Tomasz Gąssowski • Composer
"See what appears to be nonexistent"
by Dorota Hartwich
- A loyal partner of Andrzej Jakimowski since 1991 and co-producer of his debut feature, Tomasz Gassowski composed the score for Tricks and also helped develop the screenplay
Tomasz Gassowski made his debut as a film score composer in 1991 with Andrzej Jakimowski’s Poglos. Since then, he has regularly worked with the director of Tricks [+see also:
interview: Andrzej Jakimowski
interview: Tomasz Gąssowski
film profile] and even co-produced his debut feature Squint Your Eyes.
Cineuropa: You’ve been working with Andrzej Jakimowski, the director of Tricks, since the start of your career. What attracts you to his films?
Tomasz Gassowski: We started working together 20 years ago, first of all making short works. This was my first contact with film, a very fresh, young and exciting contact; it was pure magic. But what I value most nowadays in Andrzej Jakimowski’s films is the kind of fragility and subtlety he conveys, his vision of the world and his ability to see what appears to be nonexistent but exists nonetheless. We share the same passion for Czech films and old Italian films. When we make a film, we work together right from the initial stage of developing a story. Andrzej presents his ideas to me and the three of us (him, his wife and I) study and discuss them. We also end up arguing sometimes...
Tricks is a story told from the point of view of a child. Was it difficult to work in this perspective?
No, because as always I worked by being closely involved in the production of the film. It’s just like an English lawn: it’s a success if it’s mowed and watered regularly, with great care.
What is your working method? Do you compose the score when the film is completed or do you write it during the filming process?
It depends. For Squint Your Eyes, I wrote the score only after the film was completed. For Tricks, I started to think of ideas right from the stage of writing the screenplay, then after the first reading. I knew from the start that this film would need a very emotional score in order to touch the viewers.
The story is already very emotional, whence the risk of lapsing into ostentation and exaggerated sentimentality.
Indeed. We were conscious of this from the start. It’s important for the composer to produce touching sounds which are not overly sentimental or sugary. It’s very easy to create sad music, but it’s quite a challenge to succeed in writing melancholy and emotional music, which isn’t sickly sweet at the same time.
What do you think is the role of music in film?
It depends on the film. Writing scores for genre films doesn’t really interest me. I don’t like conventional things and I don’t want to focus all my energy for six months on producing the score for an adventure film for example. What’s important to me is working on auteur projects, coming up with original notes (that don’t shock people too much), understanding the atmosphere of the film, the colours of the locations, the emotions.
The score in Tricks conveys what the little boy (the protagonist) is feeling inside. So first of all it’s innocence and insouciance that come into play, before the focus switches to the father, who is being followed by the little boy. The musical score splits and divides this story in two.
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