Todd Haberman, Film And Video Games Composer Exclusive Interview
Todd Haberman talked with Ken Artuz, DecayMag.com Founder, Editor in an
exclusive phone interview. Haberman is a music composer for film, television and video games. According to IMDB.com Haberman began his career in 2000. He also studied under world renowned composer Hans Zimmer.
Over the years Haberman sculpted audio for many Horror, Thriller and Sci-Fi themed projects. If you’re not familiar with the name, without question you have heard of Haberman’s work. Are Syfy’s Warehouse 13, Netflix’s Hemlock Grove, and Transformers Dark of the Moon familiar?
During the interview held on the 9th of August 2016, Todd Haberman’s delved on several topics. Shared were his love, hate relationship with the horror genre and of course, music. Horror and Thriller films released and under development are;
Jeffrey G. Hunt’s Satanic released the 1 July 2016 on Video on demand.
Four friends on their way to Coachella stop off in Los Angeles to tour true-crime occult sites, only to encounter a mysterious young runaway who puts them on a terrifying path to ultimate horror.
Craig Moss’ The Charnel House completed with distribution forthcoming.
After talented architect, Alex Reaves, achieves the impossible – transforming the long- abandoned Fairmont Meat Company slaughterhouse into the ultramodern high-tech Lofts – his family and tenants are faced with a deadly secret that’s patiently spent the past 30 years within the aged brick building.
Matt Eskandari’s 12 Feet Deep in development.
Nora Jane Noone and Alexandra Park, are playing sisters who become trapped under the fiberglass cover of a public pool.
Thank you, Mr. Todd Haberman, for setting the time aside for this interview. From everyone at DecayMag.com, we extend our good wishes for your career and family. We hope the next horror film you see will be a frightening experience.
Below is the Soundcloud link to Todd Haberman’s general music reel. For more information visit Haberman’s official website
Before the interview began, Todd Haberman shared a brief conversation with interviewer Ken Artuz. Shared were laughs and points in a way that can be best summed as two friends talking over lunch. In fact, it was just past lunch time when the phone conference was set in place.
On the other end, Haberman expressed with amicable tonality his hectic schedule. Many are unaware of the high demand for working in Hollywood. Most people in the audience take the medium for granted. These few don’t know the labor intensiveness put though for the films they’re about to see. To that Haberman stated the following;
“It’s a deadline business there is no Monday to Friday or Saturday or Sunday. There is just ge it done on time”.
Haberman noted with comedy the following;
“Sometimes I find it hard to apply Time to walk the dog….”
DecayMag.com With video games and films being two different mediums is there a different approach to composing a piece for interactive entertainment in comparison to film?
Maybe not so much for the very inception of the track. No matter what I’m doing be it a film or a vide game I’m thinking about the emotion I want to portray. Whether it’s a horror.
I recently worked on a video game I did very little music for a friend of mine, Keith Power. it was a game called Warframe. It was a Horror type of score video game.
when I’m starting and I’m sitting down to write I’m thinking “How can I be scary today?”
If it’s a film obviously I have a picture service and I need to pay attention to that. Whereas if it’s a video game it could just say horror loopable action.
I just need to do that one vibe for two minutes and I have to make sure that it can loop so that you don’t even notice it, that it’s only a two-minute piece of music after eight or nine minutes on the same level.
When you’re doing a film and you have the picture to look at the picture is telling you what to do. Whereas I guess in a video game I’m kind of telling myself what to do.
I guess in doing a video game chapter you get in and you get out. It’s two minutes for two minutes whereas like in the middle of a score it could be two minutes in the middle of sixty-eight minutes.
I could just be a little bit of a different frame walking into it looking at the bigger, the massive big picture versus just that one level of a video game.
Honestly, when I’m starting, sitting down to start writing it’s almost no different I’m just thinking what emotion do I need to be doing right now and what’s the best way to do it and how do I feel like doing that today.
DecayMag.com: Having worked on several horror and thriller projects over your career, what is of most importance in composing for this genre as opposed to actions and adventure genres?
Let me think about that for a second. I’m not terribly sure how to answer that honestly. The idea behind what I’m doing is kind of always the same.
Compositionally, I’m coming from the same place. I’m just trying to portray a different feeling.
It really is just about the story needs to be told. If it’s an action there would be a lot more percussion and drums in it, but it doesn’t necessarily change compositionally on how I approach it.
It’s really about what story needs to be told and what’s the best way to tell that story at that time. Action, Adventure films still or at least I hope to have just as much of a story to tell as a Thiller or a Horror.
DecayMag.com: What is the starting process once you have a new assignment. How do you initiate and how does it become the end product.
I tell you what I’ve just been talking to a couple of directors I’ve worked with in the past about doing a film for them. I’m finishing this one film and starting another type of thing. Right now I watched a rough cut of the film.
The directors and I have talked about their vision. Right now I’m listening to a lot of music to find some inspiration. I’m not even writing, I’m not sitting and trying to come with my own ideas.
I’m listening to a lot of music in the same genre just to put my head in that place. Then when I sit down to write I’ll see what comes out.
I’ll probably spend a good week at least just messing around in writing themes and coming up with new and interesting sounds, things to make the score unique to this film.
Maybe it’ll be in this picture, maybe it won’t . In the very beginning, it doesn’t really matter and I’ll send it off to the directors and they’ll give me their reactions.
How they feel the music is going to work with telling the story and we’ll take it from there. Maybe they’ll love it right away, maybe they’ll hate it and I’ll start on the drawing board. Maybe I’ll just have a couple of pictures to have in my head to start scoring the picture.
I think in the beginning I just like to listen to a lot of music that just kind of wrap my head around the world I’m entering.
then I like to spend a lot of time just creating and not putting any pressure on myself to score specific scenes just come up with some good music and just some nice ideas that I think would work well with the picture and then start from there.
