A 2016 Australian-American-British drama directed by Garth Davis and written by Luke Davies, LION tells the story of Saroo Brierley who at the age of five got separated from his family in India, whilst he was waiting at a train station for his brother who never returned. After living on the streets of Calcutta for three weeks he was picked up by an orphanage and later adopted by an Australian couple. Based on the non-fiction book A Long Way Home by Saroo Brierley the film explores the dynamics of our hyper-connected world and how Saroo managed to track down his family using Google Earth.
The film stars Dev Patel, Rooney Mara, David Wenham and Nicole Kidman. We had the pleasure of catching up with Dustin O'Halloran & Hauschka who wrote the film score:
Congratulations to you on your collaboration and your beautiful score to LION, which has had fantastic reviews. Please, could you both introduce yourselves and the music/instruments, which you specialise in?
Hi, I am Volker Bertelmann aka Hauschka, and I play the piano. I am best known for my performances with prepared piano.
We know that you two have been friends for quite some time, but was this your first time working together?
Well we did one concert together, and we toured together, but it's the first time actually writing music together.
How did you balance the creative process between you?
We started by working in our respective studios to discover what each of our approaches to the piece would be. We sent these ideas back and forth, without getting too attached to it and let the other one work with it as an inspiration. Then after three weeks, we met up in LA and worked from there on the score together.
How long did it take you to write the score for LION?
In total, I would say eight weeks.
It’s a film which plays on emotions and the family relationships. How do you manage to create the right tone to evoke these feelings?
With this movie, it was very hard to find a sensitivity to the emotions. As it is very touching, you have to step back and restrain the music so that it is supporting the acting.
We played a lot of times piano to picture just to get a sense of tempo and tonality.
We recently interviewed the neo-classical composer Ilan Eshkeri, and we were discussing how music is the ‘soul of the movie.’ What process do you go through to understand the script, the character and the story being told to achieve this?
The movie was already finished, so we never read the script … but we saw the finished movie, which told us in quite a direct way what we had to do. The acting and the story was deeply moving to us both, and we felt attached to it straight away.
In your opinion what are the most emotive parts of LION through both the film and score?
Well for me it is when he finds his mother but also the first part where the little kid gets lost.
I have a son the same age, and I was thinking how horrible it would be if he were ever in that situation. So it is lucky that this boy finally survived and ended up with the life that he has now.
How and when did you both discover your passion and talent for music?
At the age of 9 when I asked my mum to get me piano lessons. I saw a pianist playing Chopin, and I knew that I wanted to play this as well.
What have been your favourite projects/collaborations/albums to date?
For me, it was LION with Dustin and the cd Silfra with Hilary Hahn
If you were to have pursued another career what would it have been?
Who have you found to be the most inspiring and influential musicians to your own work?
Aphex Twin, John Cage, and Shostakovich.
What have been the most musically challenging moments in your career?
To write my first cello concerto and working on a couple of different projects at the same time.
What can we expect next from you?
New record in March 2017, two more movies and I am writing a cello concerto based on a never filmed Fellini Script and a piece for chamber string ensemble.
Advice to other musicians in the industry
What key pieces of advice can you offer to other musicians in the industry today?
I think it is always great to have an independent way of expressing your musical ideas. It helps to get an idea in collaborations of what you like and where you stand. And maybe always look to the positive aspect of things that happen to you.