Category Archives: Interviews

Talking to Bruce Kimmel.

 

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I remember seeing your name on the Bay Cities releases of soundtracks, you certainly released some great film music on that label, how did BAY CITIES come about?

I’ll try to give you the Reader’s Digest version – but I helped get Varese Sarabande started back when they began, got them into soundtracks (their first soundtrack release was to my film, The First Nudie Musical, had a chance to own a third of the company for something like $2500 and passed because at the time they were only doing obscure classical releases. I knew I’d made a mistake when I got them into soundtracks but by then it was too late to get involved financially. When they got their Universal distribution deal they went into a whole other world and somewhere in the late 80s I knew that had I invested I would probably be a millionaire. Out of that was born Bay Cities – I found two people, we each put up a small amount of dough, and like Varese we began with classical albums and soon thereafter graduated to show and then soundtrack reissues.
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BAY CITIES issued a lot of classical music but always seemed to release not obscure, but shall we say more interesting film soundtracks, such as CHILDREN OF THE NIGHT by Daniel Licht etc, as well as items such as THE THREE MUSKETEERS by Legrand was releasing lesser known scores something that set out to do rather than sticking with the mainstream material?

Bay Cities was designed to be eclectic. And we right off the bat wanted to support new film composers like Daniel and Randy Miller, but we were also able to get some great reissues like 1941 and Musketeers. Us getting 1941 was such an annoyance to Varese – it made me laugh. I mean – they were ANNOYED. And us getting the soundtrack to Misery annoyed them even more and led to what was ultimately an offer that I couldn’t really refuse given the problems Bay Cities was having.

 

 

Sadly, Bay Cities ceased production, why was this as the label seemed to have a solid following?

What killed most small labels back then – distribution. We went through three or four with the common theme being they were so slow in paying what was owed to us that it was difficult to keep up and it got worse with our final distributor, where we couldn’t even get them to pay at all. During all that drama, Chris Kuchler at Varese called me and said I could come there, start my own line, earn a good living, and do whatever I wanted without interference – so given we would have gone under anyway thanks to corrupt distributors, I grabbed that opportunity. It was a difficult decision but, in the end, it turned out to be a good thing for all of us.

 

Your Kritzerland label also has a catalogue that is filled with some wonderful soundtracks and musicals etc, how do decide on what soundtracks that you will release?

Mostly it’s a simple thing with me, because I’m the company – I must like the music. Yes, there are maybe two releases I could point to that I did because I knew they’d sell well that I didn’t love, but even then, I didn’t hate them and made them into good albums. So, it’s really my taste in things. I wouldn’t release all that 80s and 90s and now 2000s stuff that everyone lives for – other than a handful of scores, that doesn’t interest me. I do understand that financially we perhaps should have looked at least more to the 80s but that crazy nostalgia thing for people who grew up then was and is like nothing I’ve ever seen (although it’s about to be surpassed by the 90s and then 2000s in terms of crazy nostalgia) and I just couldn’t bring myself to grab those titles, not that most of them were gettable because other labels were fighting over them. So, I just went about my business and got the stuff I liked.

 


I was really pleased when you released JULES VERNE’S ROCKET TO THE MOON, this I think is a very good early score by John Scott, do you have contact with the composer when you are going to release one of their soundtracks, if so do you involve them in maybe selecting the cues that you will include on the release and do you think there could be more Scott soundtracks in the pipeline, THE LONG DUEL for example?

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In the case of Rocket to the Moon, we were just releasing the LP program. I was in touch with John because he’s a good friend, but he didn’t have anything extra on the film. I’ve always loved the score, so it was a treat to do it. I have The Long Duel on a list at Rhino – we’ll get to it at some point, I’m sure.

 

 

What would you say has been the most difficult soundtrack to produce and for what reasons?

