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Jens Grotzschel creates Kilmer's sonic clone in The Super
Composer Jens Grotzschel took an odd approach to creating the music around Val Kilmer's unsettling character in the film The Super.

The music which Jens Grotzschel created for The Super proves two notions; that the creepiness of Val Kilmer's performance in this film can be magnified and that the composer's signature unusual approach is making him a much sought after composer on the international stage. That's an ironic turn of phrase considering Jens rebuked a promising career as a contemporary musician in a number of bands in his native Germany to pursue his "rockstar" dream of supplying the music to augment TV and film productions. Grotzschel's work with colleague Stephan Schulzki (whose contributions also appear in The Super) on Stephan Rick thriller The Dark Side of the Moon, attracted the attention of producers Brett Forbes and Patrick Rizzotti who hired him for The Super. Kilmer's haunting performance prompted the film's producers to find music that offered something truly unusual; the final result overwhelmingly vets their decision in composers.

Written by John J. McLaughlin (BAFTA nominee for Best Original Screenplay for Black Swan) and starring Val Kilmer (award winning actor and star of The DoorsThe Salton SeaTop Gun),

The Super is the suspenseful tale of a former police officer turned superintendent (played by Patrick John Flueger) who moves into a Manhattan high-rise with his young daughter. When tenants begin disappearing, he suspects Walter [Kilmer]. The building's maintenance man who speaks of mystical spells and possesses an unusual personality, Walter is odd enough to be suspicious but his true intentions are unclear. The Super plays into the collective fear of how far we can truly trust someone who literally has the keys to our safety.

Jens in a very literal sense took his inspiration from Kilmer's character. Walter lives in the basement and works with the piping/infrastructure of the building. The composer went to his toolbox of actual tools and began fashioning his own musical instrument from them. Drills, Jigsaws, segmented plastic tubes, and other practical tools became sonic communicators of melody and percussion. Metal bowls of various sizes and cello were also utilized and then altered with an effects program called Kontakt. In the same way that the director, actors, and other film professionals strive to deliver something perfectly tailored to each production, Jens is adamant in his desire to do the same. While he doesn't rebuke the use of sound libraries, whenever possible and appropriate this composer prefers to create the perfectly matched musical personality for a story. He enjoys the challenge of this. Grotzschel recalls, "Once a director asked me 'Surely you are composing music all the time in preparation for any project that might come up and then taking these little bricks from your own library and making them fit for whichever project, right?' to which I replied, 'How should that work? Do I use same music bricks for different films? That wouldn't even work for me if the movies were in the same genre!'  To work in that way is not how I understand my professionā€¦and it would be pretty boring." No better example of this ethos in Jens work exists than the "tubephone" he created for The Super. Comprised of plastic hoses like those found in a common kitchen sink, the tubephone is played by beating on one side and offers different pitches for a quirky melodic tuning.

The unusual and unfamiliar is a vital part of the film and the music. Kilmer's presentation of Walter vacillates between simply odd and potentially disturbed. He strolls around in a blue mechanic suit while working on unseen or unusual items, mumbling and speaking in some foreign language. One of his walls is populated with old pictures of children and he is often seen praying. Jens created a motif for Walter played on four metal bowls, an intentionally vague instrument for this character.

Explaining his unique approach best, Grotzschel relates, "There is a scene at the beginning of the film, before the main titles, where Violet's favourite teacher is killed. These opening minutes are an introduction to the story and the genre. It's an opportunity to set the tone for the movie.

I was responsible for the first part, to give some atmosphere and build up the tension. There is a shadow and his subjective view when the camera slides behind the corner of the room.

The score is reduced here, very subtle. There is a noise I created for the shadow which is a combination between synth and recordings of breathing with my mouth and playing with its resonance. I pitched it a bit lower to give it more weight. There are pads in the background from my Alesis Andromeda A6 to bring a bit of atmosphere. This is in hard contrast to the close up on the pen sharpener, which comes loud and harsh. Quite eerie pads and noises accompany the teacher walking down the hallway, the light goes out, and weird things seem to happen." The vast majority of his creation is the antithesis of traditional, yet it is true to its mark in cultivating the appropriate emotional tone. The Super looks and sounds uncomfortableā€¦in a magnificent way.

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