OKAVANGO- the soundtrack and scoring the film.



Films about wildlife are fascinating, one only has to watch the works of the likes of Sir David Attenborough to appreciate the splendour and also the beauty of animals in the wild. Music for films, documentaries and shorts on this subject matter is too exciting and, in most cases, wonderfully beguiling and attractive. OKAVANGO the movie and its score are no exception, it is a musical feast filled with varying degrees of excitement and overflowing with a rich and captivating sound, with a style and tone that is not only pleasing but affecting and emotive. The score for OKAVANGO is the work of composer Christian Heschl, and it is a score that I will here and now recommend that you seek out and add to your collection. Although a relatively short work it is crammed full with an abundance of haunting and mesmerising tone poems which are heard alongside dramatic and deeply atmospheric themes and nuances which just entice the listener to explore the work further, each theme or nuance adding it’s weight to an already strong and rich sounding musical tapestry. The score or maybe excerpts from it are available on digital platforms already, and although quite brief it still makes its mark and in-prints its haunting and tantalising style and overall sound upon the listener. It has to it an attractive and alluring musical persona which I am sure will be felt by all as they discover its at times lilting and calming interludes and its imposing and yet quietly majestic power. I was surprised to hear that the score contains no actual players as in symphonic performers and is realised via synthetic and electronic means. This however does not and should not take away any of the works standing or credibility, as it is a score that works well with the images and also entertains as a separate musical entity, standing on its own two feet away from the film it was intended to enhance and support. The musical colours and textures realised by the composer within this score are striking and affecting, it is score that I feel will be returned to many times after your initial listen.



Your score for OKAVANGO is if I may say a beautiful soundtrack, I love its subtle but at the same time strong musical persona, How, did you become involved on the project?

Well, Okavango is now the third collaboration with director and producer Chris Schmid from Switzerland.  Chris Schmid is a filmmaker & photographer from Switzerland, represented by the National Geographic Image Collection and is also an official Sony Ambassador & National Geographic Explorer. His photographs have been published in magazines such as National Geographic, BBC and GEO, and he has won numerous awards for his photography and short films.

Since our first collaboration on „Frozen Warriors“ for which we both won several Awards in Los Angeles for best documentary and 3 times best original score, I’ve scored every Project from the Sony Image film „A Wildlife“ up to the recent one OKAVANGO. Its always a joy to work on such high-end productions like Chris ones.
How many players did you utilise for the score, and what percentage of synthetic instrumentation did you employ?
As such independent productions mostly have a very limited budget, I didn’t had the possibility to record that soundtrack.
All instruments you hear are done with instrument libraries, so the whole score is produced on my PC. Originally I came from a pure orchestral composing background, but more and more I loved combining the orchestra with electronical sounds which got a primer thing on my soundtrack productions.  On that one I think I can say its 75% orchestral and 25% Synth.


If some fellow composers are interested which libraries I used, thats a brief list below:
Tina Guo Cello
Cinematic Studio Strings
Spitfire Chamber Strings
Spitfire Symphonic Brass
Spitfire Symphonic Woodwinds
Spitfire Hans Zimmer Percussion
Spitfire Albion V
Spitfire eDNA
Zebra – Synthesizer
Diva – Synthesizer


How much music did you compose for the film, and where was the score recorded?

The score which is featured in the short film is around 06:17min.
After completing the soundtrack I decided to add 2 additional tracks also focused on the environment of the film, to complete an EP with 7 tracks.
Did you perform on the soundtrack for the movie, if so, is this something that you do on the majority of your film scores?  No, as mentioned above every instrument you hear is done with instrument libraries and composed, produced and mixed by myself  I see the soundtrack is available digitally, will there be a CD release?
For now I haven’t planned a CD release, but if there’s raising interest I’ll definitely think of that!

Did the director of the film have any fixed ideas about the style and the sounds they wanted for the picture?

From the very beginning we both agreed that the music has to be primarily emotional and of course thematic orientated with an “African touch” to reflect the environment of the area around the Okavango Delta.

The film deals primarily with the topic how important it is to save such wildlife reservations where animals can live in peace without any humanitarian influences.
Especially the focus on the living and protected elephants there were the reason to give the score an emotional touch. So Chris mostly gives me some input what he has in mind but generally offers me a lot of creative space how I support the whole film with a musical score.



