Commentary by Bruce Smeaton: "The Missing was written and directed by Manuela Alberti and I was asked to provide the musical score by one of the two producers, Lynda House. This was Manuela's first feature film and, unfortunately, it was received unfavourably. The rather lurid story involved the return to Australia, of a disturbed Vatican priest in an attempt to track down his missing daughter, the result of an illicit liaison with a young girl many years before. A serial killer is on the loose and the two stories intertwine, culminating in an horrific climax. A nice touch was an aboriginal senior detective who has no time for tribal aborigines and the relationship that develops between a charismatic tribal aborigine who rescues the priest, lost in the vast outback of Australia. The film is a brave attempt to fuse a clash-of-two-cultures film with a road movie and a thriller.
"The music marks a departure for me in the method of working. I have invariably composed, synchronised, orchestrated and conducted my own scores. On this occasion I wanted to encourage my great friend Joe Chindamo, the international jazz pianist and excellent all-round musician, to expand his craft skills. Joe conducted the sessions and did a far better job than I would have done. I have always detested conducting, a task imposed by impossibly poor budgets and/or lack of time between composing and recording. Joe also orchestrated from my more-or-less detailed and synchronised short scores and added to them as the fancy took him. I first worked with this extraordinary musician as far back as 1980 when he was recommended as the accordionist for a bush band sequence in A Town Like Alice. Since then he has become part of the international jazz community touring in almost every country in the world, playing with the likes of Billy Cobham and Michael and Randy Brecker. He is also a fine composer in his own right.
"The music was recorded at Allan Eaton Studio, St. Kilda, VIC, by my other great friend, sound engineer Robin Gray. We have worked together since recording the score for The Last of the Knucklemen, something I'll never forget, as the weather was stupefyingly hot and one afternoon the multi-track recorder erupted in flames.
"The six three-hour orchestral sessions were held mid-December 1998. They were preceded by a location call at St. Paul's Uniting Church, Canterbury, to record the organ. Fiona Chindamo, wife of you-know-who, and an excellent musician in her own right, recorded the electric violin after the orchestral calls, and finally Christine Sullivan sang the wordless vocals in unison with the violins during the 'Opening Titles' and the 'Closing Credits'.
"The largest orchestra was Strings: 8, 6, 6, 4, 3; Woodwind: 1 flute, 1 oboe/cor anglais, 1 clarinet/alto saxophone, 1 bassoon; French Horns: 4; Brass: generally 1 trumpet, 1 trombone (although for one call we used 4 trumpets, 3 tenor and 1 bass trombone); Harp; Piano; Percussion: 2 players, 1 timpani and 1 general percussion including mallets. For the cue 'Dancing On The Sand' we used a separate kit drummer."