Video: How the composer of Deadpool and Mad Max scores movies
– This is the first sound you hear on Deadpool's original score. – And this is the actual synthesizer that played that sound. – And that is Tom Holkenborg, the composer of the Deadpool soundtrack. – This is the ARP 2600, used a lot on Deadpool for these kind of riffs to filter it up and to filter it down. – Its always been about the combination of electronic elements with organic elements. – I remember saying to Tim Miller, when I finally had in my head what Deadpool was gonna be – I said, picture Frankie Goes to Hollywood and Miami Vice, but then on acid. – That's your, that's gonna be you're score. (glass shattering) (cars honking) – Tom Holkenborg does it all. Originally known for his dance music productions under stage name Junkie XL.
– He's a DJ and producer turned film composer. – He's (inaudible) in traditional or orchestral composition – As he is in these racks of analog gear surrounding him. – And that's what makes him so appealing to Hollywood. – He has written the scores of major Hollywood hits like Deadpool, Tomb Raider and Mad Max: Fury Road. – Mostly from this California studio. – I love to uh collect instruments and I've been doing it since the early 80's and I never sold anything that I bought. – It looks more like a lab it looks more like um a spaceship if you will. – When someone thinks about film scoring, this is not the type of environment that they would imagine a score being made in. – No that's true, but it has a lot to do with the fact that scoring is not my background, my background is actually being uh an engineer and a producer in the studio and then later on a musician. – Back in the late 90's, a curly haired Tom wasn't thinking about film at all – Until he heard one of his Junkie XL songs used in a certain vampire movie. – Blade 1997 – No! Wait, your song is during the blood rave? – Yeah and the fights after that.
– It starts with a remix of New Order and then it goes into my track (screaming) – When you hear your piece of music for the first time in an environment where it was not meant to be – And yes, every music can play in the film but I didn't make it for the film – I made it for something else. – Then I was so surprised by how it worked that I really got interested in pursuing it myself and then in 2002 I decided to moved to L.A. And to really pursue this full time. – Tom explained that in the old days of film, the score was more of an after thought. – So the old school way of writing a film score was that technically, the film was already done. – The work methods with computers has changed film scoring drastically. – Before that, directors would never hear the score until they got onto the (inaudible) and they would hear the orchestra actually play it live for the first time. – So now since, 1984/85 directors are able to listen the score what its gonna sound like – So that was the big major change for that. – Now, a composer would actually get notes on the score – Sometimes you work on a movie where so what's the process, you have three completely different endings of the same movie and at a certain point they decide which ending they want.
– But you have to write for all of them? – Exactly, so it's this wouldn't happen in 1960 – It's usually not a two way street unless you work with visionary directors. – For instance that's the case with uh George Miller that I did Mad Max with. – There was once scene in Mad Max this very emotional scene and I think I've attacked that scene I think twenty, twenty four times and George kept saying no it's not quite right it's not quite right and uh so we were really getting up to the deadline uh to get this music approved for the first recording session. – So we recorded a couple of these pieces – One piece really resonated with the conductor and they did two versions of it and they did it really beautifully. – And the next day, I just slided one of those those recordings in underneath that scene – An George walked in and he said "What is this?" – I said it's one of these older things that you didn't like and uh we just – And he's like its beautiful – And then the music continued but then ran out of sync with the picture.
– And then George said "We should continue this vibe longer" – And I said well I can record another one – He said "No no that's not what I mean" "I mean the picture" – And so he immediately ran back to his wife and they started making changes in the picture, lined it back up with the music – I did then did changes in the music – Then they changed the cut and eventually he was super happy with the scene. (dramatic music) – I play four, five different instruments – I play multiple bands and I've always been a synthesizer freak hence the amounts – But there's also twenty drum kits and huge amounts of guitars, self made instruments. (guitar strumming) – It still has a little bit of the sound – Tom doesn't just play instruments he makes them, including this one he built for 300: Rise of an Empire. – He calls it the piano from hell.
– I took a piano, I hacked all the wood away so now you're left with what they call the harp. With just the strings on it – I turned the harp upside down. – I put a new enclosure around it – And now I put bass and guitar pickups in front of the strings and I play it with sticks and with mallets. – The reason why this screen is here for instance that low piano note carries like I think three to five hundred pounds of weight on one string – So if it snaps it can take your head clean off. – You'd probably had to have protection – Well yeah, when I play this thing – I actually wear like a riot protection helmet with thick plastic that takes it to the chest – So if it snaps, that's why I have this here – The pickups will take the signal and turn it into like a whole different quality of sound so it starts to sound way more like a bass guitar and a guitar. – Tom records the piano, and then samples it like this – So I use this actually for Black Mass that gangster movie with Johnny Depp. – It's so interesting, I can hear that metallic rumble – Yeah, yeah – Are these altered at all or are they straight samples? – This is straight recorded not even treated. – Were there films that were more difficult for you than others to find – Every film is difficult for me.
– Sometimes in a day the atmosphere might turn into such a vinegar that the fact that you play one note – Like one note is already wrong even though you know that on any piece of music you need hundreds of single notes to make a music piece. – Yeah it's hard every time. – How do you think film scorers will continue to evolve? – What do you think they'll, they're going to look like in the future? – I think film scorers will become more and more interesting as more and more interesting people will enter the field. – For the longest time periods especially from the sixties, seventies and eighties it always felt like, there's only room for film composers in this world that have a thorough understanding how the orchestra works, like John Williams or Jerry Goldsmith or (inaudible) – And now we're having a very interesting mixed bag of people with such incredible backgrounds – Even though it's going slow we're seeing more and more cultural diversity.
– We're seeing more gender diversity so it's getting there. (heavy synth music) – Hey all, this video was brought to you by aloft Hotels. – Different by design. – Hope you enjoyed and please like and subscribe. – Thanks for watching..