The psychological horror film Marianne is a beautifully shot picture, making use of the mystical ambience of the Swedish Northlands to generate a sense of tragedy and fear. Such immaculate visuals are supported by a wonderful score from composer Mikael Junehag, who packs emotional frailty and eerie undertones into the music, which, in turn, evolves and converges as the film develops. We were lucky enough to speak to Mikael about scoring his first movie.
What first attracted you to Marianne?
I was playing guitar in a post-rock band, originally based in Östersund. Filip liked our sound and asked if we wanted to make music for the pilot. I, who, have always been interested in film and filmmusic was happy for the task while the other band-members weren’t as excited, so I took on the task myself. I liked the story and the fact that it was set in my hometown where I had grown up. I wanted to support filmmaking in Östersund and thought Filip was very brave making this project. Earlier I had made music for an animated shortfilm and composed music for a play with my band. As those had been very fun to do I couldn’t say no to this opportunity, even though I knew there were going to be a lot of hard work for very little salary.
How do you approach the score of a psychological horror?
I have no good answer to that. There are many things you’ve got to have in mind. I think that any films original story demands more of the music rather then what genre it is.
What are the main themes in the movie and how did the score complement these themes?
The main theme is the broken relation between a father his daughter, and there struggle to get along, While the grief of losing the mother of the family is hanging like a dark cloud above them. The father’s getting more and more psychologically unstable, being haunted by debt in the form of a mare. Therefore the music has elements of both very fragile emotional music and hardcore-horror, which is a contrast that builds the drama of the movie.
The cinematography and location of the film in some ways reflects Krister’s flawed inner self did this influence in any way how you would compose the music for the movie?
I’m very thankful that the film is set in the small town where I’ve grown up. In that way I think I’ve already been naturally influenced by the bleak landscape with it’s long dark winters, cold mountains and big scary forrests in my composing. I’ve also tried to add an overnatural aspect in the music to create a landscape where overnatural things are possible, in combination with influences by folkmusic when the film has an folkmyth-influenced story.
This is the first time scoring a movie what challenges did you face and did you feel extra weight considering it was your first film?
I would like to turn on the question and rather ask, what challanges didn’t I face? The nature of the film demands the music to take a large part in the storytelling and also to be rich in it’s sound. That means a lot of music to be recorded and a big challange for an amateur like myself! I play every instrument myself except for a violin and the voice. It has been interesting to see how many sounds you can make with a guitar. The fact that it is my first movie I made a score I would be excited by and I was willing to do my best. And I’ve learned so much! For me it has been an education in making music for film, which turned out to be something totally different than working with music in a way that I’m used to, but of course also very stimulating and fun which is the reason why I’ve been able to get through this.
What were the most challenging scenes to score?
I can’t point out any particular scenes I would rather say that the challange has been to put the entirety together.
The scenes where Krister encounters the Mare, are more intense, so did you feel more pressure in that you had to really nail these scenes to get the full effect of the psychological aspects of the movie?
Yeah it definitly took more time to create the music for the mare-scenes, a lot of understanding what’s going on in Kristers head and a lot of working on small details
Did you always want to work as a composer?
I wouldn’t say that I’m working as a composer. I’m just a guy who happens to make music in my sparetime. I can’t live on my composing. I’ve been studying at the same time as doing this.
Following on from Marianne, what will you be working on next?
Next I will continue to write music for my punkband ghostriot, aiming at making a first record. But I hope to get the chance to create more scores in the future.
We would like to give special thanks to Mikael Junehag for being so generous with his time!
You can follow updates about Marianne at http://www.twitter.com/MarianneMovie