Earlier this year we featured composer and musician Jim Guthrie in a story that chronicled his movement between the worlds of indie rock and indie gaming. Guthrie’s most recent project was as composer for the celebrated documentary Indie Game: The Movie. The film was an official selection at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, and it took home the festival’s award for documentary editing. It was also an official selection at the SXSW Film Festival.
The movie opens today, May 18, as a theatrical release in four major American cities, including New York and Los Angeles. Guthrie’s official soundtrack was also released this week, so it seemed a great time to check in with him about the process of creating that soundtrack.
Shauna Powers: Can you describe the kind of responses people have had to Indie Game: The Movie in general, and your soundtrack in particular?
Jim Guthrie: The response has been really good. It seems a lot of people can identify/empathize with game devs in the film. The soundtrack hasn't been fully released yet but the response has been pretty positive so far as well.
SP: When the film screened at South by Southwest, were you there? If so, what was it like for you experiencing the movie in a theatre full of strangers?
JG: I was at SXSW and it was pretty surreal to sit in the crowd and see the completed film for the first time. I was pretty nervous and mostly focused on how it was mixed and how everything sounded in general. I think James [Swirsky] and Lisanne [Pajot] did an amazing job with it all.
SP: Writing music for a film takes a particular kind of focus, but I would guess that translating it into an album is another thing entirely. How did that process differ for you?
JG: In a film most of the emotional content is onscreen and a lot of time music is just supporting what's already present. My biggest goal was to write stuff that wouldn't get in the way or distract the viewer. If someone watches the film and feels something but doesn't remember the music so much then I feel like my score was successful.
SP: Now that you have leapt into the world of film scoring, is it something you would do again?
JG: Well, this is my fifth film. Before this I did When We Were Boys (2009), Tagged (2009), Real Time (2008) and The Bodybuilder and I (2007). I'm actually working on another film starting now-ish and I'm sure it won't be my last.
SP: Does any of the music on the soundtrack have a special resonance for you?
JG: I'd have to say the song featured in the trailer for IGTM is one of the big ones for me. It's a song called “Maybe You'll Get Some, Maybe You Won't,” and it's really the first piece of music I wrote for the film. I was able to hit all the highs and lows I wanted while creating a unique blend of acoustic and electronic sounds throughout. It's one of those tunes that comes out of nowhere but manages to instrumentally encompass what the film is about in a crazy, abstract way.
SP: How do people find the soundtrack?
JG: It's available digitally and on double LP on Bandcamp and on iTunes.
SP: What's next for Jim Guthrie?
JG: I have to finish up another solo record this fall and then I'm also working on another doc and video game (or two). I'm pretty booked for the next year and it feels amazing to be this busy.
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