AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER FROM KRONOS RECORDS.
Finnish film maker Markku Polonen has created a stunning looking movie in the form of OMA MAA (HOMELAND). The story focuses upon Finland from the end of the second world war in 1945 through to 1952 which was the year of the Helsinki Olympics and concentrates on the two central characters, Anni played by Oona Airola and Veikko portrayed by Konsta Laasko who against the backdrop of difficult and testing times fall in love, their relationship is tested when Veikko who was wounded during the war becomes ill. Finland had fought long and hard in the second world war firstly against Russia and then against the Third Reich. This period directly after the war years was a difficult time in Finland as they had to re-settle over 450.000 evacuees and also care for war invalids from Karelia. The country also had the task of building 100,000 new homes. OMA MAA is a touching and dramatic tale which is superbly crafted and directed, the movie having a high level of production standards in all areas. The musical score is the work of composer Pessi Lovanto who has created a romantically laced soundtrack that is delicate, sweeping and lush. The composer is one of the most prominent and sought after in his home country of Finland but is most certainly expanding his work internationally. The composer has written the scores for fifteen motion pictures and his approach to writing film music is a fusion of both vintage styles and more contemporary colours and methods. He also has a musical identity outside of the world of film music as Lovanto acts as a conductor and is a talented and innovative arranger. One of his most successful non-film music projects was with the Helsinki Philharmonic with CLASSICAL TRANCELATIONS, where the orchestra performed club classics. He has also been responsible for writing a number of chart topping songs for Korean and Japanese artists such as ARASHI and THE AFTERSCHOOL.
THE COMPOSER ON THE SCORE.
Interview with John Mansell.
Can I begin by asking you how you became involved on Oma Maa?
“I have made music for three films before for the production company Solar Films, the biggest one in Finland. Their producer Rimbo Salomaa, with whom we had worked on a previous film ”Unexpected Journey”, wanted to bring me in to this project as he though my style would work well with this world. So I had the luxury of getting a direct call from the producer.”
The score is very melodic and lush in places but also contains some nice jazz sounding cues, what size orchestra did you use for the recording?
“We used a professional Finnish orchestra called Tapiola Sinfonietta which is about 45 players. I did the jazz cues separately and had drums, bass, guitar and piano pre-recorded elsewhere. This style of jazz, called foxtrot in it’s time, was rather popular in Finland at the time when the story takes place. I also had one folk-style violin to do some solo lines on top of the orchestra to give a slight folk-music vibe in places.”
At what stage of the production did you become involved, and was the director specific as to what style of music you should compose and how much time did you have to complete the score?
“They had shot the summer scenes in July-August of 2017 and were to shoot the winter scenes in March 2018. I was brought in in November 2017 and started discussing initial ideas with the director. He had some preferences and reference tracks he liked and I began to make some demos of the main themes based on that. He likes the oboe a lot so I put that in quite a bit. Also he made it clear that its a melodrama and that I should not shy away from being lush in the right places. It always takes some time to come up with a core idea you believe is strong enough to carry many repetitions but once that is done, it gets a lot easier and the score begins to write itself. I got a cut of the film (minus the winter scenes) in early January 2018 and wrote all those cues in January and February. Then after the winter shooting they edited those scenes in and I wrote some new music for the inserted scenes. So actually we had plenty of time considering how quickly film scores have to be done sometimes.”
How much music did you write for the movie and is the entire score on this Compact disc or is it a selection of cues that are representive of the music in the movie and did you have any part in assembling what cues were to be used on the release?
“The CD has all the music I wrote for the film. Being an European indie film there is not that much music compared to a fantasy or animation but if you see the film I think you’ll agree that it’s a good idea since the music really has some meaning and impact when it comes in after a period of no music.”
Was the movie temp tracked at all and do you find the use of this tool by film makers helpful or distracting?
”I had made demos in the early phase and they used those for the edit. I was really happy that they didn’t use much temp music as it often presents a real problem for the composer. ”Temp track love” is a major challenge to the composer and the sooner we can get rid of the temp track the better. I usually try to avoid this by writing demos beforehand which they can use in the edit or submit some of my own music from previous films for that purpose as it’s much easier for me to replace my own music than John Williams’ music.”
You conducted the score, do you normaly conduct all your own film music and also do you carry out the orchestration?
”I conduct my own scores whenever possible. Sometimes when done abroad it’s not practical if the players don’t speak English so then it’s better if a local conductor does it. I had an assistant in this project who cleaned up my midi files from my Cubase sessions I had used to make demos for the director but then I orchestrated the cues myself after that. Orchestration is something I really enjoy and consider a bit of a speciality so I like to do that myself if time permits.