Interview with Michael Price


published 5 June 2010
written by RG.us


Every good movie needs a good score. Wild Target composer, Michael Price has forged a long and successful career in the film industry working as a film composer, a music editor, an arranger, and a music co-producer for a myriad of hit films, such as, Quantum of Solace, Hot Fuzz, Children of Men, and fellow Rupert Grint fan Emma Roberts.

RG.us recently had the opportunity to speak exclusively with Michael on how he got his start as a music composer, on working with Jonathan Lynn on the Wild Target soundtrack, and of course, what he thought of Rupert’s performance as Tony in the movie.


RG.us: You’ve lent your musical talents in various capacities to such notable films as, Children of Men, Quatum of Solace, and Hot Fuzz, can you tell us a little bit about how you became a film composer?

Michael Price: I was an assistant first, to an amazing composer called Michael Kamen, who did Robin Hood Prince of Thieves, Die Hard and a bunch of other great movies. I worked with him for 5 years, then started to get work of my own. It was an amazing apprenticeship, but it’s good to be writing the tunes now.

RG.us: How did you become involved with Wild Target as the film’s composer?

Michael Price: I know Jonathan Lynn, the director, and Martin Pope, one of the film’s producers, looked at quite a few composers to try and find someone who could do all the different elements in the film – thriller, comedy, romance etc., and I know that Jonathan was particularly keen to find someone who could write strong memorable tunes. They’d heard the score to a film called Wild Child that I’d done a year before, which had some lovely tunes in, and lots of comedy too, and liked it enough to give me the job. Or maybe they just wanted someone who’d already done a film with ‘Wild’ in the title!

RG.us: What works have you contributed to the film’s soundtrack?

Michael Price: Pretty much everything that’s not a song. And I did play the piano piece by Mozart “Rondo all Turca” that you can hear playing in the hotel bar at one point.

RG.us: Can you explain to us your approach to working on a film score with regards to the process of matching the music to the moments on the film and how you collaborate with the filmmakers (specifically, Johnathan Lynn for Wild Target) in choosing the right music?

Michael Price: Jonathan is a very musical director, and when I came on board lots of different ‘temp’ approaches had already been taken towards the score. My job was to tie together the different musical moments in the film into a coherent score. So once we’d agreed on the main themes for the different characters, I began to weave these into the individual scenes. It’s really lovely to hear a score grow, and start to light up a film from the inside, and really help the audience enjoy going on a ride with the characters.

RG.us: Can you tell us about some of the other music and artists featured on the soundtrack? What is your favorite song on the soundtrack?

Michael Price: There are times in lots of film soundtracks where it’s great to have the energy of a wonderful track, and there are lots of cool ones in Wild Target. I’m a big fan of Imelda May’s work, and I think her music works really well to picture. It brings a real energy and style which is perfect for Emily Blunt’s character. There’s lots of other good stuff too!

RG.us: Was there any music that you worked on for the soundtrack that did not
make the final cut?

Michael Price: We mostly worked on a particular cue until Jonathan and I felt it was absolutely right for the scene, so I can’t think of anything particularly that’s left on the cutting room floor, but there are a whole heap of early versions of things. There are some films where there’s more left in the reject bin than there’s in on the screen, but thankfully this isn’t one of them.

RG.us: When working on Wild Target, did you gather any inspiration from the original French film Cible Emouvante?

Michael Price: I knew that there were some visual references to the original in the film, but musically, you try to find a tone that really suits the characters as they are on the screen in front of you, so I wanted to create a fresh world that was true to our film.

RG.us: In the film, Bill Nighy’s character Victor, appears to have a French inspired musical theme, and Emily Blunt’s character,a more modern UK-style. Is this the case, and if so why?

Michael Price: Sometimes you can find a specific tune for a character, and sometimes it’s an instrument. In Wild Target, particularly at the start, there are some beautiful funny moments with Victor practising his French conversation, so in some ways we began from there. We found that the accordion (which doesn’t often get a starring role) had a strange combination of melancholy, and of course, comedy. Somehow it really suited Victor. Rose is much hipper and more contemporary, but also emotionally very volatile, so I was trying to find a style that could change its mind quickly, but also had space for the potential of romance. Not that I can tell
you what happens, of course!

RG.us: Which song on the soundtrack would you say best describes the character of Tony, portrayed by Rupert Grint?

Michael Price: Hmm. Tough to say without giving too much away, but Tony always seems to get himself swept up in whatever mayhem Rose is creating at the time, so I guess my favourite musical moments for Tony are the brilliant action sequences which manage to be funny and thrilling at the same time, and where Tony often seems to get the last word. They were fabulous to score, and I tried to get a little bit of everyone’s character into the music, while moving along at an alarming speed.

RG.us: Did Rupert Everett, who played Ferguson, perform La Pathétique on the piano himself in the film?

Michael Price: Well, I wasn’t on set, but if he’s miming he’s doing amazingly well! I believe it was him, and I tried to use the Beethoven theme in some of the Ferguson cues, although in a minor key.

RG.us: Our readers are excited to see Rupert Grint in yet another role that is different to his Harry Potter character. What can you tell our readers about the character of Tony, and what they can expect from Rupert’s performance in the movie? What do you think about his performance?

Michael Price: Tony is a wonderful character, open and trusting, and somehow finds himself swept along on this amazing joyride. It’s great to see how he finds his talents and his place in life throughout the film, even though they may be a bit unconventional, and because Rupert is so engaging and likeable on screen, I think you happily go through that with him. I always liked Rupert in the Harry Potter films, but there’s a real warmth and humour to what he’s doing in Wild Target, which I think you’ll really enjoy. And he does appear to have some pretty surprising skills!

RG.us: You mentioned that you have seen and enjoyed Wild Target, is there anything specific you can share with our readers with regards to your thoughts on the film?
Michael Price: Wild Target genuinely was a pleasure to work on, and I think it’s quite rare to have a film that’s so well crafted as a comedy, by a really experienced director, and that’s also exciting and warm too. Although clearly in a pleasurably dark way! I can’t wait until it comes out.

RG.us: Can you tell us about any current and upcoming projects that you are working on?

Michael Price: I’m really busy at the moment, co-writing with David Arnold the score for a modern day Sherlock Holmes series for BBC One, and have just finished a couple of excellent British films – Island, and Siren. All very different.

Thanks to Michael for speaking to us, and check out his website.


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