Composer Dominic Lewis scored the recently released film Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween. The live-action horror comedy premiered on October 12th and stars Wendi McLendon-Covey, Madison Iseman, Chris Parnell, and Ken Jeong.
Lewis is also scoring Season 3 of Amazon’s Emmy-winning series, The Man in the High Castle, which returned on October 5th. His work on the show’s first two seasons earned him two BMI Streaming Media Awards. After studying cello and music composition at the Royal Academy of Music in London, he was mentored by Rupert Gregson-Williams and later worked with Hans Zimmer, John Powell and Henry Jackman. Here, he details his work on
Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween, including themes, instrumentation and his recording set up.
Post: How many music cues did you create, and what are their ranges in lengths?
Dominic Lewis: “There were 63 cues, two of which were completely Danny Elman — the main title and the end title credits. The other cues ranged from :20 to eight or nine minutes.”
Post: What instrumentation and themes were you working with for this project?
Lewis: “We already had Danny Elman’s Goosebumps theme, which I wanted to use. Then I wrote a theme for Slappy, which sort of had two parts. It has the creepy element of it, which is made up of detuned pianos, celeste, harp and glockenspiel. Then we have these weird string effects riding up and down the strings.
Actress Wendi McLendon-Covey & composer Dominic Lewis
“I also wrote a march for him, when he’s sort of the ringleader of all the Halloween ghosts, goblins, ghouls and monsters. The march gives him more gravitas and that’s made up of lots of low stings, bassoon and brass with sort of scurrying high string parts and woodwind parts with blaring horn and trumpet melodies.
“My Halloween theme has a celeste for the more creepy sort of things. Then it evolves into high woodwinds to make it more magical and spritely.
“I did a big sweeping version of that on strings with lots of scurrying woodwinds. It also could be played on low brass for something threatening. The score is very traditional orchestral music. I wanted to pay homage to the action. Other than the detuned pianos, there’s not that many weird instruments in there.”
Post: What is your studio set-up? Can you describe your recording equipment?
Lewis: “In my studio, I have two rooms, I have a live room and a writing room. For my equipment, I use Cubase to write on and Pro Tools for recording and mixing, and this is also where I look at the picture if I’m writing to picture. Then, for recording, I use a limited edition 414 mic, four 1073s, and I have tons of instruments that I record with. Everything from Wurlitzers to cellos to different percussion stuff. I have 20 guitars, a 1964 Gibson cello, a sitar, lots of acoustic guitars, tons of percussion, a mandolin, anything you could possibly want to work on.”
Post: What was the timeframe to complete your work on Goosebumps 2?
Lewis: “All in all, is was about two-and-a-half months. I didn’t get picture until about two weeks before I was supposed to be recording. I originally had the recording made earlier. After various previews, the picture changed drastically, so I had to rewrite some stuff because it no longer fit the picture or scenes were swapped around and it didn’t make sense anymore. There’s a lot of extra work once the picture is cut.”
Post: So you relied on picture, rather than just creating music beds?
Lewis: “I’m always scoring to the picture. When I’m coming up with themes at the beginning of the project, there won’t be any picture and I’ll create a suite of ideas or themes. I’ll play that for the director to see if they like it and then if the theme is approved I’ll move on to writing until I get picture.”