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Smoke, Mirrors, Music, Movies

I finally got to series five of Breaking Bad (yeah, I know, two years after you did) and realised there are officially only two degrees of separation between me and Walter White. Todd, the new recruit to Walter’s meth squad (and who shoots the little boy after they rip off the cargo train), is played by Jesse Plemons who was the male lead in Meeting Spencer, a US Indie I scored a few years ago. *

My connection with Jesse is to do with the song ‘If I’ve Got You‘ which I was commissioned to write and which got me involved in the film.

If you find all the behind the scenes technical stuff about films and music really boring, stop reading now and skip to the video below.Still here? Ok, a few weeks before they started to shoot, my publisher Randall Wixen asked if I could write a song for the Spencer character to perform in a pivotal scene. I love this sort of thing. It was the same deal with L A Noire – a tight deadline and songs that need to be about a character rather than about yourself (which is cool as I find I have less and less to say on the latter subject).After a couple of false starts and some back-and-forthing over the lyrics, I delivered.  The next thing was to get a version with Jesse singing it.  In the scene, his character performs at a piano in a restaurant. Jesse doesn’t play piano, so I sang a version in London with me playing and sent it to LA in bits so they could replace my vocal with his. The issue in the studio there was that naturally, he was finding it difficult to sing with any vibe to my pre-recorded piano part. To prevent it sounding wooden, he wanted to sing it whilst he played guitar.  This done, they sent his vocal and guitar parts back to me, I removed the guitar and played a new piano part to his vocal – with a solo. Still with me? Then I sent the final recording back to LA and he mimed to it whilst they shot the scene. As he doesn’t play, they shot someone else’s hands during the piano solo..

Ah, the magic, the smoke and the mirrors of movies.**

Click for more of our music in films

And check out this if you want to hear what the song sounded like with Jesse on guitar before I took over on the ivories..

*For trivia fans, another of the the Meeting Spencer cast, Mark Harelik, plays Walt’s doctor in Season Three of Breaking Bad. Arrested Development’s Jeffrey Tambor and Batman Begin’s Melinda McGraw also starred.
**In Meeting Spencer, Jesse’s character is an aspiring ingenue who has played supporting roles but by the end is bound for stardom. Sounds like it all worked out in real life too. After his success as a psycho in Breaking Bad, he is rumoured to be taking the lead role in the next Star Wars movie.
Jesse