Tag Archives: interviews

ANGELO BADALAMENTI.

 

 Angelo Badalamenti was born in Brooklyn New York in 1937, and has become an acclaimed and prolific composer who has written some of the most unique film scores of our time. He is widely known for his long-standing collaboration with the director David Lynch, which has produced a creative and inspired body of work. One of his most recent scoring assignments is the Russian made 3d motion picture STALINGRAD which has inpressed critics and added even more admirers to the composers army of fans.

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ANGELO BADALAMENTI

 

You studied at the Eastman school of music and the Manhattan school of music where you concentrated upon French horn and piano, when you were studying did you think about writing music for films, or was this something that came about as your career progressed?

 

 

 

Not at all. I was studying performance as a French horn player with the hope of joining a professional orchestra one day. That was the dream.  But I was also studying composition and playing piano. I spent many summers during college working as a pianist in the Catskills – accompanying singers, and playing for shows. And when I graduated from school, I took a job as a middle school music teacher back in Brooklyn. Working with the kids was fantastic. One year, I had written an original score for the Christmas musical. And somehow it was such a big success that the Board of Education got excited, and the local PBS channel came to the school and wanted to tape the show.  It aired over the holidays in New York, and as a result a publisher who saw the show offered me a job as a writer. That’s really the first small step that I took to becoming a full time composer.

 

 

 

 

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What are your earliest memories of music and do you come from a family background that is musical?

 

 

 

There was music in the house for sure. My grandfather and uncles exposed me to opera which I truly adore, and my cousin, Vinnie Badale, was a great big-band trumpeter who worked with Benny Goodman and Harry James. My brother Steve took up the trumpet as well and he’d have other jazz musicians come around to the house from time to time.

 

 

 

 

STALINGRAD is one of your most recent film scores, the soundtrack is glorious, you recorded the music in Russia, what size orchestra did you utilize and did you also travel to Russia to view the film prior to scoring it?

 

 

 

We recorded an 80-piece orchestra for Stalingrad over about 5 days this summer at Mosfilm studios in Moscow. Yes, I made the trip to Russia and produced from the booth. Prior to that, the work was done at my studio in New Jersey and we had a couple meetings with the director there. After the recording, we did our mix in New York.

 

 

 

securedownloadHow much time did you have to score the movie from start to finish and did the director or producers of the movie have any specific instructions regarding the music for the film?

 

 

 

Thankfully, this score was being talked about long before production. So, I was able to write some themes and send them to the director early on. Of course, I had the script and some general ideas about the concept. I shaped these early themes to picture later on , and the director gave me insight as we progressed. But no matter how early you start, there’s always a crunch right at the end.

 

 

 

You began to write music for film when you scored GORDONS WAR in 1973 and LAW AND DISORDER in 1974, how did you become involved with these projects?

 

 

 

I spent a good deal of time at Palomar Pictures where my friend, Al Elias, was a staff lyricist. It was there that I met Ossie Davis, who’d directed a blaxploitation film called Gordon’s War. One day I invited him over to the piano and played some themes based on his key characters in the script. (I had read it and done this on spec.)  He said “I am sorry, but I already have a call in to Barry White to compose the score.” But Ossie politely agreed to hear my themes anyway. He really felt they were perfect, and asked me to score his film. Also, while at Palomar Pictures, I met a Czechoslovakian director named Ivan Passer. He’d just finished Law and Disorder, a cop movie starring Carroll O’Connor and Ernest Borgnine. Once again, I’d read the script which was sitting in the office and was inspired to write some music. I caught Ivan as he was about to head out the door one day and told him that I’d like to play him the music that I wrote based on the characters of his film. He replied, “Oh, I’ve got to go down and mail this letter. But, tell you what. Why don’t you play me your music before I go?” So I played two themes for him, one for each character, and demonstrated how the these themes might work together. Ivan really flipped over the music, and asked me to score the picture. Then, Ivan said “You’re lucky I didn’t mail this letter.” I asked him why, and Ivan took it from his coat pocket. It was addressed to a composer named Aaron Copland!

 

 

MV5BMTczNjE4NTQwNF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwODI3Mjc1MDE@._V1_SX214_You first worked with David Lynch in 1986 when you composed the music for BLUE VELVET, you were originally asked to act as a vocal coach for Isabella Rossellini, and this progressed to you writing the score and also the song MYSTERIES OF LOVE, does David Lynch have very hands on approach to music in his films?

 

 

 

 David is a remarkable artist with a keen ear for music. Sure, he’s very involved in the scoring. We work together to achieve something unique that really suits his work. Either he’s steering me to new creative directions, or writing lyrics, or listening in the studio. He’s a genius.

 

 

 

You scored the re-make of THE WICKER MAN, I personally like your score a lot, when you were working on the movie were you conscious of the cult status that both the original film and score had, and did this affect the way in which you approached the project?

 

 

 

 No, not really. I don’t like to have any pre-conceived notions about the project before  scoring. That way you’re not fighting to differentiate yourself from the other version. Temp music works this way as well. Sometimes it’s best to come at it with a fresh perspective.

 

MV5BMTI3NzQ3NjgzN15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTYwMjk4NTU3._V1_SY317_CR0,0,214,317_ TWINSPEAKS is a cult TV series and your music also has attained this status amongst collectors and critics alike, what are the differences between working on a long running or popular series and scoring a motion picture, if indeed there are any differences?

 

 

 

Twin Peaks was not a long-running series. It was only two seasons but it had a major impact. I would say the main difference with TV  – is that you score everything early on. But as the series continues, you can create a library of thematic tracks and mixes that can be used to score later episodes. So, once you build a sizable list of tracks, the music editor can use these.

 

 

 

Staying with TV scoring, and TWINPEAKS, how much music did you write for the series in total, and did you at times ever recycle music as in use a cue or part of a cue from one episode within another episode?

