Tag Archives: Frederik Wiedmann

Remembering the Human Element in an Alien Invasion: Talking with Composer Frederik Wiedmann About ‘Occupation Rainfall’ (2021)

I recently had the chance to speak with composer Frederik Wiedmann about his work on the film Occupation Rainfall. Wiedmann has been inspired by film composition since he first heard John Barry’s score to Dances With Wolves at the age of 12. Wiedmann is the composer behind the hit Disney Junior show Miles from Tomorrowland, as well as the critically acclaimed Netflix animated fantasy series The Dragon Prince, which is from the writers of the popular series: Avatar: The Last Airbender. In 2016, he won a Daytime Emmy Award in the category of “Outstanding Original Song” alongside lyricist Mitch Watson, for the song “True Bromance” from Dreamworks Animation’s Madagascar spinoff All Hail King Julien

Recently, Wiedmann composed music for the thriller Hangman (directed by Johnny Martin, starring Al Pacino, Karl Urban, Brittany Snow), and two projects for Millennium Films, Acts of Vengeance (featuring Antonio Banderas, Paz Vega and Karl Urban), and Day of the Dead: Bloodline (starring Sophie Skelton and Jonahon Schaech). His credits also include Universal’s “Doom – Annihilation” as well as the epic civil war drama Field of Lost Shoes (directed by Sean McNamara), Paul Schrader’s feature Dying of the Light, The Damned, and Intruders

In Occupation Rainfall:

 This film takes place two years into an intergalactic invasion of earth. Survivors in Sydney, Australia, fight back in a desperate ground war. As casualties mount by the day, the resistance and their unexpected allies, uncover a plot that could see the war come to a decisive end. With the Alien invaders hell-bent on making earth their new home, the race is on to save mankind.

I hope you enjoy my conversation with Frederik Wiedmann about Operation Rainfall!

Thanks for taking the time to speak with me! My first question is, how did you get started as a composer?
Ever since I heard John Barry’s score for “Dances with Wolves” in 1990, I couldn’t stop fantasizing about becoming a composer myself. This slowly transformed into reality when my studies in Jazz helped me to become a proper composer. And once I completed my BA in FIlm scoring at Berklee College of Music  in 2004, I was ready to go to Hollywood and dive into the industry. After having worked for a handful of busy and established composers in LA, I started my own journey as a film composer, and have since been writing cues every single day. My first film was the Warner Brothers direct to video horror  film “Return to House on Haunted Hill”, which opened the doors to several more feature films of the same genre, as well as many other fantastic projects. 

How did you get involved with Occupation Rainfall?

This happened through a rather unusual way for me. Generally I get work from either my agents, or previous collaborators, or by recommendation. In this case, I got an email through my website from the director Luke Sparke himself, inquiring about my availability. He said he’s heard a lot of my DC scores and has been appreciating them for a while now. So we started talking and he showed me some of the film’s incredible footage.  I signed on to this amazing and hugely ambitious project almost immediately and we were off to the races. I think in my excitement i scored all of reel 1 in just a matter of days, and the rest is history. 

I read that you and the director spotted about 117 minutes of music for this film, which is almost wall-to-wall music. How did you and the director decide on having a score that long, because that is a lot of music to write for one movie.
We both are a big fan of huge, adventurous blockbusters, and some movies we discussed as a musical concept were “Transformers”, “Independence Day”, and even older films like “The Rock” and even “Star Wars”. We both agreed that music can  become a driving force in this film, and almost another character, an element to guide us through this rather intense, and emotional story. It is a lot of music to write, no doubt, and I am sure this amount of music can be intimating for composers. But to be honest, it seems that I generally attracted music-heavy movies with a lot of score, and after having scored so many of these type of films, it sort of becomes second nature and simply a fun and exciting process for me. There are some moments of course where we decided to pull music out., but not that many. 

Was there a lot of collaboration on this score between you and the director on this
score?
Absolutely. Luke is incredibly knowledgeable in film music. He knows a lot about it and therefore could tell me exactly what he envisioned for his film. It almost felt like I’d known him for many years, since we had really great synergy and our ideas complemented each other really well. It is every composer’s dream to work for filmmakers that not only appreciate what you bring to the table, and give you the necessary creative  freedom to “do your thing”, but also know how to guide you and “direct” you in a way that is nothing but inspiring. 


What sets the music for Occupation Rainfall apart from earlier alien invasion films like Independence Day or Skyline to name a few examples?

Good question. I’ve seen all of them, and I am total sucker for this genre (anything with Aliens, sign me up!). What I liked in particular about Occupation: Rainfall was the human component in the story. The script had such wonderfully nuanced characters, that are constantly conflicted with their beliefs and values, and have to decide more than on one occasion how far they will go for the greater good. And this very human and personal dilemma plays a roll not only for our heroes, but also villains (the human ones). I think this is a very interesting topic to focus on in an alien invasion film, something that goes far beyond the Sci-fi and Action/Adventure element. So in terms of the music, I think this becomes very apparent, as there are lots of very emotional pieces, and even our “hero theme” is more about “human sacrifice” than an actual  “superhero”. 

