Yukon composer’s work shortlisted for Oscar

A Yukon composer was on the production team of a film that has been shortlisted for an Academy Award. Daniel Janke wrote the film score for Subconscious Password, an animated short.

A Yukon composer was on the production team of a film that has been shortlisted for an Academy Award.

Daniel Janke wrote the film score for Subconscious Password, an animated short from Oscar-winning director Chris Landreth.

It is one of 10 films in the category under consideration by the academy.

The list will be cut to three official nominees, to be announced on Thursday.

The 11-minute long animation starts with a familiar scene. Former acquaintances meet in a bar, and one cannot remember the other’s name.

The scene shifts to deep within the forgetful friend’s brain, where a celebrity-laden game show plays out in an effort to remember the name.

The scene borrows from the classic TV game show Password.

Janke wrote three pieces of music for the film.

For the first, he used a double string quartet plus piano.

The second, used during the game show, he uses a big band, of the ilk you may have found on television shows back when television shows hired live musicians.

“I keep telling people to imagine a chase scene in Bugs Bunny, that kind of music,” said Janke.

The closing song was almost an afterthought. Landreth had intended to licence an existing piece of music, but it turned out to be too expensive, said Janke.

So Janke wrote the song himself and hired Yukon singer Helene Beaulieu to perform it.

They recorded it in Janke’s Whitehorse studio.

“She’s the only person in the world who could sing the song.”

The song is part in French and part in English, and Janke wanted someone who would sing the English with a French accent, he said.

“It has a real clear fragility to it.”

The film has been winning acclaim on the festival circuit since its release.

It won Best Short Film at the Annecy International Animated Film Festival in France.

It has recently been nominated for a Canadian Screen Award.

The film will compete at the upcoming Sundance Film Festival. Janke’s work will be featured as part of the festival’s composer spotlight.

For those of us in the Yukon, the film will screen at the Available Light Film Festival in Whitehorse in February.

It will screen in tandem with Miroir Noir, a live concert film and documentary about Montreal indie rock band Arcade Fire.

It can also be viewed on the National Film Board website.

Meanwhile, Janke and Landreth are already planning their next collaboration.

It is to be set on an Arctic scientific sea expedition stuck in the ice. The pair hope to spend some time on such an expedition for research and writing, and to collect background plates to be used in the animation.

Contact Jacqueline Ronson at


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