I don’t know if difficult is the word I’d use, but the one that took the longest, because both James Nelson and I were maniacal about it, was Poltergeist 2. All those other releases I’d not liked in terms of sound, and I knew that was partially due to the digital tapes being used – so for the first time ever, I pulled the analogue tapes that were done at the same time and there was all the loveliness, space, and air that I wanted. We must have worked for three solid weeks on that getting it to sound as great as we could get it. And there was a lot of drama about it, but in the end once people heard it they knew that sound-wise there would never be better and even with yet another reissue last year, that has proven to be the case. Otherwise, there really hasn’t been anything difficult other than getting a project, which can, of course, be daunting.

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Before KRITZERLAND you were at Varese in the labels early years, how did you become involved with the label and why did they suddenly stop releasing Broadway show recordings?
I was at Varese from March of 1993 to the end of December 1999. By then, the entire vibe there had become so irritating and kind of sickening. There was a year when Bob Townson and Chris Kuchler weren’t even speaking to each other, that’s how crazy it was. They’d gone down this rabbit hole by hiring a marketing person, and he, IMO, hurt us terribly. Yes, he helped with certain titles, but suddenly it all became about marketing – not the albums, but how do we sell this. Well, for the first five years there everything sold well in my division – and certainly the huge winners took care of anything that may have lost a little money. But that’s because we had the market pretty much to ourselves and I was doing nineteen original albums a year, which was insane but fun. Then all the majors got back into the game because they saw how well we were doing. And suddenly nothing was selling as well – all labels go through patches like that, but Chris was, well, not smart about it, kept complaining, and ultimately came to me and said, “We’re out of the Broadway business.” It was a) stupid, and b) negated what he’d told me when I’d shut down Bay Cities – that I had a job for life. So, there was nothing for me to do but leave. And to show you how stupid his decision was if he’d been patient another three years, the entire business model of doing cast albums changed to the show producers paying for their own albums – I helped spearhead that even though I didn’t have a label at the time. Impatience breeds stupid decisions. But also, I really couldn’t stomach what had turn into art by committee, with endless, painful meetings about what would sell and what wouldn’t.

 

 

I’ll give you one anecdote that will sum all of that up in a nutshell. When Titanic came out and immediately turned into an all-time box-office winner, the soundtrack was selling millions of units and every label was doing whatever knock-off they could – Music They Should Have Played on the Titanic, Music They Might Have Played on the Titanic, Music They Would Have Played on the Titanic If the Ship Hadn’t Sunk – it was crazy and they were all doing well even though they were all crap.
And I got a brainstorm – to do a Titanic album – with lots of score cues from the Horner, but also music from other movies about the Titanic and even from the Broadway musical – and because the soundtrack album had left off the single piece that everyone wanted – the piano-only version of the Rose theme, I included that. I went in to Chris and pitched it. His response? “Who would buy it?” I tried to explain the phenomenon and he’d just look at me and furrow his brow and repeat, “Who would buy it?”

 

Then he called in our marketing “expert” who was, as he always was, wishy-washy, agreeing with Chris because that’s who paid his salary. This went on for two weeks, and finally I walked into Chris’s office and said, “You know what, I’m doing this, and you can thank me later.” He looked up, bemused, and said, “Well, if you feel that strongly about it…” And I said, “I not only feel that strongly about it, I’ve had an orchestrator working on it for two weeks, and we’re going into the studio to record in a week-and-a-half as I’ve hired the band and the conductor.” End of the story – it comes out, enters the Billboard Classical Crossover Chart at number two and remains on the chart for forty-nine weeks or something. It sold over 100,000 copies. I was never thanked. He never acknowledged his initial hesitance, and the marketing guy tried to take all the credit.

 

 

Do you have a personal preference or a favourite recording that you have produced?

