Composer James Horner Exclusive Interview – Titanic Live / Avatar Sequels



well nothing to meet you thirsty James I just wondering I mean to start off with it must have been an incredible quite uplifting experience to be there last night and to see that amount of people's all worshiping their the subject new composed you know it was humbling it was magical for me I don't often get in my world it's a very especially with my personality I'm very private and I don't go to premieres and public things so I never really get a sense of what an audience thinks about the music or about a film I'm on to the next project and I hope for the best so it's humbling in a way to see so many people obviously moved by the experience seeing the orchestra live I guess seeing me seeing the filmmakers there that's sort of magical you know and I think it's magical for the filmmakers as well because Jim and John Jim Cameron and John Landau a director and producer of the film also never experienced that kind of reaction there I don't think they saw the movie since it first came out did it allow you to appreciate the film in a way that you you never have before no I appreciated the film from the very moment I first saw it nothing changed so when you compose the music for a film are you still able to watch it and immerse yourself in the story like any audience member would yeah I get the same emotional buttons that were pushed on me or that I pushed when I wrote the music I experienced again last night I never say to myself gosh I wish I had done it different lay or I wish I had done this or that when it left me whatever it was 17 years ago it was shipped and I felt great about it as a composition and as a film we never knew how the film would turn out whether it be successful but I liked what I had done and tap see it again last night with such a reaction is sort of wonderful you know it's a vindication yes it's funny what do you think it is then about about Titanic as a movie then they can still draw an audience it's almost 20 years after it first came out was so special about this particular film I think unlike a lot of special-effects movies that have been made today or that have been made which tend to be stunning sonic visual spectacles they actually for the most part have a very short shelf life they're brilliant they're famous Masters of the Universe for three weeks and then the next thing comes along and bumps them off the shelf and they're masters of the universe for three weeks or whatever these films are and the thing about Titanic is it's sort of a timeless story and I think it's so emotional that it doesn't really have a shelf life and having taken place in 1912 it's timeless for even audiences today there's nothing dated about it and I think that it still works emotionally as a long-term story you know Romeo and Juliet on a sinking ship you know it's it's what cinemas made to portray how important is it for you to emotionally connected a story to be able to to craft that perfect sound I mean obviously you've been a part of the Avatar franchise as well which is it's very far away it's not human tail but do you still connect to fit on a human level to being handsome absolutely you have to and you have to make an audience connect to it on a human level so even though they're beings in some weird world you still have to touch people's hearts to make it work cinematically it can't just be a special-effects movie that then it becomes a three week wander it has to be something that's deeper and whether it's avatar or whatever it is it has to touch people at that level because the avatar given is love it is so especially face do you need to have seen a fair amount of the footage and to understand what what Jim and John are kind of trying to achieve to be able to craft that sound or can you go on or conversations and the screenplay I tell you it in in Titanic I had I watched 32 hours of film because Jim was still shooting he hadn't had time to edit the film so what he had done is he had taken all this sort of best takes of each scene and there may be three or four great takes and stuck them all together so there were multiples of each scene that he had shot and it ended up being watching the movie for three days so you're immersed in the acting everything avatar completely different it's in the world of CGI and in that world actors are in black costumes with computer sensors on them and you're watching something that you have to totally take their storytelling because you're watching people dodging things on grey boxes in black jumpsuits with dots on them that had nothing to do with what it's going to end up looking like or how emotional you have to make that magic in your head and rely on their storytelling and that's I guess part of what my craft is is being able to do that abstractly and not have a visual to refer to it must help matters tremendously when you're working with jimin and john who have got such a vision so meticulous in their preparation yes I mean that must make that process and laser focus that's they know exactly what they're after whether it's from me or the actors and no matter how abstract they know what they're after I do work with a lot of directors who don't know exactly what they're after and that's much more difficult because I'll get an impression from the film and I'll think the scenes a wonderful scene and they have a movie problem with it and they think it's slow and they want to cut it and I said no no if you cut it it'll change the whole thing and they don't they don't they can't grasp the bigger picture they're really it's very interesting how different filmmakers are I mean regards to South avatar to remedies or new character themes you've been kind of adapting or using the kind of Pandora's famed for new kind of locations and then planets must be must be quite an enjoyable process I haven't actually started writing anything for have a tattoo we've discussed abstract ideas I know where the story is going I know who's going to be in the story I know that different worlds will be experienced from the first one I know that they're going to want me to move forward but having said that I have to relate it all to where we've been so that there's some place to go from I don't want to start from a clean slate nor do they I have to pull from some of the stuff I already established and expand on it and make Newsday responses to John Landau he confirmed the loss of humans again in the seek was wondering you compose any scenes or back on earth and if so is that easier to get your head around because it's a world that you know and understand yourself not necessarily and Jim may not want me to necessarily treat it that way be that literal he may want to just give a banal example he may want to have the Earth's music represented by some whatever weird contemporary pop commercial radio music there is at that point in time as opposed to score and a