Huracán is a psychological thriller written, directed, and starring Cassius Corrigan (The Caregiver) as a mixed martial artist battling opponents in the ring and within. Composer Roman Molino Dunn made his mix of sounds that enrich the experience of the acclaimed film.
Cassius Corrigan plays Alonso Santos, an up-and-coming mixed martial artist. A court-appointed therapist determines that Alonso is living with a dissociative identity disorder. Whenever Alonso feels threatened, an aggressive alter ego known as “Huracán” emerges. Alonso’s on the verge of homelessness and on parole, and his combative personality is his only salvation because it makes him a fierce fighter in the ring.
PopAxiom and composer Roman Molino Dunn spoke about becoming a musician, Instagram, and making the music for Huracán.
Roman started playing the piano around the age of four. “Music was a part of my life at a young age. But pretty early, I rejected the traditional trajectory of performing people’s music, and I was more inspired to create my own music.”
“It was always a goal to be a composer,” Roman says, “but I had no idea I’d be getting paid to write music for other people. I didn’t know that was a thing until later.”
After studying classical music, Roman “wanted to do anything I could to stay in music. So, I didn’t get any composition jobs writing for symphonies or anything like that. But I worked in recording studios and eventually opened my own recording studio with a business partner. Even though we were recording music for other people, advertising agencies started using us to record things like voice-overs.”
“After a while,” Roman continues, “they started asking us to write music for the commercials. Directors who worked for those ad agencies started asking for music for their films. Before you knew it, I was writing music for movies and tv shows. It was an organic thing.”
Roman knew he wanted to work in music, so he “never turned down a music job.” The result? “Eventually, it lead back to my initial desire to be a composer.”
“I feel like if you have a definite goal,” Roman says, “it’s going to find its way into your life.”
Listen up, future composers, because getting the Huracán gig for Roman was a “modern success story,” as Roman puts it. “It was on Instagram,” he reveals.” I followed the director because I loved his work, and he was following me because he loved my work. We wanted to work together. When he finally had a feature film with funding, he reached out to me. I wrote some music for some of the early screen tests and then scored the film.”
Roman’s work on Huracán involved a deeper level of collaboration. “It was cool. A lot of times, I get a temp score. In this case, Cassius said to me, ‘Show me some stuff.'”
“That takes a lot of trust,” Roman says of Cassius’ offer of creative freedom, “which I was honored to have instilled on me. We developed something fresh.”
Huracán‘s score is a diverse mix of sounds. “What we ended up with is a composite of organic instruments and synthetic instruments. The interplay between organic and synthetic was a metaphor for the dissociative identity disorder that the main character is dealing with.”
“It wrote itself in that way,” Roman says of the score’s formation. “The story and the complexity of the psychology dictated the way that we were going to score the film.”
Roman is in a constant state of making music. “In addition to scoring for film, I do a lot of EDM or Electronic Dance Music.”
“I don’t see a huge difference between classical music and pop music anymore,” Roman says but then recalls his shifting opinions throughout time. “When I was a kid, I went through stages where I hated classical, and I only listened to pop music. And then I went through a stage when I was a little older where I’d only listen to classical and never pop music.”
Roman continues, “But I was writing in both worlds, and I realized, it’s all music.”
“I’m a studio rat,” Roman proudly proclaims, “I live in a recording studio. Every instrument we have, be it a synthesizer, piano, or cello, they’re all a valid way to help people achieve their vision.”
“I grew up in a place called the Poconos in an area called the Delaware Water Gap,” Roman starts when the topic of jazz comes up. “There’s a rich jazz tradition, including the Delaware Water Gap Music Festival. I grew up around that music.”
Roman continues to discuss his connection to jazz. “While growing up, my parents made me take piano lessons, saxophone lessons, guitar, drums, and everything. I studied jazz for maybe ten or fifteen years.”
Why is jazz so powerful for so many musicians? “Probably because it’s the first divergence a lot of people have from a certain amount of strictness that you might be getting in your classical lessons. The ability to improvise while you’re within a structure is essential during film scoring. You have to think on the fly a lot of the times to fulfill sometimes quick changes that people might need.
The whole score is very ambient, textural, orchestral stuff mixed with synths. All of a sudden, there’s big band horns at the end and break-beat drums.
Roman’s scores are an eclectic mix of sounds, each curated to help tell a story. “Early renaissance music shaped me a lot because it’s the start of three-dimensional thinking in music. Those dimensions are so important, especially in mixed-media like film.”
“From the film scoring world,” Roman continues, “the list is huge. John Powell is great at mixing genre. In the mixing of the orchestral and synthetic, Joe Trapanese, Harry Gregson Williams, and John Paisano. Someone who crossed over from the EDM world is Junkie XL (Thomas Holkenborg).”
“Honestly,” Roman says, “the real answer is whoever is influencing the director that’s trusting me.”
Roman’s not a fan of remakes and shares a different vision than re-creating an old score. “I think if a movie is great, then the score did its job. But I can think of four or five directors off the top of my head who would be dream collaborators; Patty Jenkins (Wonder Woman), Anna Boden (Captain Marvel), Alfonso Gomez-Rejon (The Current War), and then also Zack Snyder (Man of Steel).
“I love TV. Director John Logan did the Penny Dreadful series, and the music was so similar to the thinking I had with Huracán and the textural stuff.”
Having worked for film and television, what does Roman think of each medium? “I love both. With film, you get a lot of time to develop this one distinct language, and with television, you get the opportunity to continue that language.”
Huracán is out and available to watch on HBO. What’s next for Roman? “Some cool stuff. The next big feature that I’m excited about is called Snake Head. It’s by Evan Jackson Leong, who is known for Linsanity. We’re wrapping up post-production. The story is very moving and important. It’s about human trafficking that’s based on a true story. I’m also working on a YouTube kids show and a cooking show that I can’t talk about.”
Is Huracán on your watch list?
Thanks to Roman Molino Dunn and Impact24 PR
for making this interview possible.
CLICK ME for more interviews on PopAxiom!