I usually watch the movie to three or four times within three or four days just to know the movie well, know where the story changes, know where the pivotal scenes for the characters are, to really understand the film before I start scoring it. I find it to be a huge help.
DecayMag.com: In terms of assignments, Does the medium attract the artist (which is yourself) or does the artist finds interested on the medium when undertaking a new project?
Interesting, you know that’s funny, I’m not a big horror fan when it comes to watching movies I get scared very easily and I blame that on my brother for making me watch Poltergeist when I was way too little.
I really love working on horror films and it’s funny I don’t watch them at all.
I love, love working on them. I got to tell ya, I don’t get scared when I’m scoring a horror film. It is my job to be scary.
I’m watching a scene and it’s just a girl walking down a hallway, then it’s my job to add the fear and make you scared of what might be in that hallway. Then when a big, what do you call that….a surprise happens or a quick cut to some scary thing or whatever or the clown under the bed if you will.
For me, it’s all lined up in my template so it’s 1 ,2,3, 4 scare! 3, 4 scare!
Nothing surprises me. It is my job to do the surprising and scaring and that, I actually really enjoy.
You know it’s funny I don’t really notice it till I have somebody, my kid or a friend come over and they’re sitting on the couch watching what I’m doing and they get totally scared and I’m like ‘oh wow did that scare you?’ I know what’s going to happen,
The explanation triggered laughter between interviewer and interviewee. Imagine the irony of someone that loves to score for horror films but finds terror in viewing it.
Todd Haberman concluded with the following;
It’s funny the first time I watched it, I don’t know what’s going to happen. The very first time I see the film as a rough cut I get scared but it’s usually in a room with four other people and we’re all just kinda hanging out.
It’s a lot different than being on the couch alone a night watching The Blair Witch
The interview morphed into a casual exchange. The interviewer, Ken Artuz noted on playing horror-themed video games. Artuz added how being in a darkened room with headphones on playing a Horror video game is an enhanced experience. This, to which Haberman replied;
Oh my God, I can’t even imagine that. A horror video game with the headphones on in the middle of the night, alone, I can’t even imagine that.
A brief chat on preferred video game followed with Haberman asking;
What kind of games do you play?
Consumed with managing DecayMag.com leaves little time for gaming. Yet, Artuz noted on DeadSpace being the best game for atmospherics, storyline, and music. Solidifying his lack of interest in horror-themed mediums, Haberman replied;
For me its Super Mario Cart, I recently got the Wii U and Super Mario 3D world, that’s the way to go. I’ll keep the scaring at work.
DecayMag.com: Two Part question, the video game community hold music scores in high regard, for example, the wall street journal wrote a piece titled How Videogames Are Saving the Symphony Orchestra.
- Do you think video games industry will be the next platform to showcase music compositions?
I think it has been for a while now. I don’t know if it’s up and coming. I love hearing that they are recording more scores. I think that’s fantastic especially when it seems like films are recording less.
Whatever is out there to get musicians work I’m all in favor for it.
I really enjoy working on video game scores. I know a lot of top tier talents are doing it. It’s not like they’re left around for the interns or anything. I think it’s terrific.
- Do you believe there may be a point in the future decline of importance/appreciation for film score?
That’s very interesting. No, I think its only on the rise right now, I don’t think it’s going down.
You see guys like Hans Zimmer just did a European tour, Bryan Tyler just did some shows in London. I know in LA. Chris Martinez has ben doing some shows around.
I think film scores, film composers are on the rise. As popular musicians in general which I think is incredibly exciting.
I don’t know if it proves my point you know when James Horner died it seems to me the people I know on Facebook, a lot of people who I would have thought are not in the know seem to recognize that he was the composer from titanic.
It was like ‘oh so sad, I remember loving this movie. So sad the composer died’ Just to show how it was on the rise from people who aren’t even close to that world.
Growing up I don’t remember anybody ever mentioning anything about a composer. I think as a composer the popularity is on the rise. I hope it stays.
DecayMag.com:You just finished completion on the horror film Satanic, directed by Jeffrey Hunt?
Yes, It just came out on Itunes.
DecayMag.com: You also worked on the thriller, The Charnel House, correct?
Yes, that was a really, really great movie I’m excited about I wish I had more news for you. I just heard last week that it got a distribution deal but I don’t know where and when. Unfortunately,
I can’t tell you anything about it. It will get out there, I’m very excited about that.
It’s really great thriller from director Craig Moss who I’ve worked with on the Bad Ass Trilogy with Danny Trejo.
Craig and I did a couple of spoofs film together as well. The Charnel House is a real serious thriller and its really really good and I’m very excited for it to get out there.
DecayMag.com: For Horror what projects are you currently working on that you can share some insight on?
No Horror, I’m finishing a Thriller called 12 feet deep, or at least I think that’s the title it was called The Deep End for one time. I think it changed to 12 feet deep I can’t be certain. I think they’re finishing up this thriller right now, finishing the last few cuts.
It’s a really great film about a couple of girls who are trapped in a pool underneath a fiberglass top that covers the pool and they are trapped with a foot of air.
It’s Thanksgiving weekend and no one is going to be there for four days. So if they don’t get out they’ll most likely die. It’s a really great thriller.
It was a lot of film to have scored, it was so well made it was a really great movie to work on. It was my job to no get in the way.
The movie does a really great job of the performances, of course, are fantastic and it’s shot really well, it’s edited well.
everything about it stays really well and it was so much fun to write a score for just adding another great layer to that film was a lot of fun and director Matt Eskandari did a fantastic job.
I’m absolutely excited for this one to get out there.