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January 17, 2008

 

Composer Christopher Lennertz
Laughing Until it Lennertz

 


 

Biography


Born near Boston, Massachusetts

Wrote first song in fifth grade

Studied music at USC under Elmer Bernstein, Buddy Baker, and David Raskin

Resides in Los Angeles, CA.

Official Web Site
 

Composition Credits

Meet the Spartans
Alvin and the Chipmunks
The Comebacks
Dr. Doolitte 3
Shark Bait
Supernatural (TV)
Gun (Game)
Medal of Honor:
Dogs of War (Game)
Medal of Honor:
Rising Sun (Game)
Medal of Honor:
Pacific Assault (Game)
America! (Hallmark)
Back by Midnight
Brimstone (TV)
The Fourth Tenor
Lured Innocence
Piranha (Showtime)
Saint Sinner (USA)
The Strip (TV)

Warning: Parental Advisory (VH-1)

 

Other Credits:

101 Dalmations
(Orchestration)

The Jungle Book
(Electronic sequencing)

Free Willy II
(Score Production)

Michael Jackson's History (Music Editing)

Unfaithful
(Source music)
 

Past Interviews:

2006
Moving in the Supernatural

2003
Taking the Reigns of Honor

2002
The Pen and the Baton

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Composer Christopher Lennertz

"...I think those who aren't musicians or composers don't realize how important music is to a comedy - so they don't pay attention to it as much. For action or dramatic films people tend to take much more notice of the music."

Christopher Lennertz


Composer Christopher Lennertz takes a few minutes away from working on season 3 of SUPERNATURAL to talk with us about his most recent foray into comedy genre, scoring parody films, his composing-partnership with Timothy Wynn, how the writer's strike is now effecting composers and finally his thoughts on having his work released on iTunes and AmazonMp3.

  Interview: PAGE 1 | PAGE 2
  Exclusive Music from
Meet the Spartans | Alvin and the Chipmunks + Warhawk
 


 

All Music Used by Persmission

 

 

Meet the Spartans

MEET THE SPARTANS opens January 25, 2008

 

The Comebacks

THE COMEBACKS was Lennertz's first parody project.  The film is a comedy but the music is an oh-so-seriously good listen.

 

Alvin and the Chipmunks

Yes Dave - ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS are back and in the third dimension.

 

   
  Interview: PAGE 1 | PAGE 2

CC: Well, 2007 was your busiest year of your career. Wasn't it?

CHRISTOPHER LENNERTZ: Oh Yes. I'd say so. It was crazy.

CC: How is 2008 shaping up for you?

CHRISTOPHER LENNERTZ: It will be very busy...because I having my first child in a few weeks (The Lennertz's first child was born just prior to the posting of this interview!), but other than that, it may slow down a bit for the next couple of months. It should pick up again by the end of the year though.

CC: What were you working on just prior to us starting this interview?

CHRISTOPHER LENNERTZ: I'm working on episode 11 for season 3 of SUPERNATURAL. That's actually our last episode before the writer's strike starts to effect me.

CC: So the strike is now starting to reach composers.

CHRISTOPHER LENNERTZ: Yes well, with the writer's strike we are the last one's hit: the music and the sound-effects people. So most tv shows are starting to finish up. By mid-February we'll be pretty much finished. Unless they solve this thing, we're going to be on a bit of vacation.

CC: I was going to ask you about that. Do you think a similar set of circumstances could ever see some sort of composer's strike?

CHRISTOPHER LENNERTZ: We don't have a union so that would be a big reason why such a strike is unlikely to ever happen with composers. I would say though, that the points the writers are striking over are definitely appropriate. Composers also have a lot to do with the broadcasts and later the downloading of TV show episodes. It's definitely something that we, composers, are really concerned about too. The writers have a bit more clout since they basically come up with the shows.

CC: Would you say that most composers in Hollywood are sympathetic to the writer's cause?

CHRISTOPHER LENNERTZ: I'd say 90% or so would be behind the writers. Even though its a bit of a bummer, having to stop work in the middle of a season, we all support what the writers are talking about. Some of the big-time studios and subsidiaries are making a lot of money and the writers aren't asking for a ton...just a bit more of what is their fair share.

CC: So without a union, composers are at the studio's mercy.

