Co-written and co-directed by Peter Rosati and Dominic Rodriquez, Bad Kids is the story of seven boys who leave home (for unknown reasons) and set off (to an unknown destination) in search of adventure. The short film follows the group for three days as they build campfires, play various games and kill for their dinner. Because of the subject matter and the whole feel of how the film is shot, Bad Kids reminds me of films such as Lord of The Flies and Stand By Me. As well as directing, various members of the Rosati family are involved in other areas of the film’s production (for example, young actor Shebl Rosati plays Trevor, one of the main characters in the film). Young composer, Jacob Rosati, supplies a score that emphasises – as the composer himself says – “organic tones” i.e., the use of live instruments (e.g., acoustic guitar), hand-clapping, vocals and naturally-sounding percussion (e.g., drums). This emphasis suits the “back-to-nature” feel of the film.
The score is divided musically into two halves and mirrors the structure of the film. The film starts off as a “Boys’ Own” adventure, with outdoor camping and games (many may have to check Wikipedia for a definition of this phrase) but it then takes a turn two-thirds of the way through as a tragedy strikes the group. The album opens with “Lead Foots” (a reference to the name the group calls themselves), and there’s an instant sense of positive emotions in the music, reflecting the enthusiasm with which the boys begin their adventure. Spirited drums, drumstick hits and hand-clapping instil an immediate energy to the cue and the inclusion of an upbeat riff on guitars adds optimism together with a carefree feel. This exuberance continues into the second track, “Fruit Fight”, where – if anything – the enjoyment factor in the music is ratcheted up a notch as the group of boys are momentarily children again and just having fun (throwing papier-mâché fruit at one another).
That’s the first half of the score. But then things take a different path as the feel of the film changes and the boys’ actions leads to tragic consequences. Unfortunately, the score suffers because of this change in emphasis away from the out-and-out optimism of the first couple of tracks. Most of the remaining tracks dispense with this sense of adventure and enthusiasm, to be replaced with cues that are more introverted, focusing more on using electronic motives and tones as well as the electronic modulation of instruments. A sense that the reality of what they have done is beginning to sink in with the group now takes over the score. For example, “The Deer” uses a repeating electronic motif that’s somewhat grating when we see the boys make their first kill for food, and electronically-modulated percussion and an unsettling dreamy electronic soundscape is heard in “Trevor’s Dream” when one of the boys (Trevor) has a dream that appears to be suggesting that he is now having second thoughts about their plan.
A significant portion of the film goes unscored, including the tragic scene. It is this scene that acts to focus the group’s mind back to recapturing the enthusiasm for the adventure they felt at the beginning of the film. Rather than disheartening them, the tragedy spurs them on with new resolve. The final track of the score, “The Bad Kids”, reflects this rekindled resolve with an energetic rhythm first heard in “Lead Foots” and “Fruit Fights”, but this time the use of wordless male vocals as one of the main elements of the “orchestration” (additional elements are clicking fingers, hand clapping as well as guitar) works to tone down the enthusiasm and adding a sense of maturity to the group. They seem to have learnt a valuable life-lesson.
The album of Jacob Rosati’s music for Bad Kids is listed as being “music written for and inspired by the film”. The majority of the tracks featured in this release are contained within the film but some seem to be pieces that were either written for inclusion in the film but were not used (for example, “Skaggs’ Theme”) or were featured as only short segments which are extended to longer tracks for inclusion on the album (”Running”). These tracks are featured at the end of the running time as “bonus” tracks after “The Bad Kids”. Rosati’s score is – like the film – an entity of two halves: one that is immensely enjoyable but the other, unfortunately, not quite so great to listen to. It’s easy to enjoy tracks such as “Lead Foots” and “Fruit Fight” because of their exuberance and they are great examples of how the composer likes to use “organic tones” (he feels that these sounds “naturally connect with people in a specific way”). But the tracks that feature the more electronically-generated tones, may deliver what is required by the story, but as a standalone listening experience they are easily skipable. Bad Kids is available to hear and purchase at the composer’s Bandcamp page and the entire short film can be viewed HERE.
- Lead Foots (1:27)
- Fruit Fight (2:27)
- The Deer (1:10)
- Trevor’s Dream (1:17)
- The Bad Kids (1:38)
- Steppin’ In (Bonus) (2:06)
- Skaggs’ Theme (Bonus) (1:25)
- Running (Bonus) (1:57)
Running Time: 13:31
Jacob Rosati (2011)