 

 

 

I wrote heaps of music for the show.  No idea how many minutes. I wouldn’t say we recycled music but we were quite effective in creating a number of different mixes for themes and cues. Our engineer and music editor were helpful in getting this done. So, maybe you’d hear the tune again, but this time with just brushes and bass, with no melody or vibes or synth.

 

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Do you conduct your scores for film or do you prefer to use a conductor and monitor the proceedings at the session from the recording booth?

 

 

 

I used to conduct but I found that I prefer to be in the booth listening and producing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do you think that orchestration is an important part of the composing process, and do you orchestrate all of your scores for film, or is this nowadays almost impossible with the tight schedules etc?

 

 

 

 Sure, orchestration is important. I do orchestrate some cues, but I have an orchestrator do some as well. It just depends on the piece and the timeline for the work to be done.

 

 

 

Your score for TOUGH GUYS DON’T DANCE, has just been issued on to Compact Disc, when one of your scores is to be issued onto a recording do you like to be involved with the selection of cues that will go onto the release, STALINGRAD for example?

 

 

 

Absolutely, many cues in a film are not suitable for an album. Either they’re too short, or perhaps the performance is not top notch. Music for film is quite different than music for music’s sake. The bar is set much higher when you create music for an album I feel.

 

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How many times do you like to see a movie before you begin to get ideas about what style of music is needed and where the music will be placed to best serve the movie?

 

 

 

Sometimes, just once is enough for me to determine the style. Directors often have some sort of concept in mind – so you also have to help them realize that and be true to yourself.

 

 

 

Do you have a set way in which you approach a film score, by this I mean do you like to establish a central theme and then work from this or is every project different?

 

 

 

 I do like to establish solid themes in my work when possible because most films benefit from a musical thread.  There are a couple different levels to this – there’s the actual musical content (melody and harmony) and then there’s the sonic palette (instrumentation/orchestration). The constant factors are melody, harmony, counter lines and an integrated middle voice, which I use to create a beautiful dissonance.

 

 

 

What composers or artists would you say have influenced you in maybe the way you approach a film score or in the way that you compose?

 

 

 

  Opera and classical music were an early influence for sure. Bach, Debussy, Chopin, Puccini. Stravinsky, as well as the semi-classical Kurt Weill, George Gershwin and Jerome Kern. But jazz was an interest of mine too. And of course, I got started writing songs and working with singers. So, I was expected to write in so many different styles (pop, soul, blues, even country). I guess that songwriting background has had an impact on the way I write.

 

MV5BMTA3OTg2NDQzODdeQTJeQWpwZ15BbWU3MDMyNjAwMzM@._V1_SY317_CR6,0,214,317_Do you have a preference for any particular studio or orchestra when you are scoring a motion picture and if the score should call for solo performances; do you write these parts of the score with a particular soloist in mind?

 

 

 

If you’re lucky enough to have the opportunity to work with an orchestra, you take it. For most solos, a decent orchestra will have talented section leaders that can cover the part. Many films cannot afford this luxury. On top of that, if you want to get a true solo artist involved, it has to be a shared priority for the filmmakers.

 

 

 

 

What is your opinion of the increased use of synthetic elements within film scores?

 

 

 

 I am very happy making music with synths and samples. It’s an effective way to work and you can do so much with it. It’s nice when you have some real elements mixed in, so that it’s not 100% synthetic. That can breathe some life into a performance.

 

 

 

When you are working on a score, do you work out your musical ideas on piano, or a keyboard or maybe straight to paper?

 

 

 

 I like to compose at the keyboard with a sustained analog string sound. But of course, there are many times when I just sketch something out on paper, or sing it into a tape recorder first.

 

 

 

 

 

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I thought that your music for TOUGH GUYS DON’T DANCE contained certain passages that evoked the style and the sound of the scores from film noir pictures and composers such as Rozsa, Steiner and Raksin. Was this something that you set out to do or did it just develop as the project moved forward?

 

 

Thanks, John. TOUGH GUYS DONT DANCE was early in my career and I feel that I’ve developed a lot since then. However, I do think that the classic film-noir sound was appealing to me then, and it still is.

 

 

 

How do you think that film music today compares with film music from the Golden age?

 

 

 

I feel like the past masters were such enormous talents. The style has changed so much today that it’s a like different art form. It’s hard to compare generations. There’s some great music out there today too but it’s just a different concept.

 

 

 

What in your opinion is the purpose of music in film?

 

 

 

 Really film music is there to serve the film. There are so many variables in a film to work with – the music can play many roles. It can enhance emotions, give perspective, set pace and mood, and make mental markers related to the story and characters.

 

MV5BNDg0NzU3NjMzNV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTYwODAxMTI5._V1_SY317_CR2,0,214,317_What is next for you?

 

 

 

With the winter we’re having here on the east coast, what’s next for me, is a week in Aruba,

 

 

 

 

 

Many Thanks to the composer for his time and his patience. Also thanks to Godwin Borg of Kronos records and Mikael Carlsson of Movie Score Media  and Jim Bruening for his help with the interview.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PHILIPP FABIAN KOLMEL.

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Philipp F. Kölmel was born on September 5, 1973 in Rastatt, Baden, Germany One of his latest scoring assignments RUBINROT is causing more than a ripple of interest and excitement amongst collectors and critics alike, the powerful and imposing music that the composer has penned is released on Sony Music.

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You began writing music for film in 1996, when you worked on KREUZ & QUER, how did you become involved on this project?

I was studying to become a recording engineer (Tonmeister) at the conservatoire in Berlin back then. However I was kind of unhappy with seeing the musicians having fun at the recording stage and me as a Tonmeister being more or less uncreative.

Film music was always a passion for me so as a connoisseur I decided to change my subject and began to study film scoring in Munich (Bavaria, Germany). To get my first (unpaid) job as a film music composer I put some notes on the pin board in the film college in Munich. A fresher girl named Yasemin asked me to be her first film composer. She hired me many times after that first collaboration and I then started to make a living from my passion.

