SECOND QUARTER QUELL – James Schafer


Original Review by Alan Rogers

The Hunger Games Trilogy is a series of young-adult science novels written by Suzanne Collins and published between 2008-2010. Set in an unidentified future, a number of children (aged between 12 and 18) participate in the “Hunger Games” and must fight to the death until only one remains (Battle Royale anyone?). Perhaps set to become the next Twilight in terms of popularity amongst young adults, film company Lions Gate are plan to release a film adaptation in 2012. Mainstay Productions – an company that writes, produces, shoots and edits what appear to be short films – have produced a 12-minute film based on the so-called Second Quarter Quell (described in the second book of the trilogy). Apparently, a Quarter Quell is a special version of the Hunger Games that takes place every 25 years.

Composer James Schafer (winner of the 2007 Turner Classic Movies’ Young Film Composers Competition), whose credits include composing additional music on numerous video games, score synth programmer to Christopher Young on Spider-Man 3 and The Uninvited and sole composer of the recently released feature Joseph Smith – Vol. 1: Plates of Gold, has composed an enjoyable score for Second Quarter Quell. Central to the score is the 4-minute cue “Haymitch and Maysilee” which introduces a memorable theme that recurs several times throughout the score. Also featuring acoustic guitar and a light drum percussion, “Haymitch and Maysilee” supports the characters’ journey across the battle arena countryside. Over this attractive framework, the theme is passed between horns and strings and as the cue progresses you can almost hear the bond between these individuals who have been thrown together into the deadly situation that is the Hunger Games. Both “Final Fight” and “End Credits” feature this theme prominently and interest is maintained by the use of various instrument combinations. 

The other main component of the score is the use of percussive elements and varying rhythm patterns for the fight sequences (e.g., “Three Against One” and “Final Fight”). While not as interesting from a melodic standpoint (save for the appearance of the theme heard in “Haymitch and Maysilee” in “Final Fight”), the constant variations of the rhythmic patterns keeps these percussive tracks enjoyable.

Watching Second Quarter Quell you can’t help but notice how well produced this short film is. There are some beautifully-realised shots and James Schafer’s 11-minute score adds significantly to the production values with a score of good quality that is a lot more listenable than a lot of music that is being produced for bigger-budget films. Only a couple of times in the score does the instruments sound as though they electronically generated (e.g., the horns that begin “Maysilee’s Death”) but other than that it is difficult to tell whether the instruments are live or electronically generated (damn digital releases for not supplying any liner notes!). Second Quarter Quell is a short score and, on a minute-by-minute basis, may be slightly too expensive for just 11 minutes of music (although this album is not the same price as a “full album”). But, I would certainly recommend Schafer’s over several full-album releases that have disappointed in 2011. The film Second Quarter Quell is relatively easy to find on the internet to watch. Take a look, and if you like Schafer’s contributions to the film then his album can be found at the usual online digital stores.

Note from James Schafer: “…the whole score is all computer-generated (minus the guitars and most of the drums). It is a mix of orchestral and electronic synth…” Thanks to James for the clarification.

Audio samples can be found HERE and then click on arrow next to running time for samples of entire album or individual tracks.

Rating: ***

  1. I Want To Go Home (1:15)
  2. Three Against One (1:48)
  3. Haymitch and Maysilee (3:59)
  4. Maysilee’s Death (0:46)
  5. Final Fight (1:57)
  6. End Credits (1:12)

Running Time: 10:58

Catapult (2011)

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