Beauty and the Beast is one of your most recent assignments, how did you become involved on the movie and at what stage of the production did you become involved?
I was introduced to Christophe Gans in March 2013, when the editing of the film began. He told me a lot about film, his intentions, his desire to make a film for everyone, but in which each generation finds its account. I quickly made what would become the waltz of the film, which he enjoyed very much.
How much time were you Given to score Beauty and the Beast, and where did you record the score?
I had a lot of time on paper, the first sessions taking place in October, so about 7 months starting from April. But there was 80 minutes of music to write, and the film was constantly being altered and edited. The sessions took place at Abbey Road Studios in October and December.
I sensed a hint of the style of John Barry Within the score, with its beautiful strings, plaintive piano and emotive sounding horns, what artists or composers would you say have inspired you or influenced you in the way you write music or approach the scoring of a motion picture?
I do not think I have had any direct influences whilst scoring the picture as I think listening to other composers music is not always a good idea> My ideas for the style of music came mainly from discussions with Christophe Gans who gave me some ideas as to what style of music was needed or he felt would be best suited to the movie, whilst working on Beauty and the Beast we discovered many common musical tastes: Woljieck Kilar, Jerry Goldsmith, Bernard Hermann, Michel Legrand to name a few. In any case, I knew he wanted a large musical score that was generous and romantic, but within the frame a European context. He wanted the film repatriated with its French origins of the original story, and the music involved in it.
Do you believe that orchestration is a significant part of the composing process?
Yes I think it is, however on this occasion I did call upon the services of a co-orchestrator, Mathieu Alvado, which is the first time I have done this because the task of scoring the movie was so immense and there was really not a great deal of time, so we worked on the orchestrations together. It was essential, above all, that music has a “body”, it has to be noticed but it also must not overpower the images. I decided very quickly the option of a “classic” nomenclature, although without the orchestra’s trumpets.
The score for Beauty and the Beast is large and sumptuous, with quite lavish and lush themes. When you began to score the movie, did you have any fixed ideas about what style of music you would write and did these ideas alter as the project progressed?
Having ideas and developing them is essential, it gives coherence to the whole thing. The score consists of 4 or five main themes, but they all at times cross over into each other. Without upstream work, without image, it would have been difficult. Once fixed my nomenclature, and having identified the main areas of work, I tried these themes. Then began to work with the images.
Do you prefer to create a primary or main theme for a score first, and then build the remainder of the work around this?
Yes I think one has to establish a central theme firstly, but at times the movie dictates otherwise, the main theme I composed was originally supposed to be present a lot more in the film. But the film itself decided otherwise.
As I have Said Beauty and the Beast is a great work, All which is fitting for the story, in fact I would say it is very much akin to what I call an old fashion film score, that ‘contains strong thematic material and is full of energy, what is your opinion of contemporary movie music as Opposed to music from the 1940’s thru to the 1970 s?
It is great to have nostalgia and be able to look back at vintage scores, I think John Williams remains a reference today he remains busy and composing wonderful scores, which he also did back in the 1970. That said I really like the work of people like Thomas Newman, Alexandre Desplat, and many other contemporary composers who are working in film.
What musical education did you receive and did you focus upon Any Particular instrument whilst studying?
I did classical studies at the conservatory, both in composing and oboe, which was my main instrument.
What size orchestra did you Utilize on Beauty and the Beast and what choir Performed on the score?
I used an orchestra that had 80 members, plus I added to this the London voices which made up the adult choir and also we had the Tiffin Boys choir for the children
You began to write movie music at a very early age, I think you were fifteen when you undertook to score your first film, but your first official credit is on IMDB as SHIP OF MARRIAGE in 1994?
Ship of Marriage or “The boat wedding” was I suppose my first feature and it was also the first feature film by Jean-Pierre Améris. The budget was very small we had about twenty musicians in total if I remember correctly. I had previously however worked with the same director on a documentary As sometimes happens, he was more than happy to entrust the music for his movie to me.
You have I think Predominantly Worked in France and Europe, where do you prefer to record your scores, do you have a preference for a Particular studio or internship and indeed an orchestra?
