During the red-carpet premiere of “Rejuvenation,” film credits rolled as hundreds of students, faculty, family, and friends gave a standing ovation and cheered on the entire cast and crew of the much-anticipated suspense thriller. The GSU collaboration was executive produced by film and television veteran Tom Luse (B.A. ’74, M.S. ’81) and led by the Creative Media Industries Institute (CMII) along with the School of Film, Media & Theatre and the School of Music. Students largely participated in every aspect of the film, from acting and production to composing the riveting sounds and music.
School of Music’s pool of talent included Isaiah John Dennis a.k.a. John Yesha and Mitchell Seymour who created the film’s opening music track. Yesha composed and performed the music track while Seymour assisted with the mixing, all under the supervision of music industry professors Ben Yonas and Al Thrash, co-founders of GSU’s MTM Standard.
William Tate was tasked with the “Rejuvenation” sound design and Royal Teague took charge of composing the film score, his first feature-length film, which also included an original song co-written with Sienna Egar.
Teague, who graduated last spring with a master’s degree in music composition, explained that a film score is like any other element of filmmaking and storytelling. It channels the audience directly into the interior of the character and colors the world they inhabit.
We connected with Teague to learn more about composing the “Rejuvenation” film score and working alongside the acclaimed producer.
College of the Arts (COTA): How and when did you become involved with Rejuvenation?
Royal Teague (RT): It was kind of serendipitous. I had taken a few years away from school to tour and work on personal projects but decided to return to finish my master's in music composition. Dr. [Nickitas] Demos couldn't help but remark on the timing during my first week back, interviews for the Rejuvenation team were just weeks away. After that brief interview with Tom Luse in the spring of 2022, he asked me to come aboard not long after.
COTA: What was the process of composing the score for Rejuvenation?
RT: Once Tom and I decided on the overall tone we wanted to evoke, I began to write some sketches that I thought would fit our vision. I read and reread the script multiple times to get a head start on developing characters and themes. Once I received the locked picture from the editors, I had about 3 weeks to write and finish the whole score using Logic Pro and a few live instruments recorded in my home studio. There's also an original song I wrote along with Sienna Egar that fits an important montage around the middle of the film.
COTA: In the film, is there one scene that you’re most excited about and that you would like the audience to pay close attention to?
RT: I had a prepared answer for this question during the panel portion on the night of the premiere, but after watching it with that audience, I spent the next day with a clearer answer. Without giving too much away, there's a scene towards the end of the film where the main characters have to work through a very delicate situation. When I first received the final cut of the film, that scene without music felt like an enigma to me. There were so many ways we could've scored it, I knew it needed something but couldn't immediately solve it. Tom and I walked through it beat by beat many times, and then something finally clicked. I landed on something complex that juggles about 3 different emotions at once. Once that happened, I had the same feeling as you get solving a puzzle, it's my favorite sequence in the film.
COTA: Overall, how much time did you spend working on Rejuvenation?
RT: From beginning to end, the entire process including pre-production took about two semesters. I was on and off through that time (also putting together my Master's recital). I'd visit the set whenever I had a break between classes which really paid off towards the deep understanding of the film. Like I said, after the wrap, I only had 3 weeks to write the whole score. Then after we had everything in place (Color, VFX, ADR), the audio team (William Tate, Sam Richardson) and I spent a few full days at Boom Post Audio dialing in the mix.
COTA: During the premiere, how did it feel to hear your film score come to fruition, and what’s one key takeaway from this signature film experience?
RT: Premieres are always a roller coaster of emotions. During some points while hearing my score, I wanted to crawl under my chair, but at others, I felt proud of what we made. Also, it can be really interesting to hear and feel how every audience member reacts, there are always surprising moments.