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[Editor’s Note: This article is presented in partnership with Shinola in support of Brit Takes, our monthly dispatch on the UK film scene. As makers of modern watches, bicycles, leather goods, and journals, Shinola stands for skill at scale, the preservation of craft and the beauty of industry. Learn more about Shinola handcrafted goods.]
This week provided a rare opportunity to peek into the life and career of soccer icon Cristiano Ronaldo, thanks to three-time BAFTA-winning British director Anthony Wonke. “Ronaldo” is available now on DVD and various digital platforms.
The winner of awards ranging from Peabody to Emmy, Wonke’s documentary series have ranged from war-torn Middle-East in “Children of the Front,” to the Piper Alpha disaster in “Fire of the Night,” and “Crack-House USA.” His investigation into Ronaldo’s athletic career and global impact is accompanied by detailed look into Ronaldo’s much-discussed personal life.
Teaming up with Wonke for the first time is Ivor Novello nominated composer Walter Mair, whose eclectic list of credits include Ryan Gosling’s “Lost River” and Rockstar’s “Grand Theft Auto” series. He also scored Channel 4’s teen drama mini-series “GLUE” and BBC1’s new primetime drama series “CUFFS” (which just premiered in October), from the producers of Ripper Street.
Indiewire spoke with Wonke and Mair about their collaboration on the new project.
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How did music play a role in shaping the story?
WALTER MAIR: The film shows the highest and lowest points of Ronaldo’s professional and private life, so the story arc itself was the emotional guide as to what the music might or might not need to support. We often approached specific scenes in a different way where we could shape the story with music and allow us to go deeper into his character.
Anthony, how did you wind up collaborating with Walter?
ANTHONY WONKE: We worked with a wonderful music supervisor, Abi Leland, who recommended Walter. I loved some of Walter’s previous work, including “Lost River,” and was really drawn to his unique sense of atmosphere. But I also wanted someone who could bring out the emotion in an interesting but not saccharine way. Also, his classical background brings a really strong range across something intimate and personal to something really grand and cinematic.
Can you explain how your collaboration worked?
WM: After the initial spotting session, I locked myself in the studio to come up with sounds that would describe the key moments we wanted to score. Anthony and I met regularly to discuss the music, which was important for achieving the right sound. I have a small tendency to first over-produce the music, offering Anthony a lot of options so we can take certain elements out which often allows the music to become even stronger and more emotional.
Which compositions are you most proud of?
WM: The opening sequence called “Cristiano Ronaldo” is a great moment in the film. The music spirals upwards over five minutes and introduces layer after layer, resulting in an epic sound. “The Big Day” is also a cue I am really proud of. It was supposed to capture the uncertainty at the beginning of a match day – intense, unsettling and full of hope and optimism. For this, I recorded some of my analog synths which gave this scene a very mesmerizing character, warm, yet electronic and pulsating.
What sort of inspirations did you have?
WM: The initial scoring process was about finding the right sounds for the film. Anthony and I listened to music we both liked and discussed what sounds or instruments we envisioned for this film. This was a very creative process without any rules or boundaries. We connected certain scenes or locations with sounds rather than existing film soundtracks, which made this journey challenging yet incredibly rewarding when it all comes together. Ronaldo’s past and early childhood features piano and strings, which we recorded at Abbey Road Studios. Big games and the tension leading up to certain events are treated with an array of synthesizer and electronic sounds, blended with real instruments I recorded and treated with effects afterwards.
What hopes do you have for Ronaldo’s soundtrack- or is it more tied to telling the story itself?
WM: Our goal was to be imaginative and simple at the same time. When you listen to “Growing Up” you can literally hear Ronaldo’s youth, the playfulness that was captured in the picture. I think the music really works on its own where it tells small stories which all come alive and make sense when you watch the film.
What’s next for you, Walter?
WM: Earlier this year, I completed the thriller “Blood Orange” starring Iggy Pop, which will be released in spring 2016. I am also working on a new prime time TV series for the BBC called “Cuffs.” Next up is a very exciting sci-fi movie, which I will be scoring in the next few months.
Any tips for directors seeking composers — or composers working with directors?
WM: I think this goes both ways – take your time and allow yourself and the other person to develop your very own language to discuss music. Some directors use a more precise terminology whilst others use emotions to describe what it is they are after. Even though music is omnipresent we all have different experiences and auditory habits which require us to listen to each other and find a common musical language for each film.
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This article is presented in partnership with Shinola in support of Brit Takes, our monthly dispatch on the UK film scene. Detroit based design brand Shinola was conceived with the belief that products should be made by hand and built to last. As makers of modern watches, bicycles, leather goods, and journals, Shinola stands for skill at scale, the preservation of craft and the beauty of industry. Learn more about Shinola handcrafted goods.
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