Indie films have been a solid source for a variety of excellent music as composers such as Academy Award Winners Mychael Danna ("Life Of Pi") and Elliot Goldenthal ("Frieda") would definitely attest to having started their careers with the help of celebrated directors such as Atom Egoyan and Gus Van Sant would direct films that would require their strong musical presence.
Enter composer Kim Planert, a veteran television composer whom has scored such shows as "Castle", "The Unit" and "Lie To Me" alongside Robert Duncan to name a few. Planert has composed the music for the upcoming film, "A Reason" for director Dominique Schilling, who also wrote the very spirited film. Kim is a fun and easy going composer who certainly will break out sooner or later to doing future major projects in Hollywood.
While the film "A Reason" is awaiting its long and anticipated debut on the big screen, I had the pleasure to speak to Kim for this very special interview in which we discuss the film, the music itself, working with director Dominique Schilling and his work on television. So please sit back and enjoy the musings of this very fine composer.
Please tell the readers about what made you become interested in music.
KP: There was a drum kit in the classroom at school. It attracted me more than any other instruments at the time so I started playing drums in bands. And there was the added bonus of attracting girls as I was, by far, the loudest. But then I realized at the end of gigs they went off with the guitarist or singer while I was still packing up my kit.
Let’s talk about your recent work on the film “A Reason” Directed by Dominique Schilling. What got you interested in this project?
KP: It was easy to relate to the script as it is, at it's core, about people who are sabotaging their own happiness. I think most of us are guilty of that in varying degrees, especially in our western society. There is a voice in the score, sung by Lisbeth Scott (Avatar, Shrek), that I call the voice of serenity. It speaks to a higher truth. It's in all of us if we listen.
Did you spot the film with Dominique before you started writing and did she have a specific plan as exactly what she wanted the music to sound stylistically?
KP: I actually started writing to the script well before filming began. I like working away from the picture. It's easier to capture the essence of the story. All the main themes were written during that stage and some of these compositions made it to the film unchanged. I also experimented with time: stretched audio textures and pulses that represent the sounds of a clock and the passing of time. Aunt Irene has only 2 months to live when she calls her family for the reading of her will. It took her all of her life to reach the point where she finally has to open up to let love, forgiveness and acceptance in. That's what I tried to express. I find myself in Aunt Irene and that's probably the main reason why Dominique's script resonated with me deeply.
How did you and Dominique collaborate while you wrote the score to the conclusion of it?
KP: Dominique came over to my studio several times and we combined lunch breaks with several reviews. It was bliss to work with her! She has a musical background as a singer and grew up in a recording studio as her father is a very successful music producer. Although we didn't speak in a technical music theory language, it was easy for her to communicate what she wanted the music to do. Also, we are both German and would switch back and forth between German and English depending on which one was better suited to express an idea.
How much music did you finally end up recording for the film?
KP: 60 min total. Of these, 40 were performed by a small string orchestra as I was looking for an intimate sound. The orchestra consisted of Los Angeles Union musicians. They were just fantastic; led by first violinist and contractor, Mark Robertson, and conducted and orchestrated by Tim Williams.
Did you have to rewrite anything during the sessions?
KP: No because Dominique knew all the cues from my mock ups. It was just pure joy hearing the music come to life performed by these exquisite and experienced musicians.
Overall, what was your experience working with Director Dominique Schilling?
KP: It was a real collaboration where we each listened to each others' input. I have rarely experienced a filmmaker who was able to take a step back and look at the material without ego or insecurity.
Your music as also graced a lot of solid television shows such as “Castle”, “The Unit”, “Lie To Me”, “Missing”, “Last Resort”. In your own words, please share your thoughts on each project.
KP: These are all shows I worked on in collaboration with Robert Duncan. First as additional music composer and in the case of Missing as co-composer. The shows are quite varied, especially Castle, which incorporates a wide range of music styles . It was a great lesson over the past 6 years and has helped me to write very fast because of the quick turnaround on these shows where we have just a few days for each episode.