What musical education did you receive, and had you always wanted to write music for film?

My passion with music begun with getting piano lessons aged seven. My piano tutors hated me for improvising more than playing and practising the masters on the piano.

Later I learned saxophone and double bass. With the double bass I had the opportunity to play in a lot of youth orchestras. It was a formative time for me.

Back in my teenage years I attended some composition competitions and workshops. Plus I played in some bands for which I wrote songs and jazz tunes. I studied recording engineer in Berlin later but switched to a film scoring programme at the conservatoire in Munich.  As I am interested in the recording studio, computer technique and music I found out that composing for film could match all of these worlds perfectly.
602281_3955732447599_1849371116_nRUBINROT (RUBY RED), is one of your latest scoring assignments, the music is symphonic and highly infectious, what size orchestra did you utilize for the score and where did you record the score?

Thank you. We recorded the 72 piece orchestra Staatskapelle Weimar, which is one of the orchestras with the oldest tradition and history in Germany. I keenly loved their sound which was perfectly surrounded by the reverb of the Volkshaus Jena where we recorded the music within seven sessions. As I am a recording studio technique nerd I added and mixed many tracks of my computer mock ups to the live recording. This blend I would say is the requirement of an up to date cinema sound. Music mixing engineer Peter Fuchs and I worked intensively and we were very particular and precise when it came to the edit and mix of the score.

RUBINROT is the first in a series of movies that centre around a time traveller I understand, are you going to be working on any of the other movies in this series?

The film business is sometimes a bit nervous. So because of this I can’t answer that question fully or finally yet. But I live in hope that I will do the scores for the complete trilogy.

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Do you orchestrate all of your own music, or is this something that is not always possible when working on a movie due to scheduling, and do you consider that orchestration is an important part of the composing process?

My computer mock-ups of the score are very precise. Every detail of the final recording was demonstrated in my computer layouts before. That is the basis for an approval of the music by the film director. I would get a complaint if the music would sound too different after the recording process.  But yes, on bigger projects I collaborate with an orchestrator. He helps me to translate my mock-ups to written score in time. In the case of RUBINROT there were constant tasks; while the orchestrator was working I had to arrange different source music which ran in the background of the movie. At the same time I was examining and revising the orchestrations.

What would you say is the purpose of music in film?

Film music amplifies the emotions of a movie. A lot of things are impossible to explain with only the eye-minded part of a film. On the other hand the score is kind of an actor. It communicates with the actors on screen.

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You worked on a comedy TV series, UN HIMMELS WILLEN, which was popular in Germany, it must be quite a harsh schedule for a composer if the series is aired weekly, did you re-use any music from certain episodes within other episodes of the series?

UM HIMMELS WILLEN is the most popular TV-series in Germany. I am very happy to be involved for the second year now in this prominent and funny show about the quarrels between some nuns and the mayor of a small fictitious town in Germany. The schedule is manageable because they only produce and release 13 episodes each year. There is not too much music in each episode.

You have worked on a wide selection of movies, shorts, TV projects and documentaries, what would you say are the main differences if there are any between scoring these types of projects?

For me there are not too many differences. But there is more time and budget involved in movies for cinema. That is why it is more comfortable to achieve a good sound quality for your score when working for movies. Scoring for shorts is sometimes difficult because due to the short running time it is not easy to establish a main theme. You need some time between a re-run of the main theme. If it repeats itself in a short period the music tends to appear corny.

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Do you think that you have been influenced by any composer or group of composers either from the world of classical music, contemporary or film music?

Maybe you won’t recognize it if you are listening to RUBINROT but my first love in music was the German electronic band KRAFTWERK. I have been listening to their music since I was 8 years old. Plus my Father was a big jazz fan. That is why I love the use of more complex harmony. Additionally I was absolutely impressed by the orchestral works of Stravinsky and Bartok. I would say that their way of orchestration taught me the most. I prefer listening to contemporary composers like Ligeti or Penderezky rather than Mozart or Haydn.

How many times do you normally like to look at a movie before you begin to get any firm ideas about what type of music you will write and also where music is best placed to serve the picture?

I would love to compose to a movie while looking at it for the first time. That would keep me in tension with the movie. But reality is that I am watching the movie two to four times in advance, and then of course I end up seeing the movie 500 times because of working on it etc.  In more and more projects nowadays I am allowed to decide where to place music and where not. I rarely go through a spotting session.

2591_1044135779502_3543292_nAt what stage do you like to become involved on a project, is it better to receive a script and maybe start working out your ideas from reading this or do you prefer to come in at the rough cut stage of the proceedings?

I like to read the script but the film is always completely different in my imagination than the final cut of the movie. Actually I love to hear the dialogue, see the costume and the amount of use of light so that I am able to compose the right notes. The movie is the vision of the director so I have to follow and serve his visions. Composing for a script makes no sense for me. But I need a lot of time to fuse with the movie completely. So the earlier I am able to become involved the better.

What is your opinion of the TEMP track, have you had experience of this practise when working on a movie and did you find it helpful or maybe distracting?

Sometimes I am happy to have temp tracks because they save me time in finding the tempo and style the director likes. I force myself to just copy the tempo (BPM) and don’t listen to the temps too much. Somehow I would prefer if the filmmakers would be more interested in what we film composers could offer for their movies. But it is rare that directors work without temp tracks. In RUBINROT I was involved very early so the film editor could implant my music in the movie before he was looking on the temp track shelf.

How do you bring your musical ideas to fruition, by this I mean how do you work out your ideas, piano, keyboard, etc or a more technical approach ?

I improvise and experiment on the digital piano while watching the scenes and listening to the dialogue. If something attracts me from my improvisations I can reactively record it with my MIDI sequencer. Compared to some of my composer colleagues I never switch of the dialogue. After having a piano layout I “colour” it with sampled instruments. It is like a blank canvas being filled with colours hopefully adding more dimension to the project. So basically my work is improvisation plus waiting for some coincidences and magic.

