Composer Frederik (Freddie) Weidmann is really one cool dude. Not only is he a really busy and creative musical genius who's written solid horror scores for the likes of "Hostel Part 3", "Return To House On Haunted Hill" and contributed to his mentor, John Frizzell's unique thriller score to "Whiteout", but he's fast becoming a great musical voice to the world of animation.
With the releases of both DC Comics' "Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox" and his continuing work on "Green Lantern: The Animated Series", along with the upcoming, "Beware The Batman", Freddie is fast creating a new musical ground that will long live with soundtrack fans. His music is fresh and original, inspired and energetic. Every single element that you need to have create a successful film or animated series.
In this interview, Freddie candidly shares and talks about his growing up as well his work on the Animated Series and his past horror works which he's clearly proud of. It's a fun interview with a very cool guy that most soundtrack fans whose work fans will enjoy even more as the years go by.
Please tell the readers about what made you become the composer you are today and your interests in music.
FW: I think the pivotal film score for me was "Dances With Wolves" by John Barry. It was the first soundtrack I owned (when I was about 12 years old) and played it repeatedly. I just loved that score so much that I became a film music nut immediately. The next step for me was getting to know german composer Nik Reich. He worked in my hometown (Augsburg, Germany) and for the first time I got to see how this craft is done in his studio. A mind-blowing experience, and from this point on my decision was made. I want to score movies.
Let’s talk about your latest soundtrack release by La-La Land Records, “Green Lantern: The Animated Series Vol. 2” the follow up to their original album released about a year ago. Tell us about the series and what attracted you to it?
FW: I have always been a huge fan of animation. Not necessarily superhero material exclusively, but also the Pixar films, Disney movies and TV shows. Then being one of the few composers to demo for Green Lantern was a big honor for me. I gave it my very best shot. Then, once I got officially hired, the visuals just blew me away. So amazing what they created. The CGI animation was so innovative, it really was a very inspiring foundation for the music. Every time I got to see new footage, my head started spinning with musical ideas.
Tell us about the approach you took in writing the score for the series?
FW: We wanted it to orchestral - that was for sure. However, I did however get some very specific notes from the producers Bruce Timm and Giancarlo Volpe. The one thing they said was: “we don’t want it to sound like another John WIlliams knock-off..” (let me say that they love JW music, just not knock-offs). So besides keeping the score more in the Sci-Fi genre as supposed to “superhero” genre, I also fused in some more unusual instruments into the sound palette, like the Armenien Duduk, Ethnic String instruments, ethereal vocals, electric cello and Violins and so forth. Just to keep the musical textures evolving and intriguing to the audience. And all that combined, became what it is now.
What is your schedule like when you’re working on the series?
FW:I have approximately two weeks from spotting to delivery. In this time, I need to spot and compose the music, do revisions. get everything approved and mix it for the delivery. Its not as fast paced as some other TV work, but still keeps you on your toes.
Do you use an orchestra or do you usually work alone?
FW: Due to budget constrains we were not able to use an orchestra. Which is a shame since the score is very orchestral. So I did my best to work with approximately 4-5 live performers on each episode, either as soloists or for sweetening the synth orchestra. One day I hope to do a similar show with a big section every week - that would be one of my dreams.
Will there be another album released of the music from the series in the future? Would you want one?
FW: I think the 2 CD’s that are out now, are a great compilation of the 26 episodes that we got to do. Only if there were another season it might make sense to release another. I have written over 500 minutes of music for this show - on the CD’s are roughly 2 hours total, so there is some left over of course, but these 2 discs do capture the most important moments of the show, story-wise and musically.
You also scored the very entertaining and visually stunning direct to video DC Universe Animated Film “Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox”. How did you get involved with this one?
FW: Warner Bros. Animation approached me about this one. Doing a "Justice League" film was always also one of my biggest dreams, so of course I committed to it. It was an amazing project - loved every bit of it.
Was the music easier to write for this because it had a more cinematic feel to it?
FW: I wouldn’t say easier. I find all music somewhat equally difficult. To me, I always find the overall structure of the score a lot more challenging than individual cues. Figuring out the pace and up and downs of a story can be a daunting task, that in my opinion can really hurt a movie if it’s done wrong. Justice League has such an amazing slow build-up to the utterly terrifying and devastating final act - that I really had to pace myself in many ways, to really make that moment count. I love writing epic thematic music, and this project really needed that, but in the right moments.
How did you musically approach this as compared to “Green Lantern”?
FW: The important thing musically here was to differentiate the two realities. When we are in the real world, the music is bombastic orchestral superhero music. But once we dive into the alternate reality, the music suddenly becomes very dark, electronic, heavy and less orchestral. Once we approach the big showdown in the end, the score becomes more and more orchestral and thematic again. So here we had these two big ideas threading us through the story of a 85 minute film.
In Green Lantern, I had small internal stories to worry about in each episode, as well as the big story arch that reaches across the entire season. Structuring this properly with themes and orchestration was tricky to say the least, a lot more complex than a single movie.
