For composer Gabriel Hays, the new CG film’s merging of fairy tale and spy thriller storytelling let him explore themes of uncertainty, adventure, and discovery to create a score that is fun, whimsical, and has heart.
Composer Gabriel Hays has shared with AWN three behind-the-scenes videos of orchestral performances for the new Netflix CG animated feature, Secret Magic Control Agency, which begins streaming tomorrow, March 25. In the film, Hansel and Gretel become top agents for the Department of Magical Security after escaping the Witch’s gingerbread house.
The new Wizart Animation feature merges “fantasy fairy tale” and “spy mystery” storytelling, which provided a unique challenge for Hays, known for his scores on series like Disney’s Star Darlings and Cartoon Network’s We Bare Bears. While spy music is typically mysterious, with serious swagger, fantasy connotes more mystical feelings, otherworldly, often epic in scale.
Yet Hays pulled from both seemingly disparate genre traditions to compose a fitting score for the film. He found that both types of music shared some commonalities – a sense of uncertainty, but also adventure and discovery, themes which easily lent themselves to this modern take on classic characters: fun, whimsy, and heart.
"As a fan of classic spy movies and great fantasy movies - as well as their scores - I was quite drawn to the blending of the two genres in Secret Magic Control Agency,” Hays explains. “It’s pretty unexplored territory. From a musical perspective, I was excited to figure out how to blend the swagger of spy movies with the whimsy of fairytales. I had a lot of fun pulling them together.”
He adds, “The extra twist that I was especially excited about was that the top agent at the SMCA was Gretel. I mean seriously, what’s cooler than a female secret agent? My two daughters would certainly agree. Until we get a Jane Bond, we have Gretel at the SMCA."
Take a few minutes to enjoy Hays’ musical composition work:
Clip: Secret Magic Control Agency
"This cue best encapsulates the blend of the secret agents energy with fairytale whimsy and magic."
Clip: Back at the SMCA
"We feel the grandeur and promise of the SMCA in this cue. Simply put, this agency kicks butt!"
Clip: Looking at You Not Kid
"This is all about the journey Hansel and Gretel have together. The adventures they go on and how they come together.”
Dan Sarto is Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Animation World Network.