Netflix - Godless : Carlos Rafael Rivera Interview
Par Mulder, Los Angeles, le 27.11.2017
Godless is an American television drama series created by Scott Frank for Netflix.
The seven-episode limited series was released on Netflix globally on November 22, 2017.
Q: Can you make a short presentation about your background before becoming a composer?
Carlos Rafael Rivera : I began taking piano lessons when I was six, and stopped. When I was eleven, I began to study classical guitar. But as I turned thirteen, Randy Rhoads became the reason I decided to play electric guitar. I remember smiling uncontrollably when I first heard his solo for “Revelation (Mother Earth),” the next to last track on Ozzy Osbourne’s Diary of a Madman album. “The day I am able to play it note by note,” I thought, “I will be an amazing guitarist!” And after a few years, that fateful day came…but something unexpected happened. As soon as I’d nailed the last note in that solo, I was overwhelmed with the realization that I had not written it. Although I had mastered the notes, they were not truly mine. It was then that my attention would gravitate to writing music.
Q: What is for you the main duty of a good composer?
Carlos Rafael Rivera : To help realize the director’s vision in telling their story through music.
Q: What can you tell us about the new television drama series created by Scott Frank, Godless nextly on Netflix ?
Carlos Rafael Rivera : Godless is an epic Western that Scott has developed over many years. I’ve known of the screenplay for over 12 years, and was thrilled to see the story expanded into this mini-series. One cannot ask for a bigger canvas to write on - Scott has given me seven and half hours to tell story - and even above so - strong characters to underscore.
Q: What must be for you the purpose of a great score and how do you found a powerful inspiration to create this music?
Carlos Rafael Rivera : At its best, a great score not only supports the storytelling, but also stands on its own. The biggest inspiration for Godless was found in Scott’s fantastic writing. He is truly one of the great storytellers of our time, and some of the scenes were so vividly detailed that I wrote music immediately after reading the script.
Q: What is for you the main difficulties that you have met during the creation of the Godless score ?
Carlos Rafael Rivera : Managing the scope of the project. It was like scoring three films. Keeping track of themes and using them in a fashion that balanced their presence against the overall arc of the story.
Q: Which influences Randy Newman has on your music and on your process of creation of this one ?
Carlos Rafael Rivera : His sense of Melody and structure is always an education. Having attended his recording sessions when I mentored with him, I learned a lot about how to behave around the orchestra, as well as producers and directors, in order to have productive experiences.
Q: You have already worked with Scott Frank on the great movie A Walk Among the Tombstones . Can you tell us for the main differences between to work on a movie or a serie ?
Carlos Rafael Rivera : Having worked with Scott Frank on both of these projects, the difference was mainly that by Godless, we developed a shorthand, where I was better at translating Scott’s story telling intentions through music. On both projects I also performed many of the instruments, which gives them a handmade sort of feel. Scott and I also have a somewhat unorthodox approach, in that He will usually send me the screenplay, and the music I initially write is to the written word, not picture. This sets the initial tone and helps us realize what doesn’t work. I make what we call “Script Movies,” where I create a quicktime of the screenplay, set at a reading pace, and score the scene. It can be very effective in finding the pace of the music, and undoubtedly helped us in some of Godless’ set pieces.
Q: On which instruments have you created the score of this serie Godless ?
Carlos Rafael Rivera : The main essence of the score is based on classical guitar with cello. I also used an organ and harmonium to set tone. This intimate setting was the core for most of the writing, and served as contrast when orchestral forces were required.
Q: Where have you recorded this score and for you which is your favorite studio ?
Carlos Rafael Rivera : I played and recorded all the guitars and keyboard in my home studio in Miami. The main cello, wonderfully performed by Joy Adams, was recorded in her studio in Colorado. Most everything else we recorded with the Budapest Art Orchestra, which performed fantastically.
Q: Why for you a link between a director and a composer is very important ?
Carlos Rafael Rivera : It is everything, I feel. Music adds an intangible element to the director's vision. If a clear communication - and trust - is established between director and composer, it motivates bolder choices and decisions in the story telling.
Q: Which are your favorite series actually and why ?
Carlos Rafael Rivera : Game of Thrones, because it was the first series where I felt a cinematic sensibility that visually raised the standard for what episodic television can be.
Q: What do you think about the process of releasing of Netflix a serie all episods in once ?
Carlos Rafael Rivera : It is awesome, as it empowers the audience by giving them the choice as to when to enjoy the content.
Q: Would you like to work with some french directors and which ones ?
Carlos Rafael Rivera : Olivier Nakache & Éric Toledano, Éric Lartigau
Q: Can you talk at all about your recent projects?
Carlos Rafael Rivera : My dream job would be to score Rian Johnson’s next Star Wars Trilogy, or James Cameron’s upcoming Avatar films. But I am sure I am not the only one with these aspirations. I do know how lucky I have been to collaborate with such amazing folks as Scott, as well as executive music producer T Bone Burnett, editor Michelle Tesoro, Sound Designers Wylie Stateman, Eric Hoehne, and producers such as Casey Silver and Steven Soderbergh in telling the story of Godless!
Notorious criminal Frank Griffin (Jeff Daniels) and his gang of outlaws are on a mission of revenge against Roy Goode (Jack O’Connell), a son-like protégé who betrayed the brotherhood. While on the run, Roy seeks refuge with hardened widower Alice Fletcher (Michelle Dockery), an outcast herself, in a worn-down, isolated mining town of La Belle, NM -- governed mainly by women. When word reaches La Belle that Griffin is headed their way, the town bands together to defend against the murderous gang in a lawless western frontier.
Created by Scott Frank, Steven Soderbergh
Written by and directed by Scott Frank
Starring Jack O'Connell, Michelle Dockery, Scoot McNairy, Merritt Wever, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Tantoo Cardinal, Kim Coates, Sam Waterston, Jeff Daniels
Music by Carlos Rafael Rivera
Country of origin : United States
No. of seasons 1
No. of episodes 7
Executive producers: Scott Frank, Steven Soderbergh, Casey Silver
Producers : Jessica Levin, Michael Malone
Locations: Santa Fe, New Mexico
Cinematography Steven Meizler
Editor: Michelle Tesoro
Running time : 41–80 minutes
Production companies: Casey Silver Productions, 765 Flitcraft, Ltd.
Original network : Netflix
Original release : November 22, 2017
We sincerely thank Carlos Rafael Rivera for answering our questions
An huge thanks to Beth Krakower for helping us to have this great interview