Will there be a soundtrack released for it?
FW: I very much hope so - there has been a lot of talk about it. (UPDATE: La-La Land Records has just released a Limited Edition soundtrack for it. Details are below)
You’ve also just started work on the series “Beware The Batman”. Please tell us about the series and how you approached it?
FW: The music concept for this show was very different from Green Lantern. The direction was (or is): Electronic, Contemporary, almost nothing orchestral, experimental, Guitars, little bit of a retro vibe, fused with a James Bond/spy-fee. Wow! That is a lot of things to think about. It was a touch one for crack for sure. I spent over 4 weeks just composing concept tunes for the producers, until we narrowed it down to a nice and unique sound palette for this show. It is something I have never done before, which makes it a very fresh and new experience for me - it is exciting and fun. I really feel like we created a vibe for Batman that no-one has done for another Batman installment, visually and from a sound/music perspective.
Were you at all influenced by the previous works of the late Shirley Walker or any of the newer composers when it comes to the music for Batman?
FW: I was asked to specifically not reference any of the other “Batman Movies/TV shows”. They didn’t want it to sound like the (Christopher) Nolan’s Batman, or the other DC animated versions. So I was influenced by it so to speak, since I knew what not to do. I absolutely love ShIrley’s work for BTAS (Batman:The Animated Series) - such amazing work. We just wanted to try something new.
Did you utilize an orchestra for this score?
FW: No. This score is very guitar driven, with heavy electronics and beat programming. I work with 2-3 live players per episode, but mostly for the sound design and spy aspect of the score.
Are there any plans for a soundtrack?
FW: Not right at the moment, hopefully there will be once we get further into this show. We’ve only aired 4 episodes so far. I will keep everyone posted on news about this on my twitter and facebook account. (Details below)
Of the animated series and films you’ve worked on to date, which has been your favorite to work on and why?
FW: Honestly, each of these wonderful projects have such unique features for me, I love them all. Green Lantern is somewhat special in my mind, since it was the beginning for me to branch out into super heroes and animation, something I’ve always wanted to do.
Which has been the most difficult?
FW: I think the most difficult thing for me was to get the Green Lantern gig. With the lack of animation credits I really had to prove myself to the producers so they would give me this shot. Probably the most difficult thing I’ve done so far in my career.
You’ve worked in horror films in the past. Has taking on these animated projects given you some fresh air in terms of doing something tougher but visually creative?
FW: Yes, absolutely. I love horror movies as well and thoroughly enjoyed working on all these pictures over the years. I’ve become very good friends with a lot of directors of that genre, and I am excited to do more in the future with these fantastic film makers. It was definitely refreshing to do something more thematic for a while. But that doesn’t mean I would love to do another horror movie soon - I am ready!
Now let’s talk about your horror past of sorts. Recently you scored the direct to video sequel to “Hostel”, “Hostel Part 3”. Please tell us how you got involved with the film and why you chose to do it?
FW: I was recommended by a friend to the film makers, and that got me the job. My strong horror background made that decision easy for them too. I like Eli Roth’s Hostel movies, I though the concept of the story was cool and utterly disturbing. So I enjoyed being a part of such a great franchise.
Your score is very broad and very heavy orchestrially as compared to Nathan Barr’s work on Eli Roth’s previous films in the series. Was this your choice or that of the director?
FW: Yes - we wanted it to be orchestral (we recorded a nice 40 piece orchestra for this one). Unlike the other Hostel movies, this story does not take place in Eastern Europe, but in the U.S. So the music no longer needed that slight European feel that I feel Nathan’s score included beautifully and subtle. We wanted our score to me more aggressive, dark and intense.
You wrote what I personally consider the best score of the series. How did you get your inspiration to write such a thrilling score like this one?
FW: Thank you very much! Nice to hear that. I think the story and the director’s vision brought it all to life. Scott Spiegel, the director is a very talented man with an incredible vast knowledge of film. We had a lot of talks about old movies, and old scores; and I think having all these discussions is what inspired me on top the film itself to write this score.
Do you feel that the score is worthy of the “Hostel” universe that Nathan Barr created musically?
FW: Hopefully we made something that feels a little different (just because of the different setting), but we also wanted to make it feel as part of the "Hostel universe" and not too detached. I hope the audience felt that way as well.
Varese Sarabande released your score for the film after the film was released on Blu-Ray and DVD. How did you feel when it was given a release?
FW: I was thrilled. I think Varese is a fantastic label and I am excited to do more projects with them in my future career. I am glad people got a chance to hear this score outside the movie as well.
Varese also released two other scores that are horrific and exciting for it’s genre, “Return To House On Haunted Hill” and “The Hills Run Red”, which were direct to video films by Warner Bros. Please talk about these films and how the soundtracks came to be?
