Film Composer Clinton Shorter scores District 9 produced by Peter Jackson and directed by Neill Blomkamp. The film, based on Blomkamps short film, Alive in Joburg, centers on the fallout caused by a group of alien refugees stranded on Earth (in Johannesburg) and forced into a segregation camp (the title comes from District 6, a former inner-city residential area in Cape Town infamous for the forced removal of 60,000 residents in the 70s by the Apartheid regime). The film blends documentary style with traditional shooting techniques. Shorter, recently named by Hollywood Reporter Next Generation of Film Composers to Watch, has worked with the director on several projects, I had worked with Neill [Blomkamp] over the years on his commercials and short films. When he called in late 2008 and asked me if I’d score his first feature I was all over it.
For District 9, Shorter collaborated closely with Blomkamp, I spent the first several weeks experimenting with every African instrument I could think of. Neill was really pushing me to give the score an African sound; it was quite a task to maintain an African feel but give the film the darkness and edge it required. We incorporated African male vocals with some percussion from the region combined with other elements. With District 9, I knew from the beginning that I was going to go with more of a hybrid score of live and synthesized instruments. Without giving too much away there’s a “mutation” of sorts in the film and I wanted to have that mirrored in the music Shorter also scored the short film which was the impedus of the feature but, as the composer said, For the short, we hired a singer and used various orchestral libraries. The sound for the feature is quite different.
I had known Neill for a few years leading up to that short. A friend of mine worked at the same CG house that he was working at, Neill was only 22 at the time but everyone at the office could see the talent and felt one day he would be a super star.