"The music supports Dolph's character in a lot of ways more than the action I think"

How did you get to start working with Dolph Lundgren on the Sidney J. Furie picture DIRECT ACTION ?
Well my family and his family are sort of friends, so that’s how I know Dolph from the beginning. With Direct Action I can’t remember exactly, that must have been five years ago or something? A year earlier or so, I met Dolph and his wife, we had lunch, and I had been working on a lot of Swedish movies and stuff. And then he went to Canada to shoot DIRECT ACTION with Sidney, and suddenly they needed a composer and Dolph thought of me and asked me if I wanted to send some stuff over. So I sent some stuff to Sidney and he liked it and then they flew me over to Canada to meet with Sidney. So I brought my laptop and I started working on the score as we were in the editing room.

You probably didn’t have a lot of time on this movie?
No, I think we had maybe four weeks or something like that…

How was working with Sidney J. Furie?
Sidney really didn’t have much opinions on what I did, he thought most what what I did was pretty cool, so he let me do my thing. As I remember I don’t think they had a temp track, because as I started making music in the editing suite they used a lot of my cues as a temp score. So I think I did four or five cues when we were in Canada, so I was sitting in the same room, working with the editor and Dolph. Dolph was actually doing lot of the editing at that time.

I heard Dolph was very involved in the process, almost co-directing with Sidney?
Yeah, I think he was actually much more involved than Sidney was in the post-production process. As you know, Dolph has been taking a bigger interest in his career during the last five or six years and this is was probably the movie when he thought of doing this. On the movies preceding that one, I think he sort of lost it because they screwed a lot of money around, after the shooting was finished. But then he thought to take a bigger interest in the output on the screen. He saw that his career was suffering from not getting as good as results as he could get in…

And six month later Dolph stepped up to direct THE DEFENDER.
Exactly, Sidney got ill, he actually was supposed to do that movie.

So then Dolph called you for the score, how did you collaborate?
For that picture, there was a lot of temp music on the edit. But most of it, Dolph and I thought was overly dramatic, which happened for two reasons I think. First the editor had a flare for the dramatic stuff, he really liked to dramatize stuff with music and you can see that's not really the type of music Dolph likes to work with his score music has to be understating the action I think. Also that was the second movie that Dolph shot and what happens frequently when you're seating in the editing for two or three months, everybody has seen all the shots thirty or forty times, you've seen the movie a number times and you start to think it's boring! So how do you get around that? Well you do put on some more dramatic music, to get the feeling that you're no longer getting. So that was sort of the starting point of that, but both Dolph and I felt that the movie needed something much cooler and less dramatic. So we discussed various styles and movies that we like. This was sort of the same period that the BOURNE movies came out, so we looked at those. The score is not really similar to that but the approach is the same. The score music in BOURNE movies in the same way is not overly dramatic.

Yes in THE DEFENDER it accompanies it and is pretty cool and a step up from DIRECT ACTION which was more generic. THE DEFENDER's score has more layers and depth to it for a non-stop action shoot them up...
Every nine minutes you know, somebody has to die!

The picture had enough drama in it so that you didn't need to bring up the violence and all that with the music.
That's what I feel too! I think the setting of the movie is pretty cool too and it's a little bit old-school with the cold war stuff.

It's also like old westerns or John Carpenter's ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13.
That's the reason we got that sound I think. Dolph felt that the movie needed something that was cool. Dolph likes stuff that is quite funky, he likes a lot of beats, a lot of percussions, and stuff that's got a little bit of an edge.

So now you've reunited for COMMAND PERFORMANCE. Do you think the fact that he's a musician affects his approach to music when it comes to the score?
A little bit. He's definitely paying more attention to sound stuff than other stuff. He's not really interested in what kind of instruments we're using and stuff like that, but what he does take interest in, is the tempo and the groove that the music has. He likes stuff that supports the editing and the action in that way. For me usually it's the way I like to work as well because I think that timing is everything anyway, it's by far the most important component in music.

What did you think when you heard about the project?
I thought it sounded pretty cool actually, it's little off beat. I like the fact that this movie is a bit different from the other movies because Dolph actually has a sidekick in this one. I think in DIRECT ACTION, and even in THE DEFENDER he's got a team but at the end of the day it's pretty much Dolph against the world. The set up in COMMAND PERFORMANCE is a little bit different which is pretty cool I think.

He is more vulnerable and kicks less ass, different from the characters he usually plays and that one of the challenges he wanted to take on this one...
Definitely. And there's a also a bit of comedy, it's actually quite funny!

With the movie's musical theme of the movie, was there any question to do a rock 'n roll score with maybe lots of guitars?
No not really, what we tried to do was to use a lot of drums in a few cues. But we never even discussed a rock n' roll score actually. I sort of toyed with the idea for a few seconds and then I threw it away.

Maybe it would have been overkill with the songs. The movie is tongue in cheek but it also has dramatic elements that makes it a drama as well, so in that way the music brings you back to this reality.
Yeah that's what I feel too and also in two of those more dramatic moments the music is quite important too. The music supports Dolph's character in a lot of ways more than the action I think.

What are influences because some cues sound reminiscent of the score from COLLATERAL?
Ok cool. I didn't think about that. I don't know I've only seen it once actually I can't say that I remember that score. Did James Newton Howard score that?

There was several composers actually.
That's right yeah, Michael Mann fires composers! He gets two cues and then he gets a new composer!

He uses a lot of stuff, the composer here is Antonio Pinto.
Yeah yeah I know which cue you're thinking about. That is a little bit similar actually, and it's probably because there's some kind of flute or something...

