Interview with Terry Huud: “1873: The Insidious Intrigue,” A Composer’s Insight

Terry_HuudWords and music. One begins where the other ends. Or so it’s said. But what about film scores? Words and music go together, interweaving to make a single impression. And silent films – well, the music can’t begin where the words end, because there is no dialogue at all. Each project presents a unique challenge, and it takes a special kind of musician to cope with such a demanding field.

With projects like 1873: The Insidious Intrigue, the Discovery Channel’s Movie Magic series and Stories of the Sea in his portfolio, Terry Huud is an experienced composer and musician. His range of styles has brought to life the emotive nuances of over two dozen films and television series. Some of his work can even be found in the Smithsonian archives.

I caught up with him between his various projects and appearances to learn about the world of music behind the screen.

Me: What pulled you into writing music? And what led you to compose scores specifically for film and television? 

Terry Huud: I needed music for my student films in High school and College so I figured why not do it myself?  (As if I was not doing enough by writing, producing, directing and editing them!)  I was still feeling out what I would enjoy most about the film making process and music turned out to be the best I was suited for. If I did it for myself why not apply to other people’s projects?

Me: Documentaries, horror, science fiction, and fantasy. You’ve covered a wide range of genres for a variety of projects. Is your process very different when writing music for, say, a documentary, than it would be for a horror short?  

Terry Huud: Each project is approached differently. Getting to know the project and the ‘heart’ of each project takes time. Once that ‘pulse’ is found (the thing that is the very essence of the project) then the rest comes a bit easier.

Some projects are approached a little more creatively than others. For example, sci-fi and fantasy films are usually the most fun as there is a lot of creative elbow room, allowing plenty of opportunities to flex the creative muscles.  On 1873 it was unique in that here we have a steam punk film that is an alternate reality type picture. Part of the essence of steampunk is of course “what if the Industrial revolution occurred earlier in man’s history?” This was a fascinating challenge to me to try and think what direction to go in.  The sky is the limit on films like that because you can score it in many different ways.  I decided to approach it in such a way that would feature music people were familiar with from the 19th Century but ‘jazz it up’ a bit by adding some electronics patterned percussion to give it a more fantasy/modern-futuristic feel. I felt that by grounding the music in familiarity people would feel like they were watching a silent picture from times gone by but with the added modern day elements it would bring in some fantasy elements.

Me: Making a television series, a film, or a short is a team effort. What’s it like working in such a collaboration? 

Terry Huud: Film is collaborative in nature and the music is no different.  I work with all styles of directors, from those that know some music theory and can play an instrument to those that just, well, LOVE music!  For those that play instruments and know theory, we can talk and share the ‘nuts and bolts’ of film scoring, but it’s not mandatory as everyone with a love for music can share their thoughts emotionally. Music affects each and every one of us viscerally, so it is not hard to get a dialogue going with creatives on that level.HOLLYWOOD STUDIO-MAIN ROOM

Me: Silent films seem uniquely suited to showcasing a composer’s talents, though they must come with equally unique challenges. Although there is no audible dialogue to compete with the music, there’s no dialogue to compliment it, either. Do these considerations change how you approach such a project? 

Terry Huud: Yes!  To be quite honest, silent films scare the hell out of me as I, and many artists, are very insecure about what we do.  In a silent film it is just the picture AND the MUSIC.  So much focus is on the music as it is not getting buried in dialogue and sound design that I knew the music had to be special. It has to truly stand on its own as its own entity. It has to play the role of music AND sound design.

Me: Music has always been closely tied to storytelling. Before motion pictures were invented, many of the world’s most famous poems and stories were performed through music. In a film, the music helps guide an audience through a tale and often evokes the most emotion out of any single element. This is a pretty broad question, but as a composer, how do you come to understand and tell a story? 

Terry Huud: I usually look at the film and try and see if it is telling the story the film maker wants to tell.  Sometimes the film falls a little short of what it is trying to convey.  If that is the case, I will look to music and how it can tell any part of the story that may not have gotten across. That can be quite difficult and challenging.  My job is a LOT easier if the story is clear and focused and comes across as intended as then my job is to reinforce what is already on the screen.  Sometimes music can become a second or third character in the movie and tell a sort of subtext to what is going on. That is when things really start to get exciting. But regardless, music is an exciting part of the picture and so far nearly ALL of the directors and producers I’ve worked with say it is one if not THE single most fun aspect for them to sit back and experience for the first time on their project.  It has a capacity to ‘bring to life’ images that they all have been staring at for many months and give a fresh perspective on it.

Me: Are you working on any projects we’ll see in the near future? 

Terry Huud: I am working now on finishing up on a sci-fi film called “Angel”.  It is a very timely picture as it involves a virus strain (Ebola-like) on earth and an extraordinary extraterrestrial visitor who enlists the help of a crippled teenager to stop a shadow government from starting a pandemic that will kill most of the earth’s population. After that, a very odd take on the Zombie genre done by an extraordinary team that is always ‘thinking outside the box.”

For more information about Terry Huud and his music, check out his website or IMDB page.

Flourish 3

Voodoo 2015 Banner 102114

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Skip to toolbar