Camp Cold Brook is a new horror film starring Chad Michael Murray (One Tree Hill) and Danielle Harris (Halloween 4) as the leaders of a ghost-hunting team that finds more than they could ever imagine and composer Chad Rehmann brought the sonic tension.
Produced by Joe Dante (Gremlins), Camp Cold Brook centers around the film crew behind a T.V. series that’s losing popularity. The team’s leader and the show’s host Jack (Chad Michael Murray) receives word that they’ve got one episode before the series is canceled. The pressure is on for the team to find a haunted place that can save the show. Their fingers point to creepy old Camp Cold Brook.
PopAxiom spoke with Chad Rehmann about making creepy music and how his own kids took the tension to a whole new level in Camp Cold Brook.
Chad began playing piano “… at around five.” He continues, “At around 10 I went through the phase of ‘I don’t want to do this anymore, I want to play outside.’”
However, music was a part of him, and what he needed was a muse. “In high school, I realized girls like guys who play music.”
After high school, a new motivation was added. “In college, I started making money doing it.”
Learning & Composing
At an early age, Chad was already creating his own brand of songs. “I think I frustrated my music teachers because every time I would come play a song, I would add my own stuff to it. It wasn’t necessarily an act of defiance as much as it was that I just loved creating and experimenting.”
By high school, Chad wasn’t much aware of composing for film and television. “I didn’t realize … film composing was a thing. I grew up in a really small town. So, this whole idea that I could make music for movies and make a living was very foreign.”
While studying at Michigan State University, Chad knew. “… it was what I wanted to do. So, after college, I went out to L.A. with no money and no job.”
Now married with children, Chad says, “I look back on it now, and it seems absolutely insane.”
Cheer & Fear
Chad’s filmography is an interesting one. Versatility is too light a word. “I’ve fallen into two very distinct camps. I work for a company called Ninth House, and they do a lot of holiday movies and thrillers. So I’ve worked with them a lot on holiday films.”
From holiday to horror. “I’ve worked with [director] Andy Palmer and his team on a lot of horror stuff.”
The varying styles is an afterthought for Chad. “Since I was a kid, I just loved telling stories. I loved being a concert composer, but it’s a very isolating experience. In film, you get to collaborate, and that always drew me to this job.”
Chad explains making music to fill people with Christmas cheer or ramp up the fear. “For me, the commonality is how can I help these people tell their stories. For a holiday movie, it’s jingle bells, flutes, and strings. For a horror film, it’s what’s the most messed up thing I can think of to throw up on this image. It’s different tools from the toolbox.”
Merry, Scary Moods
Still, working on holiday joy one day and horrifying imagery, the next has to have interesting effects on Chad. “It’s impossible as an artist to not be affected by the material you’re working with … there is a shift in mentality when going from happy Christmas films to horror.”
Chad does make an interesting note about working on holiday films. “… we’re doing post-production on a lot of the holiday movies in June, July, and August to get them ready for the holiday season. That’s a whole other mindset. It’s 100 degrees outside, and it’s sweltering, and you’re watching all these images of snow and sleigh bells. It’s a fun juxtaposition.”
About Camp Cold Brook
Camp Cold Brook is the fourth collaboration between Chad and director Andy Palmer. The pair met circa 2013, and Chad tells the story. “It was a cold call. When I got enough credits under my belt, I just started cold calling anybody and everybody. I called Andy, he had a film called Find Me, it was originally called Hide and Seek. From what he told me was that he was coming out of a meeting with one of his producing partners talking about who would score the film.”
Talk about timing. “I happened to call at the right time, we talked about it, and I sent Andy a demo.”
Repeated collaborations breed a language all its own. “It’s great working with a director so many times because you start to develop a short-hand. I know what he likes and doesn’t like. Andy is great about allowing me to experiment. He communicates ideas really well.”
Making Scary Sounds
As their newest collaboration, what did the pair want for the music of Camp Cold Brook? “First, we wanted to make two entirely different scores. There’s a score that’s happening when they’re inside the camp, which is a lot of instruments that I created using water, twigs, walkie talkies, all these objects you’d find inside a camp. The second score was for outside the camp, which was a more traditional orchestral score.”
The word experimenting comes up a lot with Chad. It’s a big reason Camp Cold Brook has such familiar but eerie new sounds. “We had the idea of creating instruments from stuff you’d find in a camp. I recorded my kids laughing and screaming, which they loved, ‘How loud can you scream?’”
Camp Cold Brook centers around ghost children and sacrifices. “A lot of the rises and crescendos in the films actually have my kids screaming layered in there. It’s one of those layers I hope hits people on a visceral level.”
Let’s Try It
Now longtime collaborators, Chad explains, “Andy gives me a really big heads up while he’s got his next production coming. So, while they were in production in Oklahoma, before I even saw a cut, my team took a few weeks to find all these objects and recorded them and came up with all these unique things we could do with them. We came up with this palette of sounds created for the film.”
As a rabid fan of experimentation, it also means learning. “A lot of the techniques I used for the film I actually learned how to do for the film.”
Chad shares a key reason he loves working with Palmer. “Andy’s go-to line is ‘Let’s try it.’” Maybe in the back of his head, he’s thinking there’s no way this will work, but he gives me the ability to try new things without any preset boundaries.”
What are the results of this freedom and experimentation? “Sometimes you hit the mark and sometimes you don’t.”
Chad shares a missed mark. “One of the things I tried for this film was doing a lot of things with children’s voices. But no matter what I did when I’d put it up against the picture, it just wasn’t right. I never even sent Andy those drafts because it never got to the point that I felt comfortable showing it to him.”
Self-editing is a vital tool in any artists’ arsenal. “Looking back on it, had I tried it that way, I think it would’ve been a bit of overkill.”
As the process moved along, Chad, “… slowly stripped away layers. On this film, there was definitely a less is more approach.”
Inspiration is a big part of life. For an artist, the hints of creators past pepper the work. “A lot of people my age talk about Star Wars, but the film that always spoke to me was Field of Dreams. I remember watching that film with my grandfather, and for the longest time, it was a film we’d watch together. James Horner did an amazing job on the score. That was the first film I remember hearing the score and thinking ‘Who does that?’”
Chad shares a few more composers who make up his musical DNA. “I’m a huge Marco Beltrami (Logan, Scream) fan. I’m really impressed with was Michael Abels (Get Out, Us). The first couple minutes of the Get Out really hit me. John Powell (Shrek, Bourne Identity) is just a master of his craft.”
In the age of remakes, what movie re-imagining would Chad love to be a part of? “Awww, man. That is a fantastic question. I have to say this, there have been a lot of orchestras that have been doing live to picture stuff. That would intrigue me or doing re-scores of old black and white films; the Phantom, Dracula, stuff like that.”
Camp Cold Brook came out on February 14th, and the soundtrack is available on Spotify, Google Play, and just about every streaming service. “I just finished a film called Heart To Heart. I’ve started working on some of the Christmas stuff, but I can’t talk about it just yet.”
Is Camp Cold Brook on your horror watch list?
Thanks to Chad Rehmann and Impact24 PR for making this interview possible.
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