535682_4607668465592_1388716360_nHow much music did you compose for RUBINROT, and how much of the score is represented on the CD release of the score?

I composed 75 minutes of music. Approximately 57 minutes of music is released on the soundtrack release plus 4 songs from Spanish singer songwriter Sofi de la Torre.

535477_4498184728567_1978618051_nWhen a compact disc is to be released are you involved with the release and do you select what music tracks that appear on any release?

Yes, I am very picky in preparing the compact disc. It took me a lot of time to decide and compile the most fitting parts of the score to something like a concept. I also create some title names and like to be present at the mastering process.

 As you have said you do play instruments yourself, but do you perform on any of your film scores at all?

Yes as a pianist and usually as a conductor. In the case of RUBINROT I was afraid of not hearing the little details as a conductor so I decided to sit in the mixing room reading the score and listening to the orchestra.

2591_1045149204837_6837578_nCASCADEUR (1998) was one of your first assignments, what size orchestra did you have for this and how have things changed from then till now regarding studios and technology etc when recording a score?

CASCADEUR was my first full size orchestra project. We recorded a 75 piece orchestra in Prague plus a huge choir. Even in these days I later on added a lot of my sequencer tracks to the natural recording. Of course technology has improved and mock-ups tend to sound better now. But in my view things have not changed too much. Scoring for films is a quite traditional craft.

 

 

 

What do you do musically away from film and television?

I am a pianist in an improvisation theatre where I do nothing different than in my home studio: Improvisations over scenes. Besides I am accompanying some stand up comedian and cabaret artists with the piano or compose their songs. From time to time I compose classical chamber or orchestra music for the stage. I would love to create a larger project playing my own compositions on the piano together with a small orchestra or band.

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PETER BATEMAN.

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As a composer, Peter has a rapidly growing list of feature film credits. Peter’s musical style in his feature film scores varies widely; from the bold symphonic gestures of the animated epic adventure Kaptara (2012), to the contemporary urgency and delicate romanticism of the fast-paced rom-com Syrup (2012).  

As an orchestrator and additional arranger, Peter has had the distinct pleasure of working with a number of other respected film composers, including but not limited to Danny Elfman, James Newton Howard, and Christopher Young. Recent film credits include several high profile releases for 2013;  Hunger Games: Catching Fire (Dir. Francis Lawrence),  After Earth (Dir. M Night Shyamalan),  Epic  (Dir. Chris Wedge), and  Fast & Furious 6 (Dir. Justin Lin).  His work with veteran video game composer Garry Schyman has received critical acclaim, most notably on the highly successful  Bioshock  franchise.

Peter has already seen recognition from within the music industry, with scholarships awarded by both ASCAP (Steve Kaplan Scholarship 2010), and BMI (Pete Carpenter Fellowship 2010). Most recently, Peter was nominated in the category ‘Best Young European Composer’ at the 2012 World Soundtrack Awards.

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One of your latest projects is the score for an animated movie. How did you become involved on KAPTARA ?

 

 

 

I responded to an ad placed on the Los Angeles Craigslist in late 2010 I think, and did two custom demo tracks for Patrick, the director. We met up during the demo process and hit it off, and seemed to see eye-to-eye on a lot of things conceptually from the very start (and this was while the film was still in the script stage). I then had to wait over a year to see anything on screen! Animation takes a long time.

 

The score sounds very grand throughout, what size orchestra did you employ for the soundtrack, and what percentage was performed via electronic or synthetic components?

 

There were three different-sized orchestras, primarily because of budgeting, but the idea was that the score should sound as if it were recorded with a single-sized orchestra. Some cues would segue from one orchestra to another, if the scene didn’t require the larger forces for part of it.  The largest group was around 70 musicians, and had a slightly over-sized brass section with 6 horns and 4 trombones.  The score totals about 72 minutes, and 69 minutes were recorded, which is basically every instrumental cue written for the movie. There are a handful of synth/sound-design cues that had overdubbed ethnic instruments/voice, but I was very conscious about making sure everything had a live element in it. I felt that this was more important than ever, as the film itself is entirely ‘synthesized’; from 2-D background drawings to computer-generated character faces and movements.

 

You utilize a female voice on the score, who is the soloist and did you have this artist in mind when you were writing the vocal parts, they seem to have an Armenian or maybe Macedonian sound to them? 

 

The soloist is the Los Angeles-based singer Belinda Ulla Capol, who is originally from Zurich, Switzerland. She has a very versatile voice, and was able to capture a lot of different styles for me that would have taken 2 or 3 different performers to cover. The vocal moments in the score are very scene-specific, rather than artist-specific, so it was great that Belinda could consolidate all these moments with her distinctive musicality.  We also had a menagerie of other overdubbed instruments, including didgeridoo, lots of different ethnic winds, and hand percussion.

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How much time were you allowed to write the score and were the films producers or director very hands on when it came to the spotting and scoring of the picture, or were you more or less given a free hand ?

 

When it comes to workflow, this was definitely a very unique project. I was attached to the production very early on, which allowed for a good amount of dialogue between myself and the director Patrick. I wrote the main theme at the story-board stage, and played it to Patrick on the piano, who left the studio humming it, so I knew I was on the right track. From there, I didn’t start scoring to picture until they had a locked cut of the ‘rough layouts’. This is the stage in animation before any backgrounds or textures are added. There was some initial motion capture done, so at least the character movements were realistic, but some of it was still placeholder ‘puppets’, that would float along the ground a bit like a tardis, and have no bodily movement at all. All the male/female characters looked the same, and no one had any hair, so I really had to use my imagination, and go over with Patrick who-was-who if I wasn’t sure. At the same time though, it was a very liberating experience, as most of the visual drama was still as yet ‘untold’, so it encouraged me to be a lot more depictive in the music. The great thing was when the backgrounds and character textures were added in, everything came together great, and I think the music was probably the better for it.

