By Red Hot Producer Paul Heck
**Update: This post originally ran on February 2nd, 2012, but with nation-wide screenings beginning next week (more on that Monday!), we wanted to share this again.
About 8 months ago, David France and Joy Tomchin, the director and executive producer of the film “How To Survive A Plague,” came to meet with us at the Red Hot offices. We had an idea of what their film was about (the early days of AIDS Activism) and did not really know what they wanted from us, but we were happy to meet with them to see what was up.
David spoke about the film and showed us a 10 minute selection of cuts from the film. We were all so blown away by the story they were trying to tell and the eloquence of their approach, that we agreed on the spot to do whatever we could to help them with the film. This lead to Red Hot becoming the Music Supervisors on the film. Beco Dranoff, John Carlin, and myself teamed up to address different aspects of the job.
A part of our approach to the job was to introduce David and his team to the music of Arthur Russell, a cellist/composer who lived in NYC and made beautiful experimental and diverse music in the 1970s and 80s, before dying from AIDS related causes in 1992. Our idea was to have Arthur Russell’s songs act as a musical voice in the film, as he was a gay man living in downtown Manhattan in exactly the same time frame covered in the film. David and his team started to get into Arthur’s music and began to see the expressive potential for weaving Arthur’s songs into the film. Red Hot reached out to our friends, composers Stuart Bogie and Luke O’Malley, to work on the original film score and to reinterpret different Arthur Russell songs so they could fit into the fabric of the film. Stuart, Luke, and members of their band, Superhuman Happiness, worked together with us to come up with new versions of Arthur Russell songs. Songs like “That’s Us/Wild Combination” and “Keeping Up,” appear thematically through out the film. Also in a stroke of great luck and timing, we were able to have Kronos Quartet record some original arrangements written for the film by Stuart and Luke. All in all we had an incredible time working with the whole “How To Survive A Plague” team — and are incredibly proud to be a part of this powerful film.
*Update: We are elated to announce that ‘How To Survive A Plague’ by David France was chosen by Sundance Selects at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival!