The Mistover Tale
The journey of making The Mistover Tale is a tale unto itself, spanning almost a decade from conception to release—and switching genres along the way. The film was scored by composer Jerome Leroy, who took the assignment in 2006 shortly after moving to Hollywood from Boston. Director Harry Tappan Heher based his indie film, shot on the island of Martha’s Vineyard, on the Thomas Hardy novel The Return of the Native. “Hardy lived in England,” says Leroy, “and the movie was very European in its sensibility, so I think [Heher] was interested in having a European composer write the music for it. We met to discuss the film and we hit it off.”
It was four years before the film was ready for a score, and when Leroy saw it again in 2010 the cut had changed dramatically. “It was less of a straight-up drama,” says Leroy. “It had more fantasy elements and ended up being more of a ghost story. So that obviously brought a different kind of perspective, musically.” Leroy was inspired by the stunning seascapes and vistas of the island. “We wanted the score to feel both airy and earthy, in a way,” he says. “We talked about what you would hear on the island, and how to balance the sound of nature and silence with an actual underscore.”
The thematic focus of the film is the island itself. “We eventually realized,” explains Leroy, “that the only thing that is a constant is the island. People will die, people will be born, but the island itself doesn’t change. It’s always there, like an immutable presence. This is one of the main themes of Hardy’s novel, that (Heher) wanted to capture in the film.”
The score’s aesthetic identity is in the single, magical tones of the Celtic harp, which, along with the other featured instruments—wooden flutes, fiddle, guitar—was performed at Leroy’s studio. The main character, Cliona, has Irish roots, but Leroy didn’t want to make the Irishness too on-the-nose. “I thought about the Celtic harp to build the harmonic language as dramatic support,” he says. “I would use it as a motor, on top of which I would then layer various melodic or rhythmic elements. The added benefit is that it has a very different sound than the regular harp, yet people wouldn’t necessarily say, ‘Oh, this is Celtic’ when they hear it. It is lighter and more brittle. It does sound a little more magical, more otherworldly.”
From the opening low drones and harp strains in the score’s “Overture,” Leroy weaves a delicate tapestry on aptly isolated instruments that resonate with the story’s isolated characters and their island home. “It’s a confined score on purpose,” he says. “It was all about trying to create something driven by emotions in a carefully balanced way. That’s what was interesting about it to me.” Leroy concludes, “I do feel lucky that we had a lot of time to conceive the score, and most of all I feel lucky that it was such an original story, in such an original setting.”
— Tim Greiving
The Mistover Tale is a film shot with beautiful purpose, emotion and soul… Nature was such a powerful element in it that it was impossible not to be moved by it. It is displayed in the film in all its variations, at times peaceful and warm, and at other times cold, desolate, and ominous… these elements transpire in the film’s story and in its characters, and it was wonderful to be allowed to help them come to life, even if in a small way.
— Jerome Leroy
Score Mixed by
Live Soloists recorded at
Matt-Man Music Studios, Woodland Hills, CA
Score Produced by
Album Art Direction by
Thanks to Harry Tappan Heher, Sarah Kovacs, Peter Gordon, Larry Mah, William Ross, and Perrine Vaillant. And to the wonderful musicians without whom this score would not exist: I cannot express how grateful I am that you agreed to join me in this adventure–Thank you.