Christian Heschl is an award-winning film composer and musician born in a small town near Vienna, where he works in his studio. He previously composed music for numerous projects featured on National Geographic, Sony and many more.

That year he won “Best Original Score” Award at the Global Film Festival LA for his work in the short documentary “Iceland – A Breath of Nature”
2018 he won 3 times in a row “Best Original Score” at the Los Angeles Film Awards, at the LA Short Awards and at the CineFest LA – for his work on
“Frozen Warriors” by Chris Schmid, which is also showcased on National Geographic worldwide.

Christian will be also working on “Witness” – a German feature film, directed by Michele Gentile. Further projects including the feature documentary “African Survivors”, “Cosmic Rush” (Science-Fiction TV Series) and another short film by Chris Schmid named “OKAVANGO” which airs again worldwide on National Geographic.

He started his music career by learning the trumpet where he completed a jazz education and performed at several concerts in Austria. Later he moved on to the piano and the cello. Over the years Christian discovered his passion for film-music and started composing music for short films. He attended several Masterclasses and Workshops hosted by A-List composers Alexandre Desplat, James Newton-Howard, Hans Zimmer, Danny Elfman, John Lunn and many more. In 2017 Christian composed the music for several short-films and documentaries and collaborated with young directors & producers.

Beside all of that he composes production music regularly and is currently under contract by two respected music production libraries including Chroma Music & Atom Music with trailer and TV placements at various studios including Disney, Marvel, Universal, NBC, ABC, CBS and more. Since 2019 Christian also produces music for the Austrian National Broadcaster’s music library ORF. (from Christian Heschl web site.) https://www.heschl-music.com/






We are all aware of the talent of Marco Werba as a composer, and his ability to craft wonderfully thematic scores for movies and Television. But did you know that he once wrote about film music? I do remember seeing a few articles in Soundtrack magazine, which were always of interest. Then he began to become more and more into the collectors gaze as a composer. Recently Marco has returned to writing about music for the cinema and has written a book, which is in print now. I spoke to him about the book and the reasons he wanted to write it.


1) What made you decide to write a book about film music

It was a long time since I had planned to write a book that was a kind of composition manual about music for genre films (Thriller, horror, science fiction). A book that was missing in the literary scene, the only book, among other things, which contains almost all the orchestral scores, that I wrote for Dario Argento’s thriller, “Giallo”, starring Adrien Brody and Emmanuelle Seigner.
The second half of the book therefore consists of scores from “Giallo” and the analysis of these scores.



2) I have not sadly seen the book as yet, so what areas and composers did you focus upon.

I talked about the most important composers who dedicated themselves to this genre, especially Americans, English and Italians ones. I talked about the two schools of thought, the first (orchestral) linked to Bernard Herrmann, the second (electronic) born with Mike Oldfield. I talked about the first soundtrack that struck me and gave me the incentive to start this activity. I refer to the science fiction movie “Logan’s run”, scored by Jerry Goldsmith. A revolutionary nusic, which alternated electronic avant-garde music for the scenes within the city of the future with orchestral music for the scenes outside the city.



3) Is the book available in English.

Not yet. The book will be available in Italy from June 25 (through “Falsopiano” publishing) and should be printed in Spain in September by “Editorial Rosetta”).





4) How long did it take to write the book and did you research it thoroughly first or did you begin to write it and then start to do more research.

Good question. I worked on the book for almost one year (working on it between one film score assignment to another one). I already knew most of the film scores written by Bernard Herrmann, John Williams, Jerry Goldsmith, John Barry, Ennio Morricone, Pino Donaggio, Stelvio Cipriani etc and it was not difficult to select the best scores and talk about them. I asked to a few ex-students and friends to help me analyze a few scores by Bernard Herrmann and Jerry Goldsmith, as well as my score for “Giallo”.  I also included fragments of other books such as “Jerry Goldsmith” by Mauricio Dupuis, “Colonna Sonora” by Ermanno Comuzio, “La musique du film” by Alain Lacombe and Claude Rocle and an article by Steve Vertlieb about Bernard Herrmann.



5) do you think there is another book inside you.

I don’t think so. I must concentrate on writing film scores.