Score! Behind the movie soundtrack.

Alum Michael Wandmacher composes music for the new “Punisher” film.

As a composer of scores for Hollywood movies, Michael Wandmacher is responsible for arousing ears and aurally fondling the viewer. So, how does one get such a gig? Wandmacher attended the University of Minnesota in the âÄô90s and graduated from the journalism school. His music career began with low-budget commercials and independent films in the Twin Cities, but soon after, he set off to L.A., where he caught the ear of music editors in the industry. A&E recently spoke with Wandmacher, whose most recent film, âÄúPunisher: War Zone,âÄù will be released in early December. You went to the journalism school at the U. Did you have any music training here? No. Just journalism. IâÄôm completely self-taught. Everything that happened to me in terms of film scoring came out of working in commercial music in Minneapolis. When I was in my senior year in college, I started working doing infomercials for Nordic Track. What did you do next? That blossomed into a moonlighting gig doing local news stuff and lower-budget commercials. After graduating, I went on to work in a few ad agencies, but I continued moonlighting with the music. That eventually turned into a full-time job. That led to some bigger budget commercials and short films, some independent films in Minneapolis. What kind of films? I did a movie in 1997 called âÄúWith or Without YouâÄù That got me noticed by some music editors out in L.A. Through a series of flights out there and meetings and scoring sessions, I was able to hand out music and make some good connections. That led to working with Dimension Films at the time doing direct-to-video movies. What were these? They were Jackie Chan movies. When I said I wanted to do them, they told me I would have to move to Los Angeles. So then I moved. Dec. 19 will be exactly 10 years since I got in my U-Haul truck and drove out here from south Minneapolis. The new movie that you composed is âÄúPunisher: War Zone.âÄù What drew you to the movie? I had been hired by Lionsgate to do âÄúMy Bloody ValentineâÄù prior to doing âÄúPunisher.âÄù The scoring gig for âÄúPunisherâÄù happened to be open, and they knew I wanted to do the âÄúPunisher.âÄù It was something that I had been lobbying for. I wanted to do the first [âÄúPunisherâÄù movie] too, because I love the character. Luckily it worked out schedule-wise for me to do both films (âÄúPunisher: War ZoneâÄù and âÄúMy Bloody Valentine 3DâÄù). It was very sudden. So are most of your jobs the result of this kind of networking? Does one job often lead to another? Yes. ThatâÄôs very much the business, especially for film scoring because itâÄôs such a small community. Everybody knows everybody. Maintaining good relationships is important in getting your name out there. But for âÄúPunisher,âÄù much of the reason I got the job was because my knowledge of the character. IâÄôve followed the character since I was a kid. I know that ShinderâÄôs isnâÄôt there anymore, but my dad used to take me there to shop for comics. There was a particular Saturday in 1974 when I first saw The Punisher in âÄúSpiderman #129.âÄù I thought it was such a cool character, and IâÄôve been following it ever since. HeâÄôs been reinvented about six times, I think, and IâÄôve stayed with it the whole time. So I had a really deep knowledge of the character going in. That really helped with the scoring process. WhatâÄôs the music like for this film? I knew going in that I wanted to give the movie a theme, a tune, something iconic that you could hum walking out of the theater. I feel like thatâÄôs been missing from a lot of superhero movies. For the âÄúPunisher,âÄù I wanted something you couldnâÄôt forget. I also wanted to capture his character in the music. The Punisher is a much more complex character than many people think. We started with a few themes that we thought fit the PunisherâÄôs character, then built the score around that. I thought it would best be voiced with an orchestra. It was a pretty large orchestra, but only strings and brass, because I felt like those colors were the right ones to represent the Punisher. The low strings and the big brass sounds give it a kind of macho, quasi-heroic feeling. So what was your day-to-day work like for this movie? The main thing that I do is watch the movie a couple of times and then break the movie down into pieces. Then I spread out all of those chunks over how much time I have to work, and I say, âÄúOkay, I have to get such and such amount done each day.âÄù I go into the studio each day and I work off my to-do list until itâÄôs done. Sometimes IâÄôm done by dinner, and other times I go until 4 a.m. At the end of the week I review it all to make sure itâÄôs coherent. Then I go on to the next part of the movie. ItâÄôs taken years to develop that process. ItâÄôs a discipline. I canâÄôt let the process get crowded with a lot of extraneous worry and doubt. This score in particular had to be done very quickly. Before you started composing for commercials, you were in bands. What kind of music did you play? I was in cover bands a lot. So a lot of top 40 and rock radio. And I was in some metal bands. Just straight-up hair bands. That was mostly in the mid-âÄò80s, when I got out of high school. That continued through college, and a couple years out of college, actually. Then I got too wrapped up in the regular commercial gig, and I didnâÄôt have time to do that anymore. IâÄôd love to go play live now. But I donâÄôt have the time.