Thank you Orville Stoeber for taking some time out of your busy schedule to chat with LSJTD.net.
Just to update and inform readers, you are quite a multi skilled artist. You have composed music for various
films, you're a singer songwriter with two jazz influenced CD's ("Whispering Roots" 2000, "My Fatal Flaw"
2005), an actor ("Weeds" 1987, "Mouse Hunt" 1997 , "Switchback" 1997) and been involved in theatre. That
How did you become involved with the film "Let's Scare Jessica To Death"?
I met John (1969) while working at the American Place Theatre in a production of Boy On The Straight-Back Chair a theatrical musical that he was
subsequently fired from; he later hired me to write the short film Sticky My Fingers Fleet My Feet that was nominated for an Oscar in I believe 1971.
What were your experiences like working with director John D. Hancock?
John has a big ego like all directors, and he was very hands-on, he practically had to be there when I was writing the main themes. I would sit with
him with just my guitar and try out melodies until I came up with one that he liked.
Where you involved with the other actors/actress's in the film eg: Zohra Lampert, Mariclare Costello?
Mariclare came to my small apt in the village and I taught her “Stay Forever My Love”. I met Zohra during editing and I had worked with Kevin O’
Connor in the theatre. I eventually met all the cast members because John liked to use the same actors in his other films.
Do you see much of the cast members or John these days?
I still am in contact with John and frequently contribute to his current projects.
How did you decide on the type of music for Let's Scare Jessica To Death?
I’m an instinctive writer, but as I said earlier, John was so sure of what he wanted I just gave it to him.
Was the script an important entity in your creation of the films score?
I imagine the process of composing music for film is quite different today, how was the music for LSJTD recorded back in '70/71?
I played everything to screen in those days, which perhaps gives the music a sense of breathing with the film. I then overdubbed the layers.
Did you write the music after the films completion or during the process of filming?
I only wrote the song and tried a couple themes out before the film was complete.
Are you happy Orville with your work in this film?
Actually listening on your web-site, it does sound kind of fragile and beautiful in a creepy way. Like an old player piano that’s lost in the 70’s.
The theme at the beginning...amazing. Your original composition?
Yes they are all my compositions. I was much intrigued with German Lieder during my college days at the University of Nebraska so I believe some
Schumann and Schubert snuck in there somewhere.
The acoustic guitar solos throughout this film, very simple and captivating. You seemed to know exactly when/where and how much to put in with
each scene. Was that difficult for you or just a natural ability?
As I mentioned I was doing it to screen, so I as well as John could see exactly where I wanted each note to go.
The films score assisted so well with the eerie mood and atmosphere, that I believe it was an essential component in its success. Do you agree
when I say the music was as important as the acting when it came to Johns mission in this film?
I think it became that way because of the sparse quality of the instrumentation and the time we took to place each note in the place it was most
valuable. You know “less is more”.
With the piano work throughout the film, especially during the scene when Jessica was in the attic exploring...spell-bounding in my opinion. Did you
know at that time that particular composition brought such a disturbed/vulnerable mood to the scene? It really played a significant role.
The early 70’s was a depressing time in America, I just think we caught the spirit of the time, Vietnam, drugs, paranoia.
Did you play all the instruments in the films score?
That inducing song Emily sung in the kitchen, did you write that?
The music at the ending scene with Jessica being attacked in the water, very random with a subtle intensity. You managed to accompany the
scene's unforgivingness and tragedy.
Very subdue ending melody. Was this piece already written before you worked on LSJTD or was it composed specifically for this film?
It was written for the film.
Reminiscing about Let's Scare Jessica To Death must stir up lots of memories for you Orville, is there any bad ones you'd be willing to share?
The producers ripped me off for the publishing; I was young and naive and didn't’t cover my ass.
I felt I never got enough credit for my contributions but that’s the way the whole industry is.
There is a large cult following for Let's Scare Jessica To Death. Does that surprise you?
When you watch this film today, do you like it?
It’s like watching an old dream.
What sort of projects have you been up to lately?
I work with developmentally challenged children, do art, and still write songs.
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