 

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How much music did you compose for the movie?

 

Aside from the demos, there is about 72 minutes in the film. Only one cue was left out of the final cut, as we felt the film needed to breathe at that moment (it is still in the soundtrack though, at around 1:35 in track 2)

 

When scoring a project do you approach it in a set way or do you have a set routine when you are working on a movie, by this I mean do you like to establish a central theme at first and then develop the remainder of the score around this or do you score larger sequences first or leave these till last?

 

The approach to this score was very methodical. The film’s format is a tried and tested one, and there is a strong story combined with strong characters, so it laid itself out very thematically. All the themes were written first, and then I wrote the score chronologically using them – with one exception; the opening prologue animation was the last piece of the puzzle to get rendered, so the first cue in the movie is actually the last cue I wrote.  It was very satisfying to write the score this way, and it is also how it is presented on the soundtrack. Every cue is exactly in sequence with where it appeared in the movie.

 

How much research into instrumentation did you carry out before starting work on KAPTARA?

 

Not much! There is nothing especially challenging instrumentation-wise in the score, and the use of the soloists was scene-specific, so it was really a case of capturing the right sentiment for the scene, rather than getting a very virtuoso performance from the musician.

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How does scoring an animated movie differ from working on a live action film, if indeed it does?

 

Well I think you have to work a lot harder on an animation! In the case of Kaptara, the music was adding an important emotional layer to what are essentially computer-generated acting performances. Motion capture was used for a lot of the body movements, but facial expressions and lip-sync were all completely synthetic, so the music really had to get behind the veil of the CGI and add the emotional depth that a live action performance would already have.  Although the score isn’t a Disney cartoon-like score, it does track a lot of the gestures in the film closely.  The director and animator had the freedom of having any camera movement and angle they liked, which was great for the film, but it also meant that the music really had to match that level of intensity, otherwise the film was in danger of coming across as a sort of ‘video game’ capture, rather than something scripted.

 

Do you orchestrate all of your scores for film?

 

If time allows, yes. I work a lot as an orchestrator for other composers, so it’s a step in the process that I appreciate. Kaptara was a little unique in that I wrote every cue on paper, and immediately orchestrated. I then sequenced the score in Digital Performer. This is completely backwards to 99% of how a score is written these days (although I’m not saying it’s the wrong way at all – it’s just a very slow way!)

 

Do you conduct at all, or do you prefer to monitor proceedings from the recording booth?

 

I am a trained classical conductor, and I also work as a studio conductor in Los Angeles, but I believe a composer’s place is firmly in the booth when it comes to their own music.

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The score for KAPTARA is due to be released soon on compact disc, were you involved in the selection of tracks that are on the CD and how much of your score is on the release?

 

Yes I did provide the track sequence. The sequence is exactly how it appears in the film, which is something I like very much, and probably won’t be able repeat on other projects. I think it says a lot about the strength of the script writing and directing that the score can be presented in this way and remain cohesive. Aside from a few very small transitional pieces, the entire score is included on the CD release.

 

What musical education did you receive?

 

I studied music composition and conducting at the University Of Birmingham, UK, graduating in 2002. In 2007 I moved to Los Angeles to study film music at UCLA, and I have remained here after graduating to continue working.

 

Did you always want to be involved with writing music for film?

 

The simple answer is yes! I originally wanted to write for natural history documentaries (even before the Blue Planet series put documentary scores firmly on the map). I haven’t had the chance to do one yet, but I hope to one day.

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The score for KAPTARA for me is very much in the mould of what I refer to as Old School film music, by this I mean it has real themes and is powerful and sweeping in its style and sound, what composers would you say have influenced you in any way?

 

 

I didn’t really go out of my way to score the film in any particular style – I just went with what I thought fit the imagery well, and what Patrick the director responded to. As far as influence goes, I think every composer rubs off on you one way or another. I’ve been very lucky to have worked as an orchestrator or assistant to a lot of different composers, including Danny Elfman, James Newton Howard, Bruce Broughton, Christopher Young, Garry Schyman, and many others here in Los Angeles, and I think I’ve taken something away from all of them – consciously or otherwise.

 

 

Do you come from a family background that is musical?

 

Not really! People seem to think I was delivered by storks.

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What would say is the purpose of music in film?

 

That would depend on the film. I’ve had spotting sessions where the first thing the producer or director says is “so we were thinking of music going the whole time”. I’ve also worked on projects where it is a battle to get anything in at all, without it being ‘too much’.  Obviously music can’t be doing the same thing in these two different scenarios. It can be one person’s security blanket, or another person’s editing tool. I did a film where they couldn’t afford all the ADR it needed, so then it became an all-purpose filler to cover up bad background noise. And then occasionally it can just be music, pure and simple.

 

How do you work out your musical ideas, do you use piano, keyboard or more technical means?

 

Kaptara was all worked out at the piano and on paper first, which is very unique in this day and age. Mostly I will write straight into Digital Performer.

 

What is next for you?

 

I’m wearing my orchestrator’s hat for the next few months on a couple of video game projects that have to remain un-named, and then after that we’ll see!

 

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FRANK ILFMAN.

 

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One of your latest scores is for the Horror Thriller, BIG BAD WOLVES, how did you become involved on this movie and what size orchestra did you use for the assignment, and what electronic support did you utilize?

 

 

 

I got introduced to directors Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado by sound design supervisor Ronen Nagel when he was working with the directors on their first movie RABIES, as things turned out, it didn’t work out with the original composer on that movie, so I was brought in to do a rescue job, and we got along great. For Big Bad Wolves, the approach for the score was very old school in many ways, yet still fresh and modern. We wanted a dark fairy tale feel, a bigger then life score, we used the London Metropolitan Orchestra to perform the music, conducted by Matthew Slater who also orchestrated the score, we recorded at Air Lyndhurst with Paul Golding (Lord of The Rings) recording and Casey Stone (X-Man, Superman Returns) mixing the score.

