Music grew from a supporting player to a starring role

Originally intended as seasoning sprinkled modestly throughout “Tron: Legacy,” Daft Punk’s adventurous score quickly grew from a supporting player to a starring role, with the finished film featuring wall-to-wall music.

First-time director Joseph Kosinski’s “vision initially was to have (the music) be more of a minimal thing, have greater spaces,” music supervisor Jason Bentley recalls. “The way it turned out, it worked better if there was more of a prominence of music. That revealed itself in the process.”

With its electronic, futuristic synthetic sound, Daft Punk — the French duo composed of Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter — seemed the perfect fit for the sequel to the 1982 cult classic, “Tron.”

“They’ve been trading on the aesthetic of ‘Tron’ for some time,” Bentley says of the space-age, helmet-wearing pair, who did not respond to interview requests, maintaining their air of mystery.

The twosome were Kosinski’s first choice for the movie, but it took a fair amount of courting to convince them. “They’re just really careful and meticulous about their process,” Bentley says. “They really took their time. But it was worth it. It was a huge commitment for them. There was no touring and no recording” during the two-year process.

Once Daft Punk signed on, Bentley took them around to meet with top composers, including Hans Zimmer and John Powell, to see if they wanted to combine efforts, especially since other than a small art house film scored by Bangalter, they had never composed for a film before, much less orchestrated one.

“It would have been legitimate if they’d said they wanted to partner with Hans or John — they would have probably put Disney at ease — but Daft Punk said after all these meetings, ‘We want to do what these guys do. We want to build a studio and not miss a minute of this process.’ They were like sponges,” Bentley says.

The music supervisor then surrounded them with all the resources they needed, including music editors, tech support, an orchestrator and a conductor. “They all served the vision and ideas of Daft Punk,” Bentley says.

The studio’s confidence in the musicians grew as Disney witnessed the Internet excitement over Daft Punk’s involvement. “It was interesting to see Disney coming (around) to see who they had on their hands,” Bentley says. “Initially they were quite nervous. A simple Google (search) that came back with as many things about Daft Punk (scoring) as about a sequel was an indication it was a pretty good decision.”

Instead of scoring to picture per usual, Daft Punk began submitting demos to Kosinski as he was shooting. He and the story editor would take the music and fit it to specific scenes.

“Daft Punk didn’t have the picture until quite a bit later,” Bentley says. “Once they did, they were able to finish things.” Kosinski had music so early he never used a temp score. A side benefit: He played Daft Punk’s cues on set to help get the actors into character.

Daft Punk’s music complements the sound effects, weaving out of scenes like the all-important flying memory discs and roaring lightcycles. “(Kosinski) set up meetings before the film was shot and was making those introductions so the composers and sound designers at Skywalker were communicating,” says Bentley. “It goes to the point of having ‘Tron: Legacy’ be an immersive filmgoing experience.”


Get more from Eye on the Oscars: Music:
Music branch can’t please all the people | Song category hangs by thread | Daft Punk immersed in ‘Tron’ | Songs in contention
Contenders:
Michael Brook | Carter Burwell | Danny Elfman | Grizzly Bear | Jan Kaczmarek | Rachel Portman | Anton Sanko

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