Do you enjoy working in television as much as you do film?
KP: I love them both for different reasons. I like that in film there is generally less music and more subtlety, especially with an independent film like A Reason. In TV it's about keeping the tension up and, very often, going all out - it's much easier to change the channel on TV than to walk out of a movie. The music has to help keep you hooked! The challenge with TV and the tight schedules force me to write on instinct, I call it my auto pilot, without second guessing myself.
Do you find it easier to compose for television as opposed to film?
KP: Again, each is easier than the other in different ways. The TV schedule limits how many notes and changes can be given because the air date is set usually within days of the final mix. Although I appreciate the opportunity for collaboration and feedback from the producers as it gives me the chance to refine the score, there is simply no time for major changes. Generally there is more time in film to come up with the material and there is also more time for notes and recuts. That was not the case with A Reason though. It can be a blessing or a curse depending on the situation and how you look at it.
If you were to release an album of your soundtracks, what would you love to include on it and why?
KP: There will be a soundtrack coming out for A Reason. It's ready to go. We are just waiting for the release of the movie. It's the closest thing to what I would consider to be "my sound". Hopefully, I have time in the future to produce an album that stands by itself in which I could develop it further and experiment.
Which television series do you enjoy working in most and why?
KP: I do like drama, action, and suspense. Maybe that has got something to do with my hobby of skydiving? But I really like Castle as I can write drama one week, film noir, jazz, or 70's disco.
Please tell the readers about your future upcoming projects.
KP: I have just scored a pilot for ABC in collaboration with Scott Gordon and Steffan and Marc Fantini. I really like working in a team with combined forces. It can be very powerful with talented composers such as these gentlemen.
I'd like to wish very special thanks to Kim for being so gracious with his time to talk about the film and his score. You're a class act and hopefully we'll get to hear your special score really soon. Also very special thanks to Jordan Von Netzer for introducing me to Kim as well as Dominique Schilling, who is awesome. Thanks.
"A Reason" Directed by Dominique Schilling will be released soon as well as Kim's Soundtrack to the film.
Please feel free to visit Kim's official website @ http://www.kimplanert.com for his latest and upcoming projects including release dates for the film, A Reason.
Here is Kim Planert's Bio:
"KIM PLANERT is a German composer for film and television, based out of Los Angeles, California. Currently, Kim is scoring season 5 of ABC's primetime TV show CASTLE, alongside Robert Duncan.
Kim has also written music for several other productions including THE UNIT, LIE TO ME, THE GATES, THE CHICAGO CODE and INTO THE BLUE II. In 2012, Planert and Duncan won Best Music in a TV Show at the Hollywood Music in Media Awards for MISSING (ABC). Kim's score for the film NEST OF SPIDERS won the award for Best Music in a Short Film at the Park City Film Music Festival in 2008. He has collaborated with several legendary music producers and musicians including Capercallie, Secret Garden, John McLaughlin (FIVE), Craig Armstrong, BBC SSO and the Scottish Ensemble.
Kim's talent and success thus far is based on a mix of both a prestigious education and extensive experience. He received his masters from the UNCSA School of the Arts and his Bachelor of Recording Arts from the Southern Cross University of Australia.
He studied under veteran composers such as Emmy-award winner Hummie Mann, David McHugh (MYSTIC PIZZA), Sir Prof. Clive Pascoe (student of Leonard Bernstein) and Jack Smalley (CHARLIE'S ANGELS, THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS).
Before moving to the States, Kim worked as a sound engineer and producer in the UK for over a decade. There, he recorded and mixed soundtracks for films including AMERICAN COUSINS, THE BONE COLLECTOR, and the TV show CROWDIE + CREAM, which won a BAFTA award for Best Soundtrack and Best Theme in the UK.
When Kim is not composing music for films and television, he can be found skydiving over the Californian landscape. The duality between his studio and the vastness of the skies provides him with the inspiration and motivation to create unique music that expresses the emotional truth of each project."