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Trent Reznor wants to get closer to movies

September 28, 2010 |  6:25 pm

Reznor
Trent Reznor, the dark mastermind behind Nine Inch Nails, has long aspired to score a feature film. So when he got a call last fall from director David Fincher -- who had used NIN music in "Seven" -– the rock star naturally assumed the assignment would lead to some scary places.

He was right. Fincher was eager to use Reznor’s unsettling soundscapes for “The Social Network,” the Friday  release that is being met with mostly enthusiastic reviews. "In all honesty, when David mentioned it was a movie about the founding of Facebook, I was like, 'What the...,' " Reznor recalled with a chuckle. "I wondered how that could be interesting, but, knowing the level of excellence and integrity he brings to everything, I got the script from him. And then it became clear."

What Reznor saw was a vibrant tale of "the human condition and greed and entitlement." The film is now indeed moving to the center of the cultural conversation, and it’s doing so with the backbeat of Reznor’s music, which always demands attention but is especially intriguing in this new career context. Reznor worked with longtime collaborator Atticus Ross on the 19-track soundtrack, which was released in digital form Tuesday and will hit stores on CD, audio-only Blu-ray and vinyl in October.

 In an unusual move for a studio film, the soundtrack album will be released through Reznor’s own label, Null Corp., as opposed to a major label. The musician, who has a history of posting music for free on his website and criticizing labels for their pricing practices, even finds himself in partnership with Amazon, which is selling the digital version of the album for $2.99 for a limited time. On Tuesday, the soundtrack was No. 1 on the merchant site’s bestselling album downloads. “As much as I hate the corporate partner idea, for this particular case it felt right,” Reznor said. (The artist, incidentally, is getting more involved with Hollywood, as an HBO series based on his "Year Zero" multi-media concept moves forward.)

Reznor had worked with Fincher before -– the “Fight Club” filmmaker directed the Nine Inch Nails music video “Only” in 2005 – but he doubted this was the best time to reunite. “It is [Aaron] Sorkin’s script,  so it’s a lot of people talking in rooms and there is a lot of technical talk and after reading it I wasn’t sure how it would become a watchable, entertaining film,” Reznor said. “It wasn’t the obvious type of film that you would imagine David Fincher would be attracted to.”

So, last fall, Reznor, who had also gotten married recently and had promised his wife he would be stepping back from the mad crush of work, called Fincher back and declined. "And of course it gnawed away at me," Reznor says. "I got back in touch with him in late winter or early spring and apologized again and asked him to keep me in mind in the future [on other projects] and he said, ‘No, what are you talking about, you’re doing this one.’ ”

Reznor dropped by Fincher’s edit bay and, in short order, took on the challenge. Reznor is candid about being a dictator of his own artistic path, but he says it was a rare respite to be in service of someone else’s project. Fincher didn’t want an orchestral score. He wanted something that would have the shimmer, shiver and thump of Reznor’s electronic-anchored soundscapes. “David has a very clear vision of what he wants and then opens up that template to make it what you think is right,” Reznor said. “At the first rough cut screening, it became clear to me what the film needed, which was to darken the mood a bit."

The music that Reznor and Ross compiled over a few weeks was quickly diced and draped across the film by Fincher, and the first scoring process of Reznor’s career was startlingly fast and painless. “I was amazed by that. There was no meddling by the studio Darth Vader types. The experience has been exceptional and, I fear, not the usual experience. But I’m up for more.”

-- Geoff Boucher

Photo: Trent Reznor at the Hollywood Palladium last year. Credit: Ann Johansson/For The Times


 
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Happy to see that the process went well for Trent. Hope he does more in the future!

Intensely collaborative enterprises like music and film are miraculous because they require not only individual creativity from each artist; there's also the melding and shaping of visions into a bigger whole. That's cooperation. It softens the ego of each and expands the horizon by allowing the influence of another's respected view. Enormous talents like Reznor and Fincher demonstrate how well this can be done and are the personification of art's core value: communication. We do it and admire it (art), because it's proof that we can have meaningful conversations amongst ourselves, even with widely different experiences and aspirations.


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