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.
COMPOSER CHRISTIAN HESCHL ON SCORING OKAVANGO.
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
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/