We recorded a large chamber ensemble of violins, cellos and basses, where we would have the bass section in the middle, violins to the left, cellos to the right. We divided the cellos into two sections A and B, so section B would actually play the violas parts when needed and by doing this we would get a more solid rounded sound to the work. The winds and brass were then re-played trough our ‘3 speaker system’ via the hall we arranged and was then recorded again for the surround and effects with different positioning. All the percussion we used on the more bombastic cues, again we used the same approach, by re-sampling them again via the hall and our ‘3 speakers system’, so we had a very natural sound of the space, yet more controlled to when we wanted to use the close mics for some cues while keeping some of the space with different areas to align any instrument with full controller. For the electronics my team and I created all these metallic rusty sounds from an old saw or a violins bow played on an old bike wheels and then sampled and manipulated them, so it can be played at any register. There were also some old analog Moog basses to play undertones with the orchestra.

 

 

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 How much music did you compose for the movie?

I composed about 125 minutes of score, over a period of 3 months.We then recorded and mixed 90 min with 85 min ending up on the movie. I originally started working on Wolves from late August 2012 till mid January 2013, as the film was re-cut again and had new changes that eventually effected the use of the score, so we had to do rewrites till the very last night before our sessions.

 

 

You began to take an interest in music at an early age; did you always have your sights set on being involved with music for film?

 

As a kid I always had music surrounding me while growing up, mostly from my parents who loved and listened to albums non stop from classical to rock & roll , beach boys, disco, you name it, they played it!. At a later stage when I was 7 or 8, I got the first edition LP of The Good The Bad and The Ugly from my dad after taking me to the cinema and seeing it, so actually it was Ennio Morricone who introduced me into the use of film and music you can say.

When I was 14, I was invited by composer Klaus Doldinger (Das Boot, Never ending Story) to sit in on a film scoring session in Germany that he was doing  and I just knew that this is what I wanted to do. I mean, as a child I was always sneaking into the theatres to watch some movies or with my dad as he loved Cinema, so I grew up in both these worlds even if at the time they were separated.

 

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Your musical education I understand started at the Jaffa Conservatorium in Tel Aviv, where you studied Trombone and piano, but you left after a while, where did you continue to undertake your musical studies?

After my departure from the conservatorium, I studied piano with an old school Russian private teacher once a week at his house, as we could not afford a real or electric piano, so my parents got me an organ that’s had two sounds so I could practice at least, when that broke, with the money they saved for my 13th birthday they got me a Synthesizer and I started to get into electronic music and sounds, the teacher then told my parents that I better off doing what I was doing in writing my own music.

I had some more lessons and decided to do it my way, so I learned by listening to any music I got get my hands on, read orchestration books, talked to film composers who I met about the process, attended scoring sessions and just learned by working. 

 

 

One of your earliest involvements with scoring film was when you worked on CHANCER for TV, I think with Jan Hammer, how much music did you contribute to the series and was this something of a baptism of fire for you as I understand you were just 17 years of age?

 

Yes, it was in a way. 

I got asked by a programmer friend who was about to do it, but had another gig to do, so he asked if I would be able to help, as he knew I wanted to do film scoring. I think Jan Hammer was based in LA and was sending stuff over to the cutting room, so we had the same setup of synth, the R8 Roland drum machine and other sounds he was using and just re scored places the producers wanted. Jan wrote fantastic main title for that series, till today it’s one of my favorite scores. 

 

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Your score for BIG BAD WOLVES has been announced as being released early in 2014, when a score of yours is released do you take an active role in selecting what music will go onto any release?

 

 

Yes I do, or at least I see what the label put together first and go over it, then maybe start to suggest some changes, which could be other tracks to be included and giving the cues  titles, names and so on. It’s always good to have another person listening and going over things. I think creating a listening experience of your score to stand on it’s own without the movie, it’s not the easiest thing to achieve.

 

1381619_550456325027230_1918613460_nIs orchestration an important part of the composing process for you and do you orchestrate everything that you compose or at times do you have orchestrators because of time schedules etc.?

 

 

In todays work process, composing and orchestrating goes almost hand in hand, as directors and producers all expect to hear mockups of the music and use it while editing or during the audiences test screenings, this is the standard today. Sadly as many films have very little budget to none for live recordings, composers are bound to do a realistic as possible synth mockup. I orchestrate as I go, both when it just electronic or orchestral, but sometimes it’s just impossible with the strict deadline and amount of music to be recorded and delivered these days, so Matthew Slater who is an great composer in his own right, orchestrate and conduct all my scores, leaving me to concentrate on the scoring part of it. I was lucky enough to work with a few directors in the 90’s who I just composed and played it on a piano to and then we went to the scoring stage, with the score been mixed and recorded straight onto a 35mm film in mono or stereo.

 

 

 

You have worked on numerous genres of film, these include TV series, documentaries and shorts as well as many features, what would you say were the main differences between scoring a full length feature as opposed to a documentary, or are assignments basically the same but because of budget, time etc your approach may differ?

 

I come from the world of cinema, my first solo project was a full feature with 70 minutes of score, when I was just 20, so on films, I am very used to reading the sub text, the sense of dramatization, even to read scripts in a certain way, but when I get hired to compose for say documentaries, directors may come to me when they want a slightly different approach and a more a unique score, so I would get involved in the early stages, others heard my scores and asked me to come in and score things in a more conventional way, but they want my sound and style so that’s another direction. The difference with all documentaries I would say in a general way, is that you need to stay as balanced as possible with the music, avoiding any manipulation to effect what the audience will feel, since it’s a very different way of story telling.  Shorts are similar to a film in your approached to the way you would score it, but in a more compressed way, there is not much time to develop a theme and get attached musically to your characters, it’s more about using short musical motifs and short segments.

And of course budgets will always play a role as for how you will work, using musicians for the score and so on, score mixing for films is very different to TV, so all those elements do come to play with how to approach a project.

