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Human composer sets tone for anticipated Sci-Fi drama District 9
12-Aug-2009 -

Film composer Clinton Shorter scores District 9,
produced by Peter Jackson and directed by Neill
Blomkamp. The film, based on Blomkamp’s short film,
Alive in Joburg, centers on the fallout caused by a
group of alien refugees stranded on Earth (in
Johannesburg) and forced into a segregation camp
(the title comes from District 6, a former inner-city
residential area in Cape Town infamous for the
forced removal of 60,000 residents in the 70s by
the Apartheid regime).
The film blends documentary style with traditional
shooting techniques. Shorter, recently named by
Hollywood Reporter “Next Generation of Film
Composers to Watch,” has worked with the director
on several projects, “I had worked with Neill
[Blomkamp] over the years on his commercials and
short films. When he called in late 2008 and asked
me if I'd score his first feature I was all over it.”
For District 9, Shorter collaborated closely with
Blomkamp, “I spent the first several weeks
experimenting with every African instrument I
could think of. Neill was really pushing me to give
the score an African sound; it was quite a task to
maintain an African feel but give the film the
darkness and edge it required. We incorporated
African male vocals with some percussion from
the region combined with other elements.
With “District 9,” I knew from the beginning that
I was going to go with more of a hybrid score of
live and synthesized instruments. Without giving
too much away there's a "mutation" of sorts in
the film and I wanted to have that mirrored in
the music” Shorter also scored the short film
which was the impedus of the feature but,
as the composer said, “For the short, we hired
a singer and used various orchestral libraries.
The sound for the feature is quite different.”
"I had known Neill for a few years leading up to
that short. A friend of mine worked at the same
CG house that he was working at, Neill was only
22 at the time but everyone at the office could
see the talent and felt one day he would be a
super star." Shorter says. 

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