Yes, which is not a bad thing, it's a good cue!
Yeah yeah definitely. It's also a bit of a fashion thing actually. Sometimes ethnic instruments just their way into a lot of scores. Ethnic woodwinds used to be a novelty or an unusual thing a few years ago but now as soon as you're gonna turn on the TV you're gonna hear duduk! That's just the way it goes I think. The first guy to use the duduk was actually Elia Cmiral (THE MECHANIK, MISSIONARY MAN), he did the score for the Robert DeNiro movie RONIN, which is a pretty cool score by the way. Some people hated it but I liked it a lot, and it's got a mad car chase scene in it that's just out of this world! So back then nobody was using duduk and stuff like that and then I used it for ZOZO, that must have been four years ago, and even four years ago it wasn't that usual and then came along. It's part of globalization I guess, which is pretty cool. But other than that, I get pretty much free hands when I'm working with Dolph. I usually send him a lot of stuff before we start working. But usually it's a lot of my stuff, and when it comes to temp tracks I like to provide him with temp tracks myself. Because that way I sort of have a little bit of control over what flavor sneak into the editing room or not.

And it's better for the editor, because he's gonna have a sense of your style and it can help him to cut the picture.
Yeah it is, definitely. Like you're saying for the style of the movie everybody knows what we're going to do. I like to work that way, I think it makes everybody feels comfortable, secure, and knows what we're working to achieve and that will make us get a good result and work in peace and quiet.

How did the process go, did you spot the picture with Dolph and the editor?
Yeah I went to Pinewood, they were editing in London, so we had a spotting session in London, me, Peter Hollywood, and Dolph. And from that I started supplying them with more cues and tracks. It's been a quite long process, to all of us because you know Peter was quite involved in the post-production of the movie. So we thought of actually adding and took away stuff, up until the week of the final mix.

How did long did you have to work?
I had a little more time on this one, I don't remember exactly how much it was but six or seven weeks maybe, after picture-lock. It's ok, I also think it's an indication that Dolph is getting more and more involved and more and more aware of what he's doing. In the mixing week he started to take out cues from he movie. It's a sign of two things: one is that Dolph is developing his craft and his taste for what he wants and what he doesn't want, and the other thing it indicates it that the movie is actually one of the better ones I think.

Good enough that you don't need to fill in with some music...
Exactly because usually with this kind of movie, once the movie starts it never really stops, it goes on and off. I think in THE DEFENDER we probably had eighty minutes of music on that one.

It pretty much doesn't stop...
No, exactly, it's world war basically, which I think kind works in that movie.

If you have a good story and characters you get involved with, too much music can get you out of it...
Definitely I think so. So it's a good thing and sometimes it's pretty cool to just be silent.

And in the best movies when it's been silent for a while and the music comes up the effects is all the more effective.
Exactly, and that's sort of more the vibe I'm used to, which is why I like to do it that way. A Scandinavian movie, a ninety minutes movie,would have maybe forty minutes of music. That's half of what we're doing with Dolph's movies from that genre.

How is is different to work on Dolph's pictures compared to the Scandinavian movies and TV shows that you're used to?
The obvious difference, I would say, is the amount of music. For a number of reasons I think, the sort of stories that we tell and, you know the average Swedish movie is very different from what we're doing with Dolph. And even if we have a lot of time, there's more time actually, both to make the movie and to do the score, for what I'm doing in my regular Swedish projects. But that said, I think when it comes to get action on the screen, what Dolph is able to pull off nowadays it's quite impressive actually.

You usually score more art-house independent movies?
Yeah that's what we're used to so a lot of them are. When it comes to that sometimes the director really doesn't want any music at all. It's quite the opposite, totally the other way around. I did a Danish movie a couple of years ago, and I think I was working on that for six months, on and off, and we ended up having eleven minutes of music! So that's really two minutes every months!

That must have been frustrating...
Yeah it was actually! I think I did some of my best work on that movie. It was extra frustrating because that movie didn't do very well! And it was a very good director, it was her second movie, and her first movie won the Silver Bear in Berlin so everybody sort of hoping for this one and unfortunately this movie wasn't as good as the first one. The movie sort of just opened and next week they took it away, that was that! That's the way it is sometimes you spend two days working on something and it's a big fucking success, sometimes you spend years working on something that nobody cares about! That would be the biggest difference in a lot of cases there is not so much of music. Compared to what we do in the police and action genre, our kinds of movies are so different, so adding music can be ridiculous. Because the scope of movies in Scandinavia, many movies are quite really small so when you add too much music it can get ridiculous and over the top, it's not the sort of movies asking for it. It's a much smaller expression I think.

And more subtle, sometimes a small cue can be very effective, emotionally. The best music is the simplest.
Definitely. I'm a big fan of simple things. French and Europeans movies are quite similar. Europeans tend to do things a little bit differently anyway. If you look the guys who are doing really well right now, Dario Marianelli and Alexandre Desplat. Even if they do compose music for big Hollywood productions, they're bring in a sort of European aesthetic to the project and they do stuff differently from Hans Zimmer and Klaus Badelt, in a good way.

So you didn't get to do ICARUS?
No I don't know who's doing that actually. I'm not sure how involved Dolph actually is in that project now. It also has to do with tax issues I think he had to choose a Canadian composer actually. But I know Dolph sort of had a fall out with the producers... He wanted to bring in Peter Hollywood as well and that didn't happen as well but from what I've seen it looks pretty cool actually. But he's got some other weird shit in the pile!

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