Hulu has thrown its own hat in the anthology-series-ring with its new sci-fi series ‘Dimension 404.” A mashup of sorts between the “Twilight Zone” and “Black Mirror” — with a dash of snark — “Dimension 404” looks to deliver a fun, sci-fi experience and it’s even narrated by Luke Skywalker himself, Mark Hamill.
Of course, every good onscreen sci-fi story needs a good score to set the tone, and “Dimension 404” has just that thanks to composer Cris Velasco.
“A good friend of mine, Alex Ferrari, has a company called Numb Robot that happened to be doing the color correction on this series. Alex is also a director, and I’ve scored three of his films. He mentioned my name to the producer of “D404″ and said they should look me up if they were still looking for a composer,” he told IndieWire of his initial involvement with the series.
“Weeks later, the guys from Rocket Jump called me up and had me submit music to be considered. Towards the end of the process, it was down to me and one other composer. We had such a good rapport together on the phone though that they ultimately went with me.”
The award winning composer is best known for scoring such iconic video-game franchises including “Resident Evil” and “Mass Effect,” which according to Velasco, heavily influenced his score for “Dimension 404.”
“This whole series actually has a lot of nods to video games,” notes Velasco. “This is another reason why I was hired. They knew I’d understand their aesthetic. Having worked on over 80 video games in my career, it’s hard to not have my style influenced by this.”
When it came down to composing the main theme for the show, Velasco noted its progression as he got a better feel for the tone of “Dimension 404.”
“I originally wrote a completely different theme. This was before I even really began to compose for the first episode. It was much more in the vein of “Amazing Stories.” Just a big, orchestral extravaganza that turned out to be too serious,” he recalled.
“We decided that I should write a few episodes first and really get into the vibe of what the show was all about. If there are two words I would use to describe the show they’re FUN and SCI-FI. These were the elements I tried to incorporate into the theme. I had also used a theremin as a campy nod to sci-fi during a few episodes, so I really wanted to use it in the theme too! It’s always been a silly dream of mine to use theremin in a score.”
As an anthology series, “Dimension 404” aims to capture a different tone throughout its six-episode season, a detail that factored heavily into Velasco’s approach to the musical score.
“The major challenge of this show is that as an anthology, every episode has a different style of music,” he explained. “From adventure to comedy to action to horror…it’s got it all. What I’ve really tried to do though is inject a sense of fun into each episode. Fun without being too over-the-top or cartoonish. Just the kind of score that brings a smile to your face as you sit back for an old school adventure like ‘The Goonies’ or ‘Indiana Jones.'”
While the challenge of creating a score for such a genre-bending show can seem daunting, Velasco took it in stride. “I just let each scene tell me what to do. Our showrunner, Dez, has also spent a lot of time researching exactly what he wants for each episode. He’s got an amazing attention to detail and that’s been super helpful for me in understanding where to take the music.
“However, having these blending genres is one of those musical puzzles that really delights me. I literally go from sci-fi to sitcom-ish stingers to a romantic scene to heavy action all in about 11 minutes in one particular episode. I’m honestly having the time of my life scoring this show!”
“Dimension 404,” featuring Lea Michelle, Constance Wu, Patton Oswalt and others is now available to stream on Hulu. Check out a preview of the show’s musical score below.