 

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 Do you try and stick to a schedule or routine when working on a project, by this I mean do you score the movie in a set order i.e.: main title through to end title, or do you like to develop a theme firstly and build the remainder of the score around it?

 

On most films I will try and get a main theme and a secondary theme by just sitting at the piano and having the film running in my head, creating the main melody and harmony, until it feels right, other times it could be a set of sounds or some sampled elements, I love writing a strong theme that will make the audience connect and resonate to the movie and characters involved. I may compose a full suite for the director at the early stages, and it will have all the elements of the score and the thematic ideas.  

Once I have those nailed down, I always work chronologically so my starting point is cue 1m01, I always found it to be what works best for me, but its not written in stone.

 

 

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I think I am right when I say that, CUPCAKES is a musical comedy, did you have a hand in writing the songs or were you just involved on the score?

 

Yes Cupcakes is a musical comedy, the movie has so many famous songs both on and off screen, I stopped counting!

When I got involved, most songs were already selected by the director and the music supervisor, so when we had the spotting session, we started thinking how can we use the songs and the score, so it will not feel a mess with so much music going on, I was very happy that the director on a few cues decided to remove some of the songs and replaced them with a score, as we found them to work better in that way, so the score had a more prominent place on the movie.

 

 

 

What do you think is the purpose of music in film?

 

Basically, the purpose of music in film is not to be noticed for itself.  A score in a movie, has many functions, its all about manipulation or more about manipulating the audience. How to feel in a scene, where the movie is set, what emotions we want you to feel and when,  it’s the palette of colors by the painter, sometimes its done in a very broad stokes, straight to face and at times in a very sneaky way, I always enjoy it when you can sneak in your music and sneak it out, so the audience didn’t even feel they were lead in a certain way.

 

 

935955_550456291693900_1003710346_nWhen working on a score, how do you bring your musical ideas and thoughts to fruition, do you use piano, or another instrument to begin with then go to a more technical tool?

How many times do you like to see a movie or a prospective project before you begin to get set ideas about what type of music you will write and where it will be placed to create maximum effect etc?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A musical idea for a scene, could come from any direction, it could be an atonal sound, a set of chords, some synth, anything that will be evoked from watching the movie.

Once I have watched the movie, if they have tempted it, then I will only watch it once with the temp score, then I will have a discussion with the director, music supervisor and in most cases the film editor, once we know what direction and function we want the score to go, in most cases, I would approach the writing and finding the key elements at the piano sketching out my thematic ideas, if we decided for a more experimental or an electronic score, I would start by experimenting with different sound textures and sampling to try and achieve a more unique world of sounds as my palate.

 

K35Do you buy soundtrack albums by other composers if so what would you say were your most played, or even if you could maybe choose a top five or ten?

 

I used to when I was younger, buying vinyl or CDs of scores, but in the past ten years or so, I haven’t really bought any soundtracks albums, I do get sent some by records labels or from the European and British film academy.

I do listen on iTunes when someone recommends an album outside a movie, but I prefer to listen to albums that have no connection to film.

 

What composers or artists in the music business would you say have influenced you the most or have maybe even influenced the way that you score a movie?

 

I love the golden area of Hollywood composers like: Korngold, Copland, Raskin, Hermann, very bold and striking music, others are Morricone, Goldsmith, Barry and from the more classical world like Mahler, Ravel, Falla, Kilar, Webern to name a few. 

I think it influenced me in a way of been more experimental with my writing, you’re listening to these masters and you compose something and you hear your self go, ohh it’s a very Goldsmith or Hermann type riff, now how do I make it different, there is a Goldsmith, there is a Williams already, these legends got to were they were and are for been original and having a unique voice, so its that drive that pushes me to be original and unique.

 

Do you conduct at all?

 

No, I don’t, it is very rare that I will be on the podium conducting myself,

Conducting is an art form by it self, there are people who spent years studying it and can communicate with the orchestra to get the best result then me as a conductor, so I leave it to them.

 

 

1380816_550524128353783_509572376_nYou work in Europe and also in the States, for you when it comes to orchestras and also recording studios are there any preferences or differences between the two countries?

Both countries have amazing musicians and world class scoring stages!

Sadly I haven’t had the chance yet to record in LA yet, because of how the musician’s union system works there; I do hope it will change soon, there some legendary stages there for film scoring.

London has two amazing scoring stages for me Abbey Road and Air Lyndhurst, each with its own characters, I always work with the London Metropolitan Orchestra for any film/TV work I do, or the LSO on a movie or two if the budget permits, I love recording in London as its my home and I am very fortunate that I manage to do most of my scores with these amazing orchestras.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

551428_591348404271355_1254187825_nHow long do you normally get to score a movie, maybe you could use BIG BAD WOLVES as an example?

 

 Big Bad Wolves was exceptional, as I was working on it for a very long time. On most films, I would get about 4-6 weeks, longer if I am lucky and there was a delay in the scheduling or times are getting shorter! By the time they come to me, the film release is just around the corner.

 

 

Staying with BIG BAD WOLVES, did the directors Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado have a hands on approach when it came to the music or were they happy to leave you to your own devices?

 

 Navot and Aharon, are very hands own when it comes to every aspect of film making. They will temp the movie and will suggest musical thoughts/ styles before I start, its then my job to take what they envisioned both on screen and musically and put it into a musical language, I will start sending rough idea of the direction I am taking based on the script and some early discussions we had and I will progress almost hand in hand with the shaping of the movie.

 

 

 

A lot of movies have a temp track installed do you find this distracting or helpful?

 

Yes, most do, the temp is a blessing in disguise! it could be very helpful especially if it’s a new director and nobody is sure where to go musically, but it could be very destructive to a composer, as the director gets used to the music he has used and you end up fighting to be original, but ending up copying something and not been as productive as you can be. I always ask to watch it once with the temp and that’s it, but it’s not always possible, so I will mute it until I have a clean copy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MV5BOTQwNTM1Mjc4MV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwODQ3NjQyOQ@@._V1_SY317_CR4,0,214,317_2013 was quite a busy year for you and already 2014 is looking the same way, what are you currently working on?

