from Argentina, Elan and Troy discussed the film’s score and the music of 306 Hollywood.
306 Hollywood, A Family Affair
Elan Bogarin: My name is Elan Bogerin and I am the director of 306 Hollywood and we are here with CineVino. And I am here with Troy Herion, who is the composer, as well as one of the coproducers and editors of the film, 306 Hollywood and we are going to talk about the score of the film.
Troy Herion: Cheers.
Elan Bogarin: Happy to be here.
Troy Herion: Mmmmm.. delicious.
Elan Bogarin: It is good. To get us started, so the other fun fact of this is, we are actually married and we work together.
Troy Herion: So we have talked a lot about the score.
Elan Bogarin: Yeah, but what was it like working with me. (They both laugh and take a sip of their wine.)
Troy Herion: Very ordinary.
Elan Bogarin: Ordinary?
Troy Herion: Sort of like every day life. Uhm, no, one of the good things abut working with someone you are related to. There are good things and bad things. One of the good things is I think we can be honest with each other. For better or worse but I think it is for better. We are both know what we are capable of so you cannot do what you are capable of and it’s unspoken You know I am going to do everything I can. And I would expect the same from you.
Elan Bogarin: Yeah, I think it’s, in terms of our film, it was a family affair. I codirected the film with my brother and of course Troy worked as a crucial collaborator and you have to muscle through that and stick together.
Troy Herion: Yeah, the only down side of that is it doesn’t really turn of. You know, so it’s like dinner time, you are still talking about it and at night time you go back to your computer, you are still working and it’s all that. it’s an obsessive world when we work on a project together.
Elan Bogarin: Yeah, this film definitely took over our lives for an extended amount of time. Anyways, so, okay, as a composer, while this is somewhat unbiased, but it is in fact true, Troy is a brilliant, incredible composer with a classical background and really quite a cool career that I have been lucky enough to watch. So you come into the film when we are not actually done, but we made you dive in very quickly.
Troy Herion: Yeah I finished one of the largest premiers of my career, maybe a day before I started and I had this big theater project with a hundred performers, an orchestra, choirs, all sorts of stuff and that happened and then the next day I am editing a film in a dark room. And we just had to go because we were applying to Sundance and because the dead line was approaching. And I am also an editor so for like the first two r three weeks I was just editing the film with Elan and Jonathon and they were also still shooting. So we were just working that out. But as an editor, I know, I kind of look forward to how I am going to compose, so I can make some decisions about rhythm and pacing, that are going to make sense musically down the line.
Elan Bogarin: I think one thing one thing I am very fascinating with by working with Troy, is getting to actually sculpt something musically. So, you know usually when you edit, the number one thing is story. Which of course it is for all of us and it was for us as well, but I think the idea of using rhythm and using structural pacing to shift up each scene to scene, so it actually breaks up how you watch something is sort of the crucial fabric of how you make sense of how to ultimately score something. But how do you use music to influence how a you structure a story?
Troy Herion: You know, everything to me is musical. I think that it is something I am just use to know. Because I have been understanding the world in a musical way since I was a child and I was on a musical path taking music lessons and then becoming a professional musician, so I think about structure in the way that a lot of classical pieces are structured. Where there is just sort of an introduction, an elaboration, and a conclusion at it’s most basic element. And you can kind say that works for literature too. But with music, you get that information that way. Introduction, elaboration and conclusion but you also have these other factors of intonation, volume, acceleration and deceleration all of those factors also work in those structures balance one another. So, I just feel like I have been a musician long enough so that it is kind of second nature but sometimes I think of it consciously, especially if I am stuck, if I don’t know what comes next, how do and there are some principals that are good forms to fall back on that will just give it balance and momentum.
Elan Bogarin: Like what?
Troy Herion: We’ll, contrast for one. So, if you get to the end of something and you are not sure what happens next, if it’s loud go soft or if it’s soft go loud. That can infuse energy. If there is a sense of rhythm, I mean it is the same way you make a composition. You play out an idea. A classical ethic is to play out an idea as long as possible. Try to get as much interest out of it as possible before you really change.
Elan Bogarin: The film is a magical, realist documentary which is not a traditional thing. It is something we tried out and we wanted to try to break down the form of a documentary and effectively bring nonfiction into this scope and history of fiction of cinema and one thing we asked of you is to take this concept of and also a documentary that we don’t really think f and build out an amazing score. How did you think about that. Hw did you actually find the sound world for that?
Troy Herion: Well first of all, it’s really exciting when any director or filmmaker says they really want the music to transform the film. I believe that that is true. I think that a lot of people know it is true but when you guys, you and Jonathan were saying from the get-go, we are taking ordinary life, and we want to make it extraordinary and one way is a little to do that is to match music that almost shouldn’t go with it. That is a little bit elaborate or to lush. Some music you would usually reserve for an important subject or an very magical place. Okay so here is your grandmothers house. Now put an orchestral score to it and suddenly you sense the magic that is there and the music can bring out the sort of latent electricity in the room.
Elan Bogarin: I mean I think that is something we really wanted. We kept saying make it as bold as possibly, go as far as you could. I think that is something I really like in films, make the music as big as you can, mix the music as loud as possible, and then you feel as you move through the scenes, you move along with the music and Troy does amazingly but yeah, so then in terms of the specific sound world, the sound palate, how did you begin to find the actually sound itself?
Troy Herion: Well, there are a lot of different sounds. Its cohesive. The score is cohesive and there are themes that are unifying every cue. But, the sounds themselves contrast with one another. So I knew that I wanted to draw from more traditional, magical scores, so that’s orchestral instruments, and I started there, but I didn’t really draw from film music. People ask me often, what film music are you influenced by, I am more influenced by classical compositions, which a lot of other filmmakers are influenced are, like if you ask what did John Williams influenced by, it’s Stravinsky, Prokofiev, Wagner, something like that or what did Danny Elfman use.
Elan Bogarin: But that is some of the key ways that I think we should look at topics in general. I feel there is such a sense of that we need to compartmentalize or silo influences we take from and that there is always sort of the this idea if you are a film composer there is a category you pull from, or if you are a documentary filmmaker there is a category you pull from and so on and so forth and I just feel that is sort of a misguided.. or not misguided but why can’t we think bigger.
Troy Herion: Well, I think we are similar like that. We like so many different things and one of our pleasure of our lives is to pay attention and to find unusual things and really appreciate unusual things, but also take something that is ordinary and look for the unusual aspects of them. So there are influences that can show up anywhere. There is classical influences. Okay, a million composers will be like, I am influenced by this composition. Yeah, that is true for me. W.C. symphonic works, I definitely drew inspiration from that, but there are visual inspirations. The cataloging that you did in the film of these beautiful arrangements of your grandmothers objects, that stretch back a hundred years and on there own, they are kind of crappy objects. They are really nothing important. There is a matchbook, a wine glass, an ashtray, a tie, but there is so much texture in them and that I love. I love texture, I love texture so much and I love sonic texture.
The wine experience in this video is a Perlita Malbec-Syrah 2016 from the Mendoza region of Argentina. A very special thank you to Bottlerocket Wine & Spirit for partnering with us on this experience.
This is part one of a two part CineVino interview with the filmmakers of 306 Hollywood. Special thank you to Matthew Lesman for our video/sound department.