By Dov Kornits and Travis Johnson

Fresh off scoring duties for Foxtel’s new take on Picnic at Hanging Rock, acclaimed Australian composer Cesary Skubiszewski (The Rage in Placid Lake, Beneath Hill 60) will be providing the score for A Long Night, the new film from writer/director Alex Lykos (Alex & Eve).

Lykos himself stars as Arthur, a fledgling actor wracked with OCD and insomnia who suffers through a surreal night of self-analysis as he grapples with his crush/obsession with the beautiful Helen (Chantelle Barry).

We caught up with Lykos for a few quick questions.

How did Cesary Skubiszewski come on board?

Being a low-budget romantic-comedy, (very different to Alex & Eve), initially my plan was to use very little music. But as the edit came together, I began experimenting with some music, and laid some jazz over some of the scenes and felt like the music complimented the pictures quite well. I researched experienced film composers who had previously composed a jazz score and when I listened to Cesary’s film scores, I just loved them. So I reached out to him, showed him the rough cut and he really liked it. I was very nervous when I first called him, but he is a humble man and from the first phone conversation we just got on really well — I just knew immediately he was the right composer for this film.

You’re working on a micro budget, is that something that was attractive to Cesary?

I came to the arts later in life. I used to play tennis up until my mid twenties. And my coach had a saying glued to the door of the locker room. It was: FIND A WAY OR MAKE ONE. Cesary is looking forward to composing a jazz score especially because this is quite a quirky romantic-comedy and jazz music is not commonly done on Aussie films.

What sort of cues will you be looking for him to take with the score?

A Long Night is about a man who is going through a “single man’s mid-life crisis” and has an inner critic (Mal Kennard) who drives him mad. When I had my first spotting session with Cesary, it was quite eye-opening to see him demonstrate how, for example, music can highlight the chaos in the main character’s head or heighten the tension between Arthur and the left side of his brain. It was certainly an education for me and just to see how music can lift a scene, and in certain instances, accentuate the comedy, was quite exciting.

Did he come to you with any particular ideas?

Absolutely. For example, he laid four very different styles of sample jazz over the opening scene, and each piece of music gave the scene a completely different interpretation. He immediately took me out of my comfort zone and opened me to a myriad of possibilities.

Another example: there is a farcical masturbation scene in the film and I didn’t imagine music for the scene, but again, he quickly put something together to demonstrate how the comedy could be enhanced with music, and it was just really impressive to see.

He reinforced the importance of a score that is personal to the character of this film.

How important do you think the score is to a feature film?

In a drama, definitely the score is very important. With A Long Night being a low budget comedy, I thought that perhaps I could get away with minimal music. But as myself and the editor (Miriana Marusic), started laying some temporary tracks on the film during the picture edit, I began to see the added dimension the music was bringing to the film. And since I began working with Cesary, I now see the endless possibilities.

Have you got any faves of his?

Probably The Rage In Placid Lake, Two Hands, and Beneath Hill 60, just to name a few.

Where are you at with A Long Night?

Picture is locked-off which is a bit scary as I can’t edit the picture any more and I am a tinkerer — for all our stage shows we put on (at Sydney’s Bulldog Theatre Company), I would tinker every day during the run. The Post Sound team are cleaning up the sound and of course Cesary has begun work on the film score. We are scheduled to complete the film by end of June/early July. Then we will start submitting the film to international film festivals starting with Venice and Toronto.

Image: Alex Lykos and Cesary Skubiszewski


Leave a Reply