score might super impose itself on that I don't know what Jim's vision will be for how he might portray the various places that are in Avatar – a lot of it will take place underwater which is a completely different environment and I've seen some of the stuff and it's stunning all I can say is you've never seen that before and you know just from Jim's previous work how much he's stretching himself to make something he's never done before and that is what he's always doing he's always pushing the envelope and he's always expecting everybody who works with him to do the same thing oh it has toilet leash the boundaries of cinema do you almost try and push yourselves to the very limit of how far you could yeah and Jim I try and push I'm always I'm probably ever so slightly past Jim's comfort level sometimes and he pulls me back towards comfortable I'm much more experimental than he gives me the freedom to be it's just my nature and he reels me back a little bit and then I push him one of the big things of Titanic was his previous movie to attack to Titanic was true lies so here you have one of your classic whatever that kind of movie would be comedy semi comedy action yeah facts movie you know hugely successful here he's launched into a movie telling historic and historical story a love story it's a world he's not explored before he's on new ground and that was what was so great about working with him it was ground I was very comfortable in I knew what his comfort levels were he didn't want an old-fashioned movie he didn't want a song in the movie anything that made it in his interpretation old-fashioned I was to avoid including he gave me a dictum no violence in my movie now you can obviously take that at face value but he sort of meant I don't want this to be old-fashioned and that was very important and so I'm always pushing Jim and he's sort of always pushing me and we you sort of find a marriage of where you're both comfortable of course there's the soul a show of the avatar coming soon as I have you been involved in that process at all the what I'm say suck the soul a the circus oh no no I haven't been involved they have their own schedule their own world they're not interested in anything Jim has to offer or I in terms of what they're doing at least at this point they just want the licensing to have the rights to showing the Navi people doing aerobatic routines and all of that and Jim has to sign off on that but beyond that input there's not a lot from us how about the the kind of Avatar theme park in Disneyland have you been intimately involved with that it's that particular attraction your most of looking forward to opening that you want to ride yourself it's not so much that it's its historical I've never been I've never done anything like this before neither has Disney they've met this is the biggest thing they've ever done on a physical level and I've been all over it and they're planning on building this recreation including the floating mountains with the waterfalls it's unbelievable what they're trying to achieve physically that in cinema in CGI is so easy and they're trying to achieve it physically and having this being part of this theme park I never thought I'd been doing something like that is sort of extraordinary and they're trying to recreate the world of Pandora in this massive world they've built and I'm doing the music for that and I mean in regards to the avatar – of course you say you haven't got started just yet but I mean there any kind of new characters that you're looking forward to kind of exploring that and I mean can we expect to see perhaps a jaqen that every child or any kind of new additions to the Navi raise I didn't know what I'm allowed to say I'm very I'm being very cautious because they don't want to let anything out of the bag and I don't know that much quite honestly I've read some treatments and I've seen tons and tons of arc work you know which is the only thing that's been generated so far but you know there will be probably additions to cast members and cast members returning as Navi and it's you know you only have to sort of read in the magazines of who's in the movie to sort of deduce you know what characters might be reprised and what characters might not but it will be a continuation of the story for sure enjoy tended to be involved by up until the end of other tile for you're gonna be doing the whole back-to-back tree if I last that long it's pretty much we talked about that last night right now Jim has a script that's he's got he's trying to can he's got four sequels script wise and he's trying to make it into three and that is where I think his effort is going right now to keep it to three sequels because he's got so much going on how do you keep it from expanding into let yet a fourth movie a fifth movie I guess total and he'll get that sorted out but it's you know in my world I have a I have to remember that I've got other commitments and other things I want to do in Jim's world this is his focus for the rest of his life and it's sort of sobering in a way because it will take him a good part of his professional life to finish all four or five movies four movies you know and he has the vision of doing all the shooting getting that done for the three movies and then doing post-production and releasing each movie every year but I know how Jim works I know how the process works in post I now have the effects come in I know how we dubbed the movie all the effects and dialogue and music it's going to be a really tricky and we're gonna be hard pressed to produce a movie every year so just finally fake you each if there's any chance you might just give it and go for five movies you never know I don't know it depends on whether he feels I guess whether he's making too much of a compromise or I think I don't know what's viable you know it depends on how number 2 goes you know number 2 may go up in a flash and then number 3 and 4 becoming you know superfluous I don't think that's going to happen but by the time movie 2 comes out movie 3 comes out we're talking about possible frame rates of a hundred and twenty you know all kinds of different technical mumbo-jumbo that might be there you know I think the next movie will be shorted 48 frames and 4k but I don't know I mean you certainly the next movie after that may jump and it may open up a whole new technical paint box for Jim to shoot as I said he's always pushing the outside of the envelope one of the things of Titanic was the equipment wasn't ready one of the things of Avatar the equipment wasn't ready the story was ready the equipment wasn't ready I think now the equipment's ready for Avatar 2 stories not quite ready avatar 3 the equipment's not ready so he's right at the edge and he lucky that's the way he works thank you so much to a time says I'll just be a welcome it's a pleasure watching hey you guys hey you guys how you guys is that from the Goonies

