Movies, Soundtracks, Scoring, and Clementines.

Clementine is the directorial debut of writer/director Lara Jean Gallagher, which made its world premiere at the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival, achieved distribution with Oscilloscope Laboratories, and can now be streamed online here. In addition to this film’s success, its soundtrack will be released on Feb 22, which we are more than excited to have played a part in. To learn more about Clementine and the music behind it, we spoke with writer/director, Lara Jean Gallagher.

Marmoset: Hey Lara! Tell me about yourself. Where are you based these days and what are you excited about?

Lara: I made the move to Los Angeles early last year with the idea of being able to move back and forth between LA and Portland for work and for fun. The pandemic has made that impossible up to this point, but I’m still hopeful that that will be my reality soon enough! I’ve mostly been writing this past year. I have a couple projects in the works that I am really excited about and hope to make one as my second feature as soon as possible! I also started teaching for the first time this past fall. Even though it’s all been remote, I’ve really been enjoying it. It’s been sort of rejuvenating to be looking back and trying to teach what I know at a time of such uncertainty in the industry. 

Writer/Director of Clementine: Lara Jean Gallagher

Let’s go back to the days of writing Clementine. What were you feeling music-wise? What bands or songs were you locked into that said “this is how I want Clementine to feel”?

I actually made a playlist back in our crowdfunding days if you want to hear!

I was really into melancholy, pensive, female indie bands at the time like Palehound and Waxahatchee. The writing was really about dredging up a lot of feelings I had surrounding a break up that inspired this script, so I was listening to old mixes from that time period and sort of trying to trigger myself, for better or for worse! 

What about scoring? What did you learn working with Katy Jarzebowski? What was the process like working with her?

For the score, I always really wanted it to meld with the sound design. I felt like that would be another way I could try to align the audience with the main character (KAREN). It’s a pretty interior movie and Karen is really isolated, so I wanted to try and be in her ears as well as her shoes. I learned SO MUCH from Katy. She is absolutely brilliant. We really connected on the idea of the score being inspired by the environment and she just blew my mind with a Youtube playlist of instruments I had never even heard of as well as unconventional/experimental ways to play them. Since music isn’t my first language by any means, I’ve struggled with scoring in the past but Katy was incredibly patient, enthusiastic and inspiring. I dream of meeting collaborators as passionate about their part of the process as I am about mine. I feel like I have a true partner in Katy — someone who is as driven and invested in getting it right as me. 

While placing the songs you licensed up against the picture, were there any unexpected moments or surprises? 

It’s always amazing to me how much music playing in the background of a scene can just make it feel so much more real and grounded. This happened in the scene when Karen picks Lana up and you can hear music coming from the house as well as in the scene when Karen goes to the country store. It seems like a small thing, but these choices really rounded out the world and allowed me to sketch out who these characters are even if you barely see them. Late in the process, we ended up placing a second Lighting Dust song over a really quiet, intimate scene. That one still gets me. I love the song so much and I think it really elevates the emotion in that scene. I’m so thrilled that we were able to use music from this band that has been so important to me over the years. 

There’s a karaoke scene at a Dive Bar where Karen’s vision plays tricks on her, and you chose the song “Boxer” by Portland band Lovers for this moment. Tell me what brought you to choosing that song and what you were looking for music-wise before you found “Boxer”.

We shot the scene in a way that would allow us to figure out the right song in post production. This allowed us to be really open about what this song could be and get to try out a ton of different stuff.The team at Marmoset did a pull for us, which included “Boxer.” I actually have this album and was already a fan, so I was really excited about this pick. Lyrically, it worked really well and was a nice moment to add in some local texture and intrigue as opposed to a really mainstream song that you’d expect to hear at a small town karaoke bar. 

What advice would you give to young filmmakers out there who are just starting out? Maybe something you wish you knew when you were younger?

I think I’d say just to go for it. If you’re waiting for all of this funding or support or gatekeepers to give you permission to make your movie, you’re probably going to be waiting a really long time, or most likely, forever. If you really feel like you have a story to tell, you have to just figure out a way to do it, no matter what and sooner rather than later. There’s always more to learn, but there’s really no better way to learn than by doing it, and doing it your own way. 

You can learn more about Clementine here and more about Lara Jean Gallagher here.

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