Nov 4, 2010, 15:11

Kaspar Astrup Schroder’s new film My Playground takes a global look at the emerging Parkour scene in Copenhagen, Bejing, Washington DC, Tokyo and more. Anyone who became dizzy during the opening scene of the 2006 James Bond film Casino Royale is intimately familiar with Parkour which Wikipedia defines as “a philosophy, [that] includes the physical practice of traversing elements in both urban and rural settings. The goal is to move from one point to another as quickly and efficiently as possible.”

The film focuses mainly on the members of Denmark-based Team Jiyo and includes interviews with government officials, architects and the team-members themselves. When viewing the stunning sequences of Parkour artists leaping fearlessly from building to building, it quickly became clear to me that a deep connection exists between the architects who design buildings and the traceurs (male Parkour artists) that seemingly fly through them. The vast differences that time plays in each creative medium is not unlike an up-and-coming violinist performing a Mozart concerto created over a century ago.

I had an opportunity to interview Astrup Schroder about the use of music in the film. The soundtrack throughout the film is a ambient sheen of warm ice created by Mikkel Metal as well as songs by Broadcast 2000.

Here’s the link to a trailer of the film:

The Interview:

1) A great vocal song plays towards the end of the film (the scene with the metal sculptures in the background while the blond fellow performs). How was this song chosen?

At first I had only thought that Mikkel Metal’s music should be in the film, but during the editing, I felt the film needed a shift in music, to not make it too internal and monochrome, but show the diversity of the phenomenon. And I came across Joe’s music (Joe Steer=Broadcast 2000) which had a great energy and I wanted to use that. So the shift in music felt natural to have at this point.

2) The vocal song that begins during the park opening is also outstanding. How was this song chosen?

Joe was so kind to “donate” his whole album to use in the film. So that song was quite early decided to end the film. It’s has such a positive energy that kind of lives on and the melody sticks to your head and I wanted to have the audience feel that way, after the film ended.

3) The “test of manhood” scene in Copenhagen felt like one of the film’s strongest emotional peaks. Was it intentional to have the music remain static rather than build or change as she hopped the poles?

Yes it was. I didn’t want the music to push anything feelings or drama, but wanted the scene stand very real and authentic.

4) Can you contrast the artistic relationship between architect and Parkour artist vs. the relationship between film composer and film director?

Hmm tough question. Well it’s all about inspiring each other and get a great synergy from mixing different ways of thinking. I work with music myself and my way of working with my music is very much the same way as when I make movies. My approach to music is thinking it/an album as a journey that the listener goes through, rather than thinking of separate songs the stand out individually. So when I work with composers it’s very much about connecting our different approaches and bring our thought together in a way we hadn’t thought about before going into it. And hopefully something bigger than planned comes out of it. And I think it is the same with Parkour and architecture. The architects love how the traceurs use their buildings in a way the hadn’t thought of when they drew it. And something even bigger than both of them had imagined comes out of it. Alright, that was a little difficult to explain, but hope it makes sense.

5) Do you happen to know the software or musical instrument that produced the digital percussion effects that characterize most the music cues towards the beginning of the film? They’re clearly computer-generated and really make the soundtrack unique and modern. Great stuff.

Mikkel Metal works with Ableton Live and even though it’s difficult to hear many of his sounds come from a guitar.

6) The music used during the Washington DC segment contrasts sharply from the other segments’ overall sound. Was there a reason for this?

That’s also by Broadcast 2000 and I don’t think it differs that much. A little bit, but it was intentional, ’cause we are in a different part of the world. Also I want to music diversity to drive the film forward and give it some kind of narrative evolvement.

7) From a cultural standpoint, do you see any parallels between Parkour and skateboarding?

Sure. Skateboarding started the way Parkour did. Though here it wasn’t French suburbs, but Californian waves that inspired. Now skateboarding is a huge extreme sport and I think Parkour will go the same way. Red Bull have already started competitions in Parkour/free running, so in a few years the similarities will be even bigger.

8) What was your work flow process with Mikkel Metal during the film’s creation?

Most pieces were composed for the film, but because of time and the lack of budget he gave me some of his older work, that I could use. But the process was, that he didn’t really see any sequences, I just had pretty specific ideas on what sequences needed what kind of music, so we talked about it and send me some suggestions, that I could work with and adjust according to the scene and my comments. It’s was a very organic process.

9) What is your preferred methodology when searching for a pre-existing piece of music? Whether it’s a song or something from a music library?

I listen to a lot of music, so I pretty much use music I know. Then early in the editing process I work with existing music from other films to see what kind of music (in terms of mood, tempo) would fit and then I contact a composer that I think could make it even better. Or sometimes I contact the musician directly, if I want to use a song, rather than a score. That’s what I did with Broadcast 2000. I just emailed him and he responded and we had to convince his record label. But they were all very generous.

10) Based on your observation, can you contrast the level of government support generally received by the Parkour artists in Copenhagen versus other countries?

Yeah, the Danish government is very supportive. New sports are supported quite heavily in Denmark. So from what I hear, we are very fortunate.

11) What creative advice would you give to a talented musician with a studio who wishes to successfully collaborate with a filmmaker?

I’m sure there are really many talented musicians and composers out there that just don’t get “the chance”, but it’s a tough business and you just have to make a name of yourself. Don’t really know how, sorry. It’s about meeting the right people. Maybe traveling to festivals where the directors are could be a good idea.

12) How did your relationship with Mikkel Metal begin?

I know Mikkel from another film that I directed, where he was very kind to let me use a bunch of his already recorded tracks. And so on My Playground, I contacted him again and wanted him to compose directly for the film. Don’t know if or when we’ll work together again, but I’m sure at some point we will.

Our musician community thanks Kaspar for sharing his insights about the soundtrack to this terrific film. Our community of musicians is always looking for new insights to improve their craft this director’s insights are a welcome additional to our collective knowledge.

Watch  MY PLAYGROUND instantly on VOD or get the DVD from Objective Cinema.


Mike Bielenberg is a professional musician and co-founder of, a production music marketplace where media producers and business owners can license high-quality, affordable music from a online community of musicians.

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