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BACKSTAGE - INTERVIEW - FREDERIK WIEDMANN

With the Son of Batman – Music From The DC Universe Animated Movie soundtrack release available to own on compact disc courtesy of La-La Land Records - through the label's website and a host of online retail vendors - The World's Finest caught up with Son of Batman composer Frederik Wiedmann to discuss his work on the recent animated feature. In the interview Weidmann covers a host of topics - including the composing process, his favorite themes, putting together a soundtrack, and much more. Continue below to check it out.

The World's Finest: After working on Green Lantern: The Animated Series, Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox, and JLA Adventures: Trapped In Time, all massive, major-scale adventures, how does it feel to be brought back down for a more intimate story with Son of Batman?

Frederick Weidmann: I don’t think there is such a big contrast to those three films/shows. But you are right, Son of Batman did have a strong emotional core that needed to be served right musically. JLA Adventures: Trapped in Time didn’t have as much of a personal story, Son of Batman is very personal in my opinion. I think the “Father/Son” theme in the score was one of the first musical ideas that I worked out before I began the scoring process, knowing the importance of that thread, I wanted to get it right. There was a very intimate and personal story in Green Lantern: The Animated Series, between Aya and Razer, that pulled us through the entire season. The difference here was that it was a love story, and I had to pace myself throughout 26 episodes, for a very long time, compare to the 80 minutes of Son of Batman.

WF: What marks did you want to make sure you hit when composing for Son of Batman? Are there specific things that you think should be hit when working on a Bat-project, or a DC Comics project in general?

FW: Batman is probably one of the more tricky DC heroes, musically at least. This character only seems to work with a certain amount of darkness and intensity. The theme for Batman, it seems always needs to be a little bit less optimistic than other superheroes like Green Lantern or Superman. So that was my first instinct, that I needed to come up with a sound palette and theme for Batman that had all those elements. In terms of hitting specific things, thats an interesting question. Animation moves a little bit faster than live-action, so as a composer you have the tendency to hit more things in a short amount of time. But I always want these films to feel like a real movie, and not just a fast-paced kids cartoon, so I tend to hit a lot less, just to give more of a movie and realistic feel.

WF: Given the host of great composers who’ve worked with Batman – both in animation and live-action – is there a bit of pressure when being tasked to score a Batman movie? Can you run us through the inspirations you pulled from for Son of Batman?

FW: Yes, definitely! I mean we’ve had some pretty amazing Batman scores - wow! I can’t say I was intimidated, but it certainly felt more challenging to come up with thematic material for this character - that we’ve scored so many times already, successfully I might add - that is unique to our story, but also doesn’t change the “vibe” of this hero from what the audience expects. Justice League and Green Lantern seems to be a lot more “untouched” in that sense, so it feels a little easier to develop character themes.

WF: The movie features a host of fairly unique and exotic locations. Given how incredible most of these locations are, does it allow for more creative freedom?

FW: Absolutely. The opening of the film is Ras Al Ghul’s temple, so that was a great place to incorporate some asian instruments without making the music just asian music. I merely use these things as a layer on top of my orchestral, and more fuller sounding palette. For Gotham City I want to keep it a little bit more “noir”, with jazzy drums/percussion, muted trumpets and electric guitars.

WF: As a brief follow-up, how does the action dictate your work? Do the characters in said action scenes also decide how you decide to score a scene?

FW: To me, that is the most important thing. I would never just write “action music” since I see two guys fighting. There is always a story component to it that needs to be addressed. Is it the “final showdown”? A “revenge fight”? Is the villain losing or the hero about to die? Are our heroes superior and basically “triumphant” during the fighting? All these questions need to be asked and then the score will adjust accordingly. In Green Lantern: The Animated Series episode 13 for example, when Hal Jordon fights Atrocitus in the end, the music is very etherial and dark, not at all action-y. It was my choice because Hal Jordon is very close to losing a fight that would determine the fate of the entire galaxy. So I needed to play the weight of the situation much more importantly than the fight itself.

WF: When it comes to a soundtrack release, how much control do you have with it. Do you help pick the selection, the track order, etc.? Is there also a concern about track order – how the actual score of the movie might not play as well in CD form?

WF: I do all that work - selecting tracks, editing them, naming them, etc. I love soundtracks (especially from other composers), so putting one together on my own is a lot of fun, and I spend a lot of time doing it to make it the best possible listening experience. It could mean omitting a few tracks that just worked in the film but aren’t interesting enough for a soundtrack release, or re-ordering tracks so you don’t get 15 minutes of just action music, and then 15 minutes of sad music - it gets boring quickly that way. So it takes a lot of time and focus to get it right, and I simply love that process.

WF: La-La Land Records is pushing out the CD release for Son of Batman quite quickly. Any chance you can walk us through the process of how your score gets approved for release, up to the end product? How involved are you? Any other details?

FW: Like I mentioned above, I do all the selecting of the music, the order and editing. The artwork is done by Dan Goldwasser, who always makes incredibly beautiful album art. The guys at La-La Land Records do everything else - the interaction with the studio (Warner Bros.) and myself. They are an absolutely wonderful team, and every soundtrack is a fantastic experience for me. Their passion for film music is a great asset. I always try to get my directors or producers to give us liner notes. Being a soundtrack geek myself, I always love reading the booklet for additional information on the score.

WF: Your scoring work for Green Lantern: The Animated Series and Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox has recently bought you some major acclaim and award recognition. Do you see the effects of that, be it in project offerings, requests, and budgets? How does this help you with your future projects and scoring work?

FW: I feel very honored that people out there appreciate my work like they do. It's amazing and extremely encouraging. I am sure any public recognition is good for any artist, giving your work a different sense of value as well as suddenly being on the radar of potential new clients.

WF: As we start to wrap things up, do you have any favorite moments in Son of Batman, be it from the movie itself or from your score work on the feature?

FW: One of my favorite action cues was the Man-Bat fight in the arena. That was a terrific scene, and that cue came out great! Another great moment were the Lazarus Pit moments, especially with Batman and Talia Al Ghul towards the end. That place had to have a certain mystic and magical quality, I think those scenes really captured the mood of that environment.

WF: You recently scored JLA Adventures: Trapped In Time. Did that light-hearted tale provide a balance between the more somber Son of Batman? Can you quickly walk us through your approach and favorite moments from JLA Adventures: Trapped In Time?

FW: That film - directed by the great Giancarlo Volpe - was more for a younger audience, so musically we had to restrain ourselves a little bit and make sure we didn’t get too intense. There were a lot of great humorous moments that also needed scoring, which provided a bit of a new experience. The whole film had to feel a lot lighter than Son of Batman, so yes, I can say it was a nice contrast to be working on both back to back.

WF: What projects do you have coming down the pipeline that you can let us know about? Feel free to share the details!

FW: Coming out this fall is a wonderful live-action Civil War epic called Field of Lost Shoes, directed by Sean McNamara from Soul Surfer. It's an incredible story about courage and love, with a full orchestral score and choir, and tons of themes and dramatic moments. I am very proud of that one. Also coming out, I believe in the summer, is Victor Garcia’s Gallows Hill, released by IFC. This is a super creepy thriller that takes place in Colombia. If you like suspenseful movies, this one will be for you.

The 'Son of Batman – Music From The DC Universe Animated Movie' soundtrack CD release retails for $19.98 US, and is currently available to order through the official La-La Land Records website and other online specialty vendors.

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