25 thoughts on “Composer James Horner Exclusive Interview – Titanic Live / Avatar Sequels

  1. I hope they can find someone with as good an emotional grasp as Horner for Avatar 2 now he's gone. Avatar was a fairly predictable film but the music pulled me in and swept me along emotionally. It would be a shame if the sequel fails to grab audiences due to the lack of Horner's music.

    And please James Cameron, don't use Michael Giacchino. He seems to be the go to guy in Hollywood for knocking out scores superficially in the style of better composers but lacking all the subtly and nuance that made them great.

  2. I feel there's no point going on with avatar 2 anymore. Makes me so sad hearing Horners plans in this video, but will not be able to create it 🙁

  3. You can tell implicitly that this fellow was such a nice guy…. Wish I could have met him, if only in quick passing.

  4. May "James First Flight" on a Banshee into the sky last forever as its wingtip wakes drift down from on high to our ears for us to enjoy forever.  Fly James Fly.

  5. R.I.P Mr.Horner =( that's not fair! We lost one of our talent in a Plane Crash in the 90s and now this…

  6. Jack Horner was Jewish and was born in Los Angeles in 1953, the son of Joan Ruth (Frankel) and Harry Horner. His father was a set designer and occasional art-directorwho was born in Czechoslovakia, and came to the United States in 1935. Z'l.

  7. Avatar 2 needs a big shoulder to support Avatar 3 & 4. I’d like to think way back when Matrix 2 was so overblown to be a vey successful sequel but only to be let down, and when Matrix 3 rolled in it kinda lost its audiences. But I feel J.C. knows what he’s doing when it comes to sequels and the pros and cons of building a franchise, because almost everyone from Disney to Cirque du Soleil are depending on its success.

  8. I was there!!!!  😀
    What a fantastic night.  One of my favorite films and favorite scores.  I'm glad Horner could be there, even if he wasn't able to conduct.

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