Anatomy of a Scene: Q&A with Acclaimed Canadian Composer Shaun Chasin

Published on in Exclusive Interviews

Acclaimed Canadian composer Shaun Chasin has brought his expertise to film, television, video games, and more. Most recently he scored the comedy feature Domino: Battle Of The Bones, starring Snoop Dogg and David Arquette. His music has been featured on video games including PUBG Mobile and Ring of Elysium. Shaun is also behind the iconic theme song for the anime, Beyblade Burst which is currently airing on Disney XD.
 

PH: Hi Shaun! Which scene was your favorite to work on in Domino: Battle Of The Bones?

Shaun ChasinMidway through the film, the domino tournament is interrupted by a robbery attempt. Though the attempt is foiled, the character and audience seem to want to call off the tournament anyway. This is until the tournament’s organiser, played by David Arquette, steps in and gives a rousing inspirational speech about why the tournament should go on. The speech climaxes with the whole audience cheering as he builds in intensity and is a fun throwback to the plot-shifting inspirational speeches that were so common in 90s sports movies. Because it was so over the top and such a throwback, I scored it just like a 90s inspirational sports movie speech!  

PH: Describe this scene and the significance it has to the rest of the Domino: Battle Of The Bones.

Shaun ChasinThe scene as a whole serves as a turning point for the film and allows for the final showdown of the tournament to unfold. Though many of the character's motivations for competing remain unchanged, the sudden possibility of the tournament ending abruptly causes the stakes to be raised. It also allows us a moment to humanise the film’s main villain Ten Speed, played by Anthony McKinley. Up until this moment, he’s seen as essentially the bad guy and the obstacle to overcome in the tournament. When the robbery breaks out however, he teams up with the protagonists to save the day! Though the tournament goes on, and he’s still the opponent, we see him in a new light after these events. 

PH: What tools, plugins, or instruments did you use in your production of this scene?

Shaun ChasinBecause we were doing a throwback 90s score during that moment, I really wanted to of course capture that Jerry Goldsmith sound. Goldsmith, being the composer for many of the 90s sports movies, has an iconic sound defined by a huge sweeping orchestra. Though I was working primarily with sampled instruments for the score, I knew we needed more realism and detail than they alone could provide and knew we needed to record some live players. I was able to record the amazing cellist Ro Rowan and phenomenal violinist Emily Lenck and overdub them multiple times to create a small string section sound that was blended with the string samples. Woodwinds can be notoriously difficult to replicate realistically with samples, so for this score I recorded the brilliant oboist Phil Popham who I had worked with previously on my oboe-heavy score for Way Of The Turtle. 

PH: What technical challenges did you encounter while working on Domino: Battle Of The Bones?

Shaun ChasinUnder normal circumstances, I would have invited these players to my studio to record. When I was writing the score however, we were deeply entrenched in covid lockdowns and so we instead needed to record everyone remotely. Since Covid began, it’s been absolutely amazing to see so many session players getting their remote recording setups together and to such high standards. Ro, Emily, and Phil were no exception to this! Each of the three orchestral players I recorded were able to record from their own home studios and did so beautifully. Though this question was about technical challenges, I have to say that what I initially thought was going to be a larger challenge turned out to be no problem at all due to the high quality work of these session musicians!  

PH: What was the dialogue like between you and Domino: Battle Of The Bones’ director regarding this scene?

Shaun ChasinWhen we spoke about the scene, I immediately knew I wanted to score it totally deadpan as if the speech was the most serious and important thing that was happening. They were open to trying this and it actually became the first scene of the whole movie that I scored. After we spotted the film and I had the full list of cues that needed to be written, this one stood out to me as perhaps the most intimidating and hard to nail. Because of this, I didn’t want to waste any time, and dug in first thing. They did have one one note on this cue: to make it even bigger! I happily revised, and it became my favorite cue from the score.

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Bio: Shaun Chasin is a Canadian composer for film, TV, and video games. Most recently, he scored the comedy feature Domino: Battle Of The Bones, starring Snoop Dogg and David Arquette. His music can be heard in dozens of games including the online battle royal shooters PUBG Mobile and Ring Of Elysium, the virtual reality hit Quell 4D, and the family adventure Apple Arcade launch title Way Of The Turtle.

In addition to video games, his music has been featured on dozens of networks including FOX, Disney XD, and CNN, as well as streaming services such as Netflix. He contributed music to the crime investigation series Killing Fields on the Discovery Channel and the survival reality show Alone on The History Channel. Shaun also wrote the theme song “Our Time” for the anime Beyblade Burst, airing now on Disney XD. The song has gone on to garner millions of views on YouTube, as well as inspire dozens of fan covers!

Shaun studied at Berklee College of Music, where he majored in Film Scoring with a minor in Video Game Music. Upon graduating Berklee, he attended the University of Southern California’s Scoring for Motion Pictures and Television graduate program. There, he studied with composers such as Bruce Broughton, Garry Schyman, and Christopher Young.
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