FW: Return to House on Haunted Hill was pretty much my first film, that I got through my old employer (Composer John Frizzell). It really was that one project that set in motion all the other great things I got to work on over the years, including “The Hills Run Red." Both films were lucky to get a real live orchestra recorded, and that's why I really pushed for it to be released. I find horror scores can be difficult to listen to on a Soundtrack, but I always try to keep things a thematic at least to some degree, and those 2 scores I felt could be a fun listen, if not for your Halloween parties!
How do you feel about working with such a great producer as Robert Townson?
FW: Bob Townson is an absolute legend. We’ve become great friends over the years and I couldn’t be happier to be part of the wonderful and truly inspiring "Varese Composer family".
You’ve also branched out into television with the series, “Turning Point”. What attracted you to this project.
FW: This job came from a company in Utha that I do a lot of commercials for. Its a wonderful TV show about selfless people in the world, that sacrifice everything to help others. The stories told in this show are total tear jerkers, just amazing. I am so happy to be scoring this show alongside Hyesu Yang (the other composer for this series).
Was it hard for you to come up with fresh material as the series went along?
FW: Not really, the stories kept evolving and they always found a way to make it different from episode to episode, so it was always inspiring to come up with new material.
What was the hardest film you’ve had to score to date and why?
FW: It’s a tough question - I don’t quite remember how I felt for each of my films, but very recently I did a great film by a new director (Tamas Harangi), called “The Advocate”. It was a tough film to score tonally as well as from a spotting perspective. Its a really well thought out story and some really great performances. So the tricky thing was to find just the right amount of music, not to heavy, not too light, not too driving, and not overpowering, to make this complex story work. This film took some try and error on my part to really crack it. I don’t think it was the most difficult one I’ve done, but definitely a challenging one.
What is your favorite film score that you haven’t written and gets you really excited emotionally?
FW: That changes. I tend to always like my most recent work the best. Not sure why. Currently, I am loving my Batman score, since I am working on that as we speak.
What is your favorite film that you have scored to date and why?
FW: Right now I’d have to say Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox. I love a lot of things about this one. It was my first L.A. orchestra session, a very special moment, I love a lot of the thematic material I came up with and I think the story was so compelling, that it was really fun to score it.
What is your dream project?
FW: The next thing I would love to work on is a family animation movie - something like “Up”, “Planes” or “Toy Story” would be fabulous!
Please tell the readers about your future upcoming projects you have.
FW: I am currently working on Beware The Batman (Cartoon Network), and a movie called “Abducted” (for Lifetime). I also just finished a great thriller by director Victor Garcia called “Gallows Hill” - shot in Colombia. That should come out soon - has a nice live orchestral score. Another upcoming film is Dave Parker’s super dark and scary thriller “Cold Water” - also to be released sometime soon. This one will keep you on the edge of your seat for sure!
I really want to thank you once again Frederik for granting me this interview and I’m looking forward to your future projects.
FW: Thank you very much - it was my pleasure!
Very special thanks to Freddie for devoting his time in his very busy schedule to grant me this interview and you truly are a class act and very cool! Also special thanks to the always great, Beth Krakowker who goes the extra mile for me and I'm very, very grateful to you! God bless
Also check out Freddie's official page at: http://www.frederikwiedmann.com/bio.html
Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox Limited Edition Soundtrack was just released today by La-La Land Records and available to order: http://lalalandrecords.com/JLFP.html
also available from La-La Land Records is both of The Green Lantern: The Animated Series Soundtracks: http://www.lalalandrecords.com/GreenLanternAS.html & http://lalalandrecords.com/GreenLanternASVol2.html
Freddie's bio Courtesy of his webpage:
Born in Stuttgart, Germany, Frederik came to Los Angeles in 2004 to pursue the career of a film composer. After a 3-year assistant position with veteran composer John Frizzell. Wiedmann started to work out of his own studio, where he scored his first feature "Return to House on Haunted Hill" for Dark Castle Entertainment, Warner Brothers in 2007. Since then, Frederik has written the music for a wide variety of feature film projects as well as TV productions including “Justice League: Flashpoint Paradox” (Warner Bros. Animation), "Hostel: Part III" (Sony Pictures), "Mirrors II" (20th Century Fox), "Hellraiser: Revelations" (Weinstein Company, Dimension Films), "The Hills Run Red" (Dark Castle Entertainment, Warner Brothers)and many more. You can also hear Frederik's musical contribution in TV productions such as "Moonlight" (CBS), "Reunion" (Fox), "Frost Giant" (Syfy), "Triassic Attack" (Syfy), to name a few. After adding 2 Annie Award nomiations to his resume for the critically acclaimed TV series “Green Lantern: The Animated Series” (Created by Bruce Timm at Warner Brothers), he then moved onto scoring the brand new DC Comics show “Beware the Batman”, to debut in 2013 on the Cartoon Network. Frederik's dramatic sensibility as well as his strong knowledge in digital music production and mixing has made him a highly desired candidate for many projects in the past few years.