Composer John Powell discusses MM IV...

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Composer John Powell discusses MM IV...

Postby blackmocco » Sat Dec 30, 2006 2:09 am


SK: Before we run out of time I want to be sure to talk a little bit about your latest film HAPPY FEET (2006). One of the things that I've heard is that your responsibilities in this film went well far and beyond that of just being the underscore composer for the film. Can you elaborate more on how you were involved with this film?

JP: It started four years ago. I met with George Miller and he basically said 'Look, I think this is a musical but I'm not sure. I can't see how we can have one person making the music for the scenes where people are singing and dancing and another person doing the score. I think it's all got to come out of one brain.' So he actually hired me for this film and at the same time he also hired me for MAD MAX 4. He was due to be making them virtually simultaneously. I think he thought that every time he flew me down to Australia he could get half of the cost on one film and half of the cost on the other. It was a very pragmatic decision. Obviously, I was delighted. I couldn't actually believe that I got the call to meet him. I've always loved his films. I loved every film that he's ever done. I love the music in all of his films as well. I always thought he was an incredibly musical director.

So I sat down with him and he said, 'I can not sing. I can not dance. But here I am making a song and dance musical. We need to do this completely chicken and egg. I just don't know what to tell you how to achieve what we need. We're just going to have to start and each iteration we'll take from you and we'll pass it back and you'll pass it back to us.' And so it went for four years. That's how we did every musical number. There are some huge ones. Some started bigger and got smaller and some started smaller and got bigger. We just explored every possibility we could.

SK: You were preoccupied with other films during that time but I would imagine that you're fairly relieved that it is completely finished.

JP: Oh yes. I am. Basically for four years I've been doing HAPPY FEET on and off and working on other films - I think I've done twelve films in the meantime. I'd say that every score I did while I was working with George on HAPPY FEET got better. He's an incredible educator. For me it was like getting a Master's degree. That's what I told my agent. It's four years but I'm honestly going to come out of this a much better composer for film because he's somebody who has an incredibly honest and clear way of explaining what he's trying to do. He's somebody who really understands the fundamentals of storytelling.

I'd say UNITED 93 was definitely better because I did this film. Even though I sometimes call it my "hobby film" because I was paid very little money in the first place and then you do it for four years - I think we worked it out to be $6.00 an hour (laughing). But I was paying a lot back to George in terms of what I was learning. It was a very great moment to be able to sign on to this film. I knew I had to see it all the way through.

SK: Had you done song and dance numbers before this project?

JP: Not to this extent no. But the very first thing I ever did when I came to Hollywood was help out Hans (Zimmer) on PRINCE OF EGYPT (1998). Then on ANTZ (1998) we did a little. CHICKEN RUN (2000) there was a song and dance number I had to do. I've always sort of dallied in it.

SK: What's the status now on MAD MAX 4? Is he still on schedule to make it?

JP: You know, I don't know. I think so. I think George is just coming out of what was an incredibly hard process for him. He took this film on not knowing how he was going to make it and he had to figure out how to make it. It's not like any animation film you've seen. It's not produced or directed the same way. A large part of it is that it's a live action director making an animation movie.

He probably just wants to have a sit down for a little while. I know he wants to make it. The script is incredible! I've read it. I hope it's sooner rather than later but at the same time I think he needs a rest before we can ask him that question.

SK: Are you still officially on board to score MAD MAX 4?

JP: You're never really "official" but having been hired for it four years ago and then getting to the end of HAPPY FEET...I think George enjoyed the process of making the music. I think he felt that I was a collaborator who was almost worthy of him. I'd hope that he would come back to me with the idea of doing MAD MAX 4 when he does it.

"...and it was here in this blighted place, he learned to live again."
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