I recently scored a short film The Stain which played at the Norris Theater at USC. The story is simple – three survivors in a post-apocalyptic city need to get to a hospital. The woman has caught the contagion, and her boyfriend ends up sacrificing himself while failing to save her.

Right after the screening I watched the pilot of The Walking Dead, and  I noticed post-apocalypse stories often have a similar structure. Namely, characters must journey from A to B and there are obstacles along the way.

B is usually a safe place where civilization is rebuilding. The threats en route can be bandits or zombies (or both). In The Book of Eli, Legend, or even The Road Warrior, you find these elements time and again. Sometimes the journey involves finding lost family members.

The genre is sort of a morally-deconstructed update of the Western, in that the characters have to rely on each other to survive. Classic Westerns seemed to have clearly-defined good guys, bad guys, and ideas about justice. The post-apocalyptic stories have on worlds where moral structure has collapsed – zombies are neither good nor evil, they’re simply a threat and it’s a mercy to kill them anyway. This difference seems to fit a world where people feel unmoored and like things are out of their control.

The Stain was filmed in LA and centers on a contagion virus, so I wrote a very heavy and industrial sound to go with the empty urban landscape. Here are 2 cues: the first contains percussion made of trash metals and a machine pulse. The second is about lost hope, built from a simple keyboard line but layered repeatedly through a dozen different sounds to create the feeling of a brutal and unsympathetic universe.

It’s not exactly holiday season music, but what they hey…enjoy!

Posted 5 years ago by John Piscitello

Add your comment