It’s Halloween and a good scare is in the works. Studio Theatre, Perth is premiering the 1922 horror flick Nosferatu with an original score composed by Perth local musician Mark Bailey.
“I started working on a score for Nosferatu about a year and a half ago, as a bucket list project,” said Bailey, adding that writing a score for a movie was a lot more challenging than he initially imagined.
After a few initial attempts, Bailey took five months off from composing, to study how to write a score – to work with the visuals; the characters; and the mood while giving the visuals the space to unfold.
“I learned more as a musician from this experience than all previous experiences,” said Bailey, and that’s saying something for a man who arranged and played music at most major performance venues in the world.
Bailey is a recognized composer with original compositions published by Carl Fischer in New York, and Southern Music Company in San Antonio, Texas. A professional trumpet player, he played in the Central Band of the Canadian Armed Forces and arranged music for the band for 22 years.
The resulting score is a sensitive sweeping soundtrack that sounds like a 60 piece orchestra, but is actually mostly computer generated.
“It has sound effects and melodramatic moments, scary chords, and themes for each character,” said Bailey.
The movie, Nosferatu is a German Expressionist horror film directed by F.W. Morneau. It is considered by some to be one of the silent era’s most influential masterpieces. Based on Bram Stoker’s novel, Dracula, published in 1897 it was sued for copy write infringement by the Stoker estate shortly after it’s release in the U.S. and the courts ordered all copies of the movie burned. Luckily a few survived though most of the original score by Hans Erdman was lost. Since then several well known composers have written their own versions, but this is the premiere of Bailey’s score.
The timing couldn’t have been better. Bailey wanted to show his movie and the Studio Theatre, reeling from months of shutdown, needed a fundraiser.
“There are few new films being released right now, so it was really exciting when we were approached by Mark Bailey with an opportunity to show Nonfatal, set to his original score – and in terms of timeliness, well, Halloween made it happen!” said Kat Watering-Ellis, chair of the promotions committee.
Studio Theatre, Perth is an entirely volunteer operated theatre that leases space. Months of closure and restricted re-opening have limited the theatre’s ability to generate revenue. Unable to put on live shows the theatre re-opened with movies, but observing social distancing means fewer people and lower if any revenue, while the day-to-day expenses keep piling up.
“Our lease comes up for renewal in April, and unless we can raise enough funds before that, we won’t be in a position to renew,” said Watring-Ellis.
The movie will be shown twice on Halloween night. The first screening will be at 6:30 p.m. with a second screening at 9 p.m. at the Studio Theatre. There will be a third screening on Nov 1, at 2 p.m. Each screening will begin with a short introduction by Mark Bailey.
“I just want to see how people react to the score,” concludes Bailey.
If for any reason you can’t make it to this Studio Theatre’s fundraising event, but still want to support the theatre, there is now a donation page at https://www.studiotheatreperth.com. Tax receipts will be emailed to donors