How did working on Occupation Rainfall compare to working on earlier projects like The Dragon Prince, Doom: Annihilation, and the DC animated films, just to name a few examples?
Like I mentioned above, the amount of music was very similar (given the projects mentioned here are a lot shorter generally), all of them have a lot of complex orchestral music. The big difference from let’s say “The Dragon Prince”, which is a mostly “in the box’ score with the exceptions of soloists,  to “Occupation” was that we planned on recording a rather large live orchestra, and during the peak of a pandemic no less (Summer 2020). So besides writing a lot of music and getting it approved in time, I had to account for a lot of time for recordings in London and Macedonia, and for orchestration (done by my partner in crime Hyesu Wiedmann). So suddenly you have 3-4 weeks less for writing since you need a lot of time to get 2 hours + orchestrated and prepared for the individual players, and at least 1 week of recording, and mixing. So that changes things a little in the process, but if you know what you are going to do in advance, and you have people behind you that full support you, it becomes an easy process. 

How much time did you have to score this film?
I had close to 3 months from start to finish, which felt very comfortable. 

Did you create specific musical themes for different characters or ideas?
Yes. One of the first cues I wrote for this film was the hero theme I mentioned above. A theme mostly used for our protagonist heroes, that selflessly try to save humanity, while sacrificing quite a bit themselves. The female lead, Amelia, had a theme which introduces her screen presence, the aliens had a dark and ominous, almost leaning into horror, type theme, and we had a theme for “humanity”, which is also not quite uplifting so to speak, but a nice mix of darkness and optimism that gives the situation humankind finds itself in a nice and authentic color. 

Is there any musical detail that you hope stands out to viewers who watch this film?

I hope the audience will appreciate the thematic treatment throughout, the absolutely fantastic performances of my London Orchestra record at the famous AIR studios, the gorgeous string melodies performed by my orchestra in Macedonia, and the more unique instruments I layered in throughout, like the haunting Armenian Duduk, Japanese Shakuhachi, several layers of solo violins and cellos and dark female vocals, representing the rather scary alien queen.

I want to give a big thank you to Frederik Wiedmann for taking the time to talk with me about Occupation Rainfall and I hope you enjoyed the discussion!

See also:

Composer Interviews

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Soundtrack News: ‘Occupation Rainfall’ Original Motion Picture Soundtrack Now Available on iTunes

Kaleido Sound is excited to announce the release of the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack for the Lionsgate action sci-fi film, Occupation Rainfall, composed by Frederik Wiedmann (The Dragon Prince, Acts of Vengeance).

Wiedmann has been inspired by film composition since he first heard John Barry’s score to Dances With Wolves at the age of 12. Wiedmann is the composer behind the hit Disney Junior show Miles from Tomorrowland, as well as the critically acclaimed Netflix animated fantasy series The Dragon Prince, which is from the writers of the popular series: Avatar: The Last Airbender. Wiedmann has been a main stay in the DC cinematic universe, starting with his work on Green Lantern: The Animated Series, for which he earned two consecutive Annie Awards nominations. His success on the series led to further popular Warner Bros’ DC projects such as, Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox, Son of BatmanDeath of SupermanJustice League: Gods and MonstersBatman: Gotham by Gaslight among others.

Directed by Luke Sparke, Occupation Rainfall takes place two years into an intergalactic invasion of earth. Survivors in Sydney, Australia, fight back in a desperate ground war. As casualties mount by the day, the resistance and their unexpected allies, uncover a plot that could see the war come to a decisive end. With the Alien invaders hell-bent on making earth their new home, the race is on to save mankind.

Regarding the soundtrack for Occupation Rainfall, composer Frederik Wiedmann had the following to say:

“This project was a huge musical canvas with a lot of room for creativity left for the composer, which made my heart race with excitement. From the first moment I saw a few snippets of it, I knew that this was going to be one epic ride. 

Luke Sparke, the director, and I spotted about 117 minutes for this 2-hour Sci-fi film, for which we both agreed that we’d need a big orchestra. It wasn’t an easy task to organize an orchestra of this scale due to COVID-19, but we managed to record in London at AIR studios, as well as in Macedonia at the FAMES scoring stage to create the sound we both wanted. 

The movie is certainly action-packed, with stunning visual effects and performances by the actors. But underneath the blood-pumping, adrenalin-spewing blockbuster facade of the film, lies a bigger, more philosophical question of “how far would you go for the greater good?”. I did my musical best to accompany the depth of this theme, using an array of thematic material, to underline the difficult choices that our characters inevitably face, as well as their emotional journey throughout the film.”