I work a lot in France of course, and have a lot in common with the French musicians. But we begin to experience problems with studios. More film music is recorded abroad, which makes a lot of studios in Paris close due to lack of projects. I love recording in London, which is European capital as far as recording is concerned.
Was the film music something that you had always been attracted to, I ask because you have also written numerous songs, so was movie music something that became more prominent as your career progressed?
Yes, the music always came first, as a teenager I was passionate about jazz and I listened to the big bands! Then from there I became interested in writing for cinema. I have actually not written so many songs except maybe for movies when I’m asked to, but the song or song writing is not my main musical path. By contrast I worked on a lot of arrangements for songs as well as being a composer.
How many times do you like to see a movie before you start the actual work of composing, and do you spot the movie with the director?
With Beauty and the Beast, I saw the film for 7 months, I cannot tell you how many times I watched it in that period, it was several times a week at least, this was I wanted to ensure that the music would be suited to each and every scene, and as I have said the film was constantly changing and being edited and then re-edited, so I had to change the way in which the music was utilised, or maybe would have to cut the running time or at times extend it. We ran through the reels chronologically, each reel being spotted with Christophe Gans and Sébastien Prangère who was the editor on the movie we did this to be absolutely positive and accurate with everything.
Beauty and the Beast has been released by the Spanish soundtrack label Quartet records, did you have any input into what music Would be included on the release, there is 80 mins of music on the disc which includes the French and English versions of the song, how much did you write for the movie?
Yes of course, I did involve myself with the preparation of the compact disc release; I had to shorten some of the cues so that the two versions of the song could be included on the disc. I did not write the song.
Have you ever experienced problems with a temp track on a movie, Has a director ever asked you to fashion a score “just like the temp” and do you find the use of temp tracks helpful or unproductive?
Temp-tracks can be very useful, provided that the director understands their role and knows to abandon them once the composer begins work on the film. The problem is that the temp is sometimes installed on the film right from the outset of the production and everyone that is involved with the movie becomes used to this music, so it can be hard for the composer to come in at a later stage and write something that works for the director, producer and at times even the distributor. They are however very useful tools or guides for the composer when it comes to the pace of the film.
I Understand That You Were in ROMANTICS ANONYMOUS playing the role of a pianist in a bar, have you ever been on location for any of the movies or TV shows you-have Scored, if so did you find it helpful with the development of your score?
It was not a role, just a representation! I went several times on film sets, but I’d rather stay in the post-production department. The only thing that helps me to find an idea for a score is to see the movie as much as possible, and talk as much as possible with the director and editor. Even reading the script rarely gives an idea of the film as it will be, because of editing and even whole scenes being cut.
Have you Any Given concerts of your movie music, and do you perform on your own scores?
I have not had the chance to make my music into concert suites as yet, except once at Cannes for the film “Paris I love you.” Otherwise I always conduct the orchestra in the studio; this is probably the most impressive moment and also a better time.
What would you identify as the main differences between scoring a TV show or series and a motion picture, or do you approach both TV and film in the same way?
The difference is mainly due to the budgets that are available, with TV the budgets are smaller thus it can be a case of being inventive as a composer and utilizing to your best ability what you have available.
As a composer and conductor do you find it better to work-have a conductor with the orchestra so That you can study and supervise the recording session from the desk?
No, I really prefer to conduct my own music for film and television, I’m in front of the orchestra, in a privileged position, it gives me a sense of participation in the life of the music after spending weeks alone, it also allows you to adjust more quickly balance issues for example. And above all: listen closely, without filter, this is the greatest reward of all.
Have you ever been at a recording session and Realized that maybe the music is not working as you would have liked it to, if so what do you do in a position like this?
No I don’t think this has happened to me, but It might do fingers crossed it will not.
What are you working on at the moment, and what do you do musically away from the film?
I’ll soon start to write arrangements for an album by a French singer. In the periods between projects, I just listen to a lot of music, which I never do when I am working. I now have many records to listen too. I love to read music as well: just released is the simile Varsity “sacred spring” of Stravinsky.