Film composers panel: ‘All Quiet on the Western Front,’ ‘Avatar: The Way of Water,’ ‘Glass Onion’

Three of the composers who made it onto the 2023 Oscars shortlist for Best Score recently sat down with Gold Derby to talk about their films: Volker Bertelmann (Netflix’s “All Quiet on the Western Front”), Simon Franglen (Disney’s “Avatar: The Way of Water”) and Nathan Johnson (Netflix’s “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery”). Among other topics, the men reveal what iconic movie scores from their childhoods helped influence their decisions to become composers, what film genres they would love to work on in the future, and how the Covid-19 pandemic wreaked havoc on their production schedules.

We talked with Bertelmann, Franglen and Johnson as a part of Gold Derby’s Film Composers Oscar Shortlist Panel Q&A event. Watch our exclusive video interview above. Click on each name above to watch that person’s individual chat.

Bertelmann grew up “in the German countryside” where there was the “best cinema” of the time, and the film score that impressed him the most was “Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark” (1981) by John Williams. “As a kid I was completely impressed by that and I wanted to make more and listen more to film music from that time onwards,” he notes.

Franglen admits that the “Battle of Britain” (1969) film score by Ron Goodwin and William Walton, specifically the “Battle in the Air” music montage, was “an astounding piece of music.” Also, being that he considers himself a “synthesist,” Vangelis‘ score for “Blade Runner” (1982) has always stayed with him. “Not only am I not worthy, but I just could bathe in this,” he smiles.

Johnson’s favorite two pieces of all time are “The Mission” (1986) by Ennio Morricone and “Hook” (1991) by John Williams. Specifically with “The Mission,” Johnson recalls, “I remember being young and feeling music jump off the screen in a way that I hadn’t noticed perhaps before.” As for “Hook,” he declares, “John Williams very much scored our childhood.”

As for what music styles the composers haven’t yet written for yet in their careers, Franglen concedes, “I would love to do a noir. Talking of films you love, there is ‘Touch of Evil’ with Henry Mancini‘s score there, which is an astonishing work.”

Johnson reveals that he’d love to one day score a musical. “I kind of come from a songwriting background,” he tells us, “and [director Rian Johnson] and I have talked about doing a musical together for a long time, and that is definitely on our to-do list.” Hmm, perhaps “Knives Out 3” could be a musical?

Finally, Bertelmann says he one day hopes to write the soundtrack for an animated film. “I love challenges,” he explains. “When I’m getting asked for something where I’m getting afraid, I’d rather say yes and just hide for a couple of days. I feel the life on earth is actually there for to grow as a person, but also as a musician. When you always do the same thing, you get a little bit stuck.”

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UPLOADED Jan 13, 2023 8:14 am