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Back Lot Music: "STILLWATER" music by Mychael Danna


Back Lot Music has released the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack of Focus Features’ thriller Stillwater directed by Academy Award® winner Tom McCarthy (Spotlight) and starring Academy Award® winner Matt Damon.  The Stillwater (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) with an original score by Academy Award® winner Mychael Danna (Life of Pi) is available at all digital music platforms. Stillwater will be available at home on demand for a 48-hour rental period beginning Friday, August 20, 2021.
 
Stillwater follows an American oil-rig roughneck from Oklahoma who travels to Marseille to visit his estranged daughter who is in prison for a murder she claims she did not commit. Confronted with language barriers, cultural differences, and a complicated legal system, Bill makes it his personal mission to exonerate his daughter.
 
Stillwater has a screenplay by Thomas Bidegain, Noé Debré, Tom McCarthy, Marcus Hinchey.  Matt Damon is joined by co-stars Academy Award® nominee Abigail Breslin and Camille Cottin.  Steve Golin, Tom McCarthy, Jonathan King, and Liza Chasin are producing.
 
McCarthy’s outsized artistic reputation and commitment to excellence helped draw composer Mychael Danna to the project.  Together, the pair discussed creating a score for the film that would enhance the emotional resonance of the narrative, while also speaking directly to the specifics of the transformative journey that Bill (played by Matt Damon) undergoes. “Tom and I worked hard to design a score that subtly envelops and submerges us, along with Bill, in –what is for him—an unknown, unfamiliar world,” Danna says.
 
Known for incorporating electronic elements into the scores he composes, Danna took a similar approach to Stillwater.  For the early U.S.-set scenes, guitars and drums predominate yet when Bill finds himself in Marseille, it’s traditional North African music – embellished with electronic sounds –that comes to the fore to mirror the vibrancy of the French city.  “The film is a sophisticated thriller in the provocative setting of a clash of cultures: conservative America and the very multicultural south of France,” Danna says.  “Virtually all the action occurs in Marseilles, but Bill begins the story very much imbedded in his own culture, that of a conservative Oklahoma oil rig worker, and brings that with him to Marseilles.  Soon, the very different sounds of a very different world begin to creep into his life and into the score,” continued Danna.
 
The emotional heart of the story, however, is reflected in the sounds of piano and a string orchestra (the orchestral portions of the score were recorded at London’s famed Abbey Road studios).  Yet the instrumentation never feels heavy-handed – rather Danna’s compositions remain very much in keeping with the understated, naturalistic feeling McCarthy evokes in Stillwater.  “As to be expected with Tom’s writing, the story has no easy resolution, no easy ending that can be defined as happy or sad,” Danna says.  “I feel that the score was able to convey this nuanced almost fable-like ending, which in my opinion is a quality of the very best films,” says Danna.
 
MYCHAEL DANNA is an Academy Award-winning film composer recognized for his evocative blending of non-western traditions with orchestral and electronic music. His body of work includes his Oscar-winning score for Ang Lee’s “Life of Pi” following his collaborations with Lee on “The Ice Storm” (1997) and “Ride with the Devil” (1999).   Danna also received the 2013 Golden Globe Award for “Life of Pi.”

His passion for presenting complex ideas in a musically accessible way began as Danna learned his craft at the University of Toronto. There, he was exposed to early and world music that later influenced his style. Danna earned the school’s inaugural Glenn Gould Composition Award in 1985 and also began scoring for student theatre groups, as he launched his artistic partnership with Canadian director Atom Egoyan.
 
His other celebrated collaborations include those with Bennett Miller on his multiple Oscar-nominee “Moneyball,” in 2011 and his Oscar-winning drama “Capote,” in 2005; with Terry Gilliam on his Oscar-nominated “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus,” in 2009 and “Tideland,” in 2005; with Mira Nair on “Vanity Fair,” in 2004, “Monsoon Wedding,” in 2001 and “Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love,” in 1996; and with Billy Ray on “Breach,” in 2007 and “Shattered Glass,” in 2003. Danna’s credits also include the 2006 Oscar-winning “Little Miss Sunshine,” for which he shared a Grammy Award nomination for Best Compilation Soundtrack Album; Marc Webb’s acclaimed romantic comedy “(500) Days of Summer” in 2009; and James Mangold’s 1999 Oscar-winning film “Girl, Interrupted.”
 
For television, Mychael won the Emmy Award for Outstanding Music Composition for a Miniseries, Movie or Special (Original Dramatic Score) for “World Without End” (2013).  Mychael and Jeff Danna wrote the original music for the Margaret Atwood dramatization of “Alias Grace” for Netflix for which they were Emmy nominated in 2018.  In addition, Mychael was  Emmy nominated in 2018 for “The Last Tycoon” for Outstanding Original Main Title Theme Music.  Mychael and Jeff Danna also wrote the music for the FX series “Tyrant,” which earned them Emmy nominations for Outstanding Music Composition for a Series (Original Dramatic Score) and Outstanding Original Main Title Theme Music in 2015. They were Emmy-nominated for “Camelot” in 2011.  

Mychael Danna and Jeff Danna wrote the score for Pixar’s animated feature “The Good Dinosaur” in 2015 and received an Annie nomination for their music.  Mychael scored the Oscar-nominated short preceding the film, “Sanjay’s Super Team.”  The Danna brothers continued their collaboration on the score for “Storks” for Warner Animation Group, and on the Oscar nominated animated film “The Breadwinner,” for which they were Annie nominated for their original score, and won the best original music award from the Annecy International Animation Film Festival in France.  Mychael and Jeff Danna also scored the animated feature “The Addams Family” and Disney and Pixar’s Oscar nominated animated feature “Onward” which opened in theaters on March 6, 2020 and for which they received an Annie nomination for Best Music – Feature.

Among Mychael’s other awards are the Frederick Loewe Award for Film Composing (2013), the World Soundtrack Awards for Film Composer of the Year, and Best Score of the Year (both 2013), and the Hollywood Film Award for Composer of the Year (2016).
 
Jeremy [Six Strings]

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