CHRISTOPHER LENNERTZ: Yes we are. You know in the early Eighties ELMER BERNSTEIN tried to unionize the composers, but it didn't work. It had something to do with not being able to determine how long it should take a composer to write a certain amount of music. Since a lot of composers work from home or in their own studios, there wasn't an easy way to gauge how many hours you work or overtime and those sorts of things. It would be very difficult to put together and no one wanted to really shoulder it. It would be good, though, if it ever happened.

CC: Well, let's change the channel to something a bit lighter...Now the majority of your recent projects have been in the comedy genre: THE PERFECT HOLIDAY, THE COMEBACKS, ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS and now MEET THE SPARTANS. Was this a conscious choice of yours?

CHRISTOPHER LENNERTZ: Well, it has been a comedic year for me! Actually, that's just how things lined up. A lot of interest in me doing comedic projects like ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS and MEET THE SPARTANS came from my work on THE COMEBACKS. Even though THE COMEBACKS didn't come out until October, I had scored it in April. So the people at Fox, who were also doing Alvin and Spartans, sort of heard what I had done for THE COMEBACKS and thought I'd be right for these two comedies as well.

CC: So it was a nice change of pace.

CHRISTOPHER LENNERTZ: Yes. I certainly wasn't complaining about getting these two new gigs. I really love scoring comedies. Probably 1/3 of my projects have been comedies.

CC: Would you say that it is more "fun" to write scores for comedies than other types of movies? Or is it even more difficult?

CHRISTOPHER LENNERTZ: Actually, I think it's harder. For comedies, not only does the tone have to be right but the timing has to be absolutely perfect or you'll kill the joke. For a drama, if you have the right tone, you really can't mess it up too badly. I guess I'd say they are both "fun" to do though. One thing that is particularly fun about scoring a comedy is working with the writers and directors. Since they tend to have a great sense of humor, they tend to be joksters and that keeps the process fun.

CC: So working on comedies, because of the people involved, keeps the pressure levels down?

CHRISTOPHER LENNERTZ: It lightens the pressure a little bit. but I think those who aren't musicians or composers don't realize how important music is to a comedy - so they don't pay attention to it as much. For action or dramatic films people tend to take much more notice of the music. Now if you look at some of the all-time best comedies like: Stripes or Caddyshack, and you can see how integral the music was to the effectiveness of the comedy.

CC: Now scoring comedies like THE COMEBACKS and MEET THE SPARTANS, both parody-films, must present another set of unique challenges as opposed to a general comedic film, like ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS.

CHRISTOPHER LENNERTZ: You know, with MEET THE SPARTANS we scored it as straight as possible. In listening to the music on CD you won't think its comedy at all. That's sort of the approach they took for HOT SHOTS or Elmer Bernstein's stuff like SPIES LIKE US. At a certain point, it is actually funnier if you play the music straight. We did that for THE COMEBACKS as well, but we did touch upon some of the romantic-comedy elements in there too. For MEET THE SPARTANS, I'd say 100% of the music was played straight.

CC: For a parody, how do you decide where to draw the line with just how close you write your score to what the original was?

CHRISTOPHER LENNERTZ: What we did for THE COMEBACKS and MEET THE SPARTANS was to write the score with the thought in mind that we weren't really parodying one specific movie, but the whole genre. So for MEET THE SPARTANS, if you take 300, CONAN, GLADIATOR and TROY and throw them all in a blender, that's what you come out with. It's not really one or the other. It's the stereotypes of that genre. That way I got to write my own score, so I wasn't copying any pieces specifically. I was using things that were stereotypical about the genre. For THE COMEBACKS, it was RUDY meets REMEMBER THE TITANS meets HOOSIERS meets ROCKY, so we again were looking to skewer the genre and not one picture.

CC: Is it easier to write a score for a parody or a comedy that is not a parody?

CHRISTOPHER LENNERTZ: I think they both have their challenges. In one sense, there might be a little less originality when doing a parody, because there are certain things that you just have to do: certain instrumentation and style. Where as with something like ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS we got to start more from scratch. For that one, we had to decide things like: do we want it to be fully orchestral or strings heavy or percussion heavy or how much electronics.

CC: Now was THE COMBEBACKS your first parody?

CHRISTOPHER LENNERTZ: Yes, it was.

CC: How did scoring THE COMEBACKS compare with MEET THE SPARTANS?

CHRISTOPHER LENNERTZ: I think they were very similar. MEET THE SPARTANS is a bit more "over the top" than THE COMEBACKS was. Since it was more of historical piece rather than a contemporary story, we could make the music a little "more over the top." THE COMEBACKS had to be a little more realistic.


 


Continue the interview (Page 2)

 

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