Schmoozing in LA – Part 2: OUTLANDER Preview
So, Sony was previewing all of their new shows (eight in all, I think, and I don’t recall all the names) this week for international (i.e., non-US) buyers. Each day had a different slate of buyers to view the shows (Latin America, Africa/MiddleEast/Europe, etc.), and every evening had a mix of fairly high-up tv executives from different countries for cocktails and dinner.
Every day save today, OUTLANDER was fairly late on the schedule, so Ron and I would arrive around 3, and depending on how far behind schedule the shows were running (there’s some friction, given that some up-front interviews run longer than others), we might go on by 3:30 or 4:00. We’d be in the green room just before our time, and then follow one of the stage-hands (they thoughtfully shining a light on the floor so we could see what we were about to step on, and not trip over anything or miss a step). A technician back-stage (a very narrow, dark space, with a small cart stocked with cordless microphones and other useful items) would hand us each a mic and we’d stand there, listening while the audience saw a quick trailer for “Outlander” (from the sounds of it, it was either the same one y’all have seen lately, or something quite similar; music from “Last of the Mohicans”). Then the moderator would introduce us and we’d walk out and take our places: there were three tall director’s chairs set up onstage at the side of the screen (a regular movie-theater-sized screen), and the interview would be televised onto the screen itself (and onto the TV in the green room as well, for the edification of anyone waiting in there to go on next).
The interview was short, about ten minutes, and pretty much The Usual: What attracted you to the material? (Ron) Did you have any concerns about having Outlander translated to film? (Me. Answer: Hell, yes…) How would the story evolve over the season? (Ron. Meaning they wanted to know how much of a book or books would be covered in a season, how many episodes, etc.) How did I come to write Outlander? (Me – quick reprise of Dr. Who/man in a kilt story), etc.
Then we’d wave and walk off, and they’d start running the full first episode of the show. The first day we did this, I rather shyly said I’d like to watch the episode; I’d seen it, but not in its final form, with color corrections and score. Of course! They said, and obligingly brought me up the metal stairs to the top of the theater (the seating area looked very solid, but was evidently made of portable stuff like stadium seating; it wasn’t built into the building), where I paused for a moment.
The show was just starting, with Bear McCreary’s theme song/lead-in—I probably shouldn’t tell you what it was <g>, but I liked it very much. A different take on a well-known Scottish traditional song, let’s put it that way…
Ron had come up the stairs with me, presumably to see what I thought of the opening, as he wasn’t staying. We stood there watching the lead-in, and when there was a shot of Claire’s hands reaching for the flowers at the foot of the standing stone, I turned to him and said, “You got them!” (He and Maril had asked me, some months earlier, if I knew exactly what the flowers were, and if it was important that they be _that_ sort of flower. I told them I did, and it was—but only if they filmed all the way through the last book. He said they’d go on the assumption that they would.)
He grinned and hugged me, then went off about his own business and I found a seat and watched the whole thing, rapt.
They had made a few small changes to the first episode since the last cut I’d seen, but nothing major. It flowed beautifully, starting with the quick scene that Ron had described to me more than year ago, of Claire in a French military hospital (a bombed-out building), splattered with blood and working frantically to save a man, then coming out to find that peace has been declared. On to 1946 and a roadster with two laughing people, wind in their hair as they drive through the Scottish Highlands…
The major change, though, was the music. The previous cuts I’d seen had had temporary, sort of generic TV-music. This one had Bear McCreary’s score, and it was fabulous. Very atmospheric, by turns subtle and visceral, using (as is his wont) traditional instruments like tin whistle and bodhran.
He tweeted to me today, to congratulate me on MOBY, and I replied “The same to you, man! LOVED the music! (The whole theater shook when you hit the bodhrans—the thunder shook my bones.)” Which he was kind enough to say was “a wonderful review of my score! Can’t wait for the whole world to see this…”
Neither can I. You’re gonna love it. <g>