TRACK LISTING

  1. The Worst Is Yet To Come (2:10)
  2. Taking Fire (2:13)
  3. You’re Our Last Chance (2:42)
  4. Freed (2:09)
  5. Sydney (3:19)
  6. Gearing Up (2:46)
  7. Hail Of Fire (4:07)
  8. Ambushed (3:04)
  9. Sydney Destroyed (1:21)
  10. In The Outback (2:31)
  11. Hit Them With The Crossfire (2:16)
  12. Alien Pursuit (3:25)
  13. Red Sky (3:01)
  14. Apex Predator (4:18)
  15. The Village (1:53)
  16. Restricted Area (4:32)
  17. The Mob (3:15)
  18. The Command Ships (2:37)
  19. They Are Here (3:02)
  20. An Evolutionary Accident (4:19)
  21. Project Rainfall (2:09)
  22. Overrun (2:47)
  23. Avoiding Disaster (2:50)
  24. Guns And Blades (2:05)
  25. Kal’i Attack (1:35)
  26. The Standoff (1:38)
  27. Wing Commander Heyes (2:56)
  28. Behind Closed Doors (2:11)
  29. The Ascend (2:24)
  30. For Humanity (2:27)
  31. Reunited (3:10)

Check out the soundtrack for Occupation Rainfall, available on iTunes, and have a great day!

See also:

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Soundtrack Review: The Dragon Prince Season 3 (2019)

Lakeshore Records will make the soundtrack of season 3 of the hit Netflix original series The Dragon Prince available on digital starting November 22nd. The soundtrack was composed by Frederik Wiedmann (Batman: Hush, Green Lantern: The Animated Series), who is one of the most diverse and cultivated composers working in motion pictures today. With over 140 titles to his name in all realms and genres, Wiedmann has established himself as an insightful artist with an enduring passion for storytelling. Wiedmann has been a main stay in the DC cinematic universe, starting with his work on Green Lantern: The Animated Series, for which he earned two consecutive Annie Awards nominations. His success on the series led to further popular Warner Bros’ DC projects such as Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox, Son of Batman, Death of Superman, Justice League: Gods and Monsters, and Batman: Gotham by Gaslight among others.

The Dragon Prince Season 3 continues the stories of aspiring mage Callum, crown prince Ezran, the Moonshadow Elf assassin Rayla, and Zym – the infant sky dragon and titular “Dragon Prince.” Having been split apart after the huge events of Season 2, the young heroes continue their separate journeys: Ezran returning to Katolis to assume the throne, and Callum and Rayla taking Zym deeper into the unknown wilds of Xadia. The Dragon Prince is co-created and led by the visionary team of Aaron Ehasz (Avatar: The Last Airbender) and Justin Richmond (Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception).

Aaron Ehasz and Justin Richmond were ecstatic about collaborating with Frederik Wiedmann for Season 3 praising, “Without question Freddie’s epic and emotional score is what elevates the Dragon Prince storytelling into something that soars and swells our hearts.”

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For Season 3, in approaching how best to build upon the story arcs and emotional threads of the first two chapters of The Dragon Prince, Frederik Wiedmann said:

“The third season of The Dragon Prince offered an amazing opportunity to work with all of our established themes for the characters from Seasons 1 & 2, to take them further, and also to expand them into new ideas as this incredible story continues to unfold. We pushed hard to really dig deep into all the emotional threads in Season 3, as well as amplify the imminent threat and impending darkness that our heroes face during their quest. Once again, we put our best foot forward and recorded a beautiful orchestra for some of the most pivotal scenes in this season to deliver the most emotional impact possible. We also feature again the amazingly unique solo instrumentalists that we introduced in the first two seasons. It was difficult for us to narrow down which tracks deserve to be on the soundtrack, so we decided to make the Season 3 soundtrack a full 1 hour and 40 minutes of music. We hope the fans will enjoy it!”

You can digitally purchase the soundtrack for The Dragon Prince season 3 now! Let me know what you think about The Dragon Prince (and its soundtrack) in the comments below and have a great day!

Track list:

01. Ultimatum
02. The Fall of Sol Regem
03. A Lesson in Stealth
04. Hand in Hand
05. A Stupid Idea
06. The Breach / The Scarf Trick
07. All Hail King Ezran
08. Katolis Sunrise / Everywhere You Look
09. The Prince of Neolandia
10. Hold On Tight
11. The Weight of the Crown
12. Adoraburrs
13. The King’s Verdict
14. Silvergrove
15. Heartbloom
16. A Human With a Pure Heart
17. There You Are
18. Trustworthy Allies
19. Understanding, Love, and Jelly Tarts
20. One Feeling Too Far
21. Bringer of Tarts / Beneath the Sands
22. Shadow of the Ambler
23. Broken Links
24. Because She’s Rayla
25. A Single Drop of Blood
26. Weary Wings
27. Thunderfall
28. His Name Will Be Vengeance
29. Ghost Feather
30. A Way Forward
31. Noble Aims
32. The Eclipse of Lux Aurea
33. Midnight Sun / Draw Your Last Breath
34. Don’t Make Me Choose / Hearts of Cinder
35. The Queen’s Slumber
36. Manus Pluma Volantis
37. Prelude to War
38. Battle of the Storm Spire: Hold the Line
39. Battle of the Storm Spire: Fading Hope
40. Battle of the Storm Spire: The Tide Turns
41. Aftermath
42. How Could You?
43. Nowhere to Run
44. The Leap
45. My Love, My Hope

See also:

TV Soundtracks

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