Annecy Exclusive: The Frogs Chant

Folimage presented a preview (the first 23 minutes) of RAINING CATS AND FROGS, one of the most awaited film events for the end of the year, on June 7, 2003 at Annecy. In this report from Annecy, Andre Joassin interviewed soundtrack composer Serge Besset, about working with the director, Jacques-Rémy Girerd on the film.

Besset has been writing music scores for Girerds films since 1984. Their collaboration now runs extremely smoothly. "We dont need many words to communicate," said Besset. "I know what he likes and what he doesnt. Jacques likes the oboe, rather rhythmic music, and if I were to define the scores for his films, I would say that they express the idea of space, hence a choice of quite 'wide' music."

"For RAINING CATS AND FROGS, we used a symphonic orchestra of 67 musicians plus a few traditional instruments hurdy-gurdy, Armenian duduk, bagpipes, Indian sitar and accordion to give a certain color to the music," Besset added.

The composer sees the new Folimage production as a variation on Noahs Ark, with a special interest in the tension and struggle for power within the floating zoo. There is humor in the film, but the story is mainly dramatic. Terrible things happen on board.

Girerd deals with soundtracks in a very personal way, according to Besset "He wants to have the music ready as soon as the always very detailed storyboards are started. Even the voices are decided on. In CATS AND FROGS, there are Michel Piccoli and Anouk Grimbergs, among others. Even if preliminary instructions are really precise, scenes change as the film is being made. The length changes and the music for the film must be extremely precise, so we have to adapt the themes. This is the most time-consuming. The composition and execution of the score took two years."

How does this filmmaker from Valence feel, having reached the end of his greatest adventure since the creation of Folimage, as far as financing, aesthetics and workload are concerned?

Besset said, "In making the features I think we benefited from beginners luck. Everybody got involved with professionalism and a desire to go beyond what is seen in the film. I have often heard feature film directors say that a film loses its strength in the long process of its production. On the contrary, we were under the impression that it was becoming more and more powerful as we went along. The result has exceeded all my expectations."

This article was first published on June 7, 2003 in LE QUOTIDIEN #6, a publication of the International Animated Film Centre. For more information on this and other events at Annecy, go to www.annecy.org.

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