 

We are gearing up for the album release of Big Bad Wolves both on CD and … Vinyl and I am just finishing my score for the ABC of Death with Aharon and Navot, we then start on the next feature from the guys called ‘Once Upon A Time In Palestine’, with a bigger orchestra then we had for Wolves, I have two more features coming up later in the year that I cant talk about yet, a new television series with supernatural elements and another soundtrack album release of a score I recorded in Germany a while back for a movie called Killing Girls, a very melancholic and haunting score, exciting times indeed .

 

 

Many thanks to Maestro Frank Ilfman..

Rahman Altin.

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You were born in Ankara Turkey, in 1971, when did you begin to take an interest in music of any kind?

Very Early. My father was a violinist and a conductor. The music was in my world from the beginning.

What musical education did you receive?

I’m an Opera Singer, a Tenor. I studied Opera in Turkey’s capital city Ankara at The State Conservatory.

At what stage did you begin to think that you would like to become a composer of music for film?

When I finished high school I was already a huge film buff. That summer I discovered the most important discovery of my life. All the films I was in love with have a common part. All off them were composed by the same composer – John Williams! And that moment I knew I was born to be a film music composer. I planned and shaped my education around this.

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One of your latest scores is THE BUTTERFLYS DREAM, which is a really beautiful soundtrack, what size orchestra did you use for this assignment?

It was a fifty piece orchestra.

How did you become involved on BUTTERFLYS DREAM?

The director, Yilmaz Erdogan, was a friend of mine. I heard he was writing and going to shoot a film about two forgotten poets. It was the goal of my life to score that movie. He worked with some other composers for a year and then one day he called me on the phone and said ‘I’m in LA. Come & pick me up, let’s talk about my film’.

How much time were you given to score BUTTERFLYS DREAM and how much music did you compose for the movie?

I had the privilege to work with the director 6 weeks as I set up an editing room in my studio for him. He did his final cut while I was composing themes. Then another 4 weeks of pure composing. In total 3 months with the recording sessions. I composed 67 minutes of orchestral music.

Were you involved in the soundtrack release of BUTTERFLYS DREAM, i.e.: compiling or choosing specific cues that would appear on the compact disc etc?

Yes I was the only one on the charge actually. I did everything on the soundtrack; I was the producer of it. The main job was to down-mix the 5.1 recordings to stereo. It only took 5 weeks of mixing.

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Do you conduct your film scores at all, or do you prefer to be supervising things from the recording booth when you are scoring a movie?

I conduct from time to time. On The Butterfly’s Dream, I supervised from the booth.

How many times do you like to see a project before you commence work on the music?

I like to see as much as I can, until I memorize the scene – the color of it, the speed of the edit, acting. Everything plays a role in my composition. With TBD, I saw the film so many times before I played a single note, I can’t remember.

Do you like to work in a set way, by this I mean do you approach a film score from the main titles to the end titles, or do you maybe compose a central theme and then build the remainder of the score around this?

I compose a central theme and compose around it. Finding the correct color of the music is my main goal. Then it sings itself. I only capture it.

altin_r-770x437What composers either film music, classical or popular music would you say have influenced you at all?

Ennio Morricone, John Williams, Jerry Goldsmith, Lalo Schifrin, Vangelis.

Do you orchestrate all of your music, if so do you think that orchestration is an important part of the composing process and by orchestrating it yourself that you relay individuality to the music you have written?

I do my orchestrations.  I compose with the orchestra, together we make the theme. Every single element of the melody line in the composition has its story in my heart, which constructs the main body of my music.

You have worked on video games, MONSTERS AND ALIENS, and also on TV series such as FEDAI, plus feature films and advertisements, what would you identify as the main differences between scoring a feature film and a video game, if indeed the scoring process does at all differ between the two?

Actually they are all quite same these days, in production quality angle. Of course, every field has their own dynamics. But there is always a client, temp love and a deadline. Only for my own compositions, I feel freedom, which I will release in 2014.

Also when working on a TV series such as FEDAI do you at any time re-cycle any of the music that you have written, by this I mean do you re-use any cues from say episode two in any of the subsequent episodes?

I usually do re-use themes in TV series. For the Fedai, I only scored the ‘Main Title’.

When working on a film score or any project at all, how do you work out your musical ideas, piano, keyboard or as is the case more often than not nowadays via more modern technology?

I always start to compose with piano, meaning my piano sounds from my keyboard. Then I build and write my orchestral mockup with the amazing sounds that are out there. I literally have all the Orchestral Sample Libraries available in the market today.

1 You worked on CANAKKALE 1915, which I understand was about Gallipoli, I see you are credited with additional music and end theme, did you come in after the score was written and provide additional cues?

Yes, the producer and the director of the film came to me one week before they locked their final mix saying they are searching for their final scene’s music. Normally I don’t like to get involved in projects, which have their own composers. But this time it was different; it was an epic historical film of our Independence War. And the part was the climax of the film. I only had a week to write, orchestrate, and record a small ensemble. But it turned to be a great one.

What is the state of the Turkish film industry at the moment, and do you work predominantly in Turkey, if so how do recording facilities compare to other countries?

It is in its growing process. I’m working for Turkey mostly but also exciting ones here in LA. For example, I licensed music for “The Making of The Amazing Spiderman” documentary, Star Wars Blu-Ray Ad Campaign, Marvel’s official Iron Man 3 Life Size Statue, web music and more and more to come..! J

Do you think that a good film score is able to help a bad movie?

No, not at all.

What are you working on at the moment?

 

Another astonishing film from Turkey.

 

 

 

Many thanks to the composer and also to Chandler Poling for his assistance with the interview.

Chandler Poling

White Bear PR

818-605-2237

www.whitebearpr.com