Of the ones I’ve produced that are original, there are several I’m very proud of during the Varese days, but they’re all my children so I don’t single them out. Of the Kritzerland reissues, the favourite would have to be not a soundtrack but the original Broadway cast album of Follies. The LP and mix of that show was legendary and not in a good way – one of the worst-sounding cast albums ever – and it didn’t help they’d truncated the score. Everyone always blamed the recording itself, the engineering.
I got it into my head to see if that was true – it took me a year to convince EMI to license it to me (it’s never been out of print on CD) for a limited edition. I pulled the original eight-track tapes and completely remixed it from scratch – and voila – it suddenly sounded like a gloriously recorded album because it was only the original mix that was horrible – done in a day. We released it and I heard from every living member of the original production and the response from them, starting with Mr. Sondheim, who called it a miracle, was overwhelming as was the response from the buyers. It’s one of my proudest moments. Soundtrack reissues, I’d have to say there were several I was thrilled to finally bring to CD, including Two for the Seesaw, Heaven Can Wait, and most importantly, One-Eyed Jacks.
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Stepping away from production, do you think that contemporary film scores do lack a thematic identity, by this I mean do you feel that the opening credits title theme is something that is now in the past?

Sadly, yes – that is until some brave sole writes a main title with an actual tune and that film becomes a hit – then everyone will jump right back on that bandwagon. All the scores today pretty much sound the same, even from the talented composers and that’s because they keep temp-tracking with scores from the hit films of the last decade or so and insisting that the composer follow that to the letter – there’s no art there at all. You can’t have a score like To Kill a Mockingbird or Psycho today – those were original because the directors didn’t temp their film and the composers could do their job and understood the function of what a film score should do. Today it’s all committee, from the director and the producer down to the studio heads – everyone’s got an opinion, and if a film isn’t “working” the first place they look is the score, which should probably be the last place they look.

 

How have things altered over the years in the production and release of soundtracks, film music has always been a somewhat limited market, is this made even more difficult these days with the likes of Spotify and I Tunes around and what some call the dreaded download?

Yes, some love their downloads – I don’t do that. I like physical media, I’m afraid, but then I’m not twenty. I like things I can hold and look at and play. But I’m not at all sure soundtrack downloads are such a deal in terms of scores – maybe the soundtracks with a lot of songs – but not scores. The reissue market was very lucrative for many years until the market got glutted with so many releases that no one could afford to keep up anymore. I warned everyone about it and not only would no one listen, I was derided for it. Except I was right and pretty much every label has felt it and if you look at the way releases happen now you will see that that’s the case.
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Soundtracks such as THE MOLLY MAGUIRES, CHILDREN OF THE NIGHT and THE JERRY FIELDING FILM MUSIC compilations, I don’t think have been re-issued, would this be something that you would consider as a future project for Kritzerland?

We sold our 1500 Molly Maguires, and that took a year – I’m not sure there’d be enough sales left to justify it – Children of the Night – no one would care, although it’s a terrific score – and the volumes of Fielding I think have all been reissued multiple times by now. I’m not so interested in revisiting things – I know some labels love to do things that have been out two, three, four times but I like new stuff. I’ve cut back in the last two years. Much saner that way.

 

At what age did you begin to take an interest in music of any kind, and what are your memories of the first song or piece of music that you can remember?

I loved music from the time I could process thought. We had a nice record player that played 78s, 10-inch, 45s, and LPs and we had all of those. We had the usual cast albums – South Pacific, etc. some Danny Kaye records. The first movie theme I remember being obsessed with was a 78 of The High and the Mighty. My father was in the restaurant business but also owned several bars in LA that had juke boxes. So, I would get all the 78s and then 45s that were discarded, and that’s how I learned about music. And I remember all of it. As the years went on I was insatiably curious and took chances on all kinds of music. I was an odd child.

Is there anything, soundtrack or musical that you have tried to release but have not been able too?

There was a time we were looking at Li’l Abner, the movie soundtrack. I was given all the pre-records but then Sony did a CD-R release of the soundtrack through Arkiv and that was the end of that. I’d love to do a proper The Court Jester, but that doesn’t seem possible. And there are a handful of soundtracks that I’ve tried for and am still trying for – stuff that no one else would care about but that I love.

 


Do soundtracks sell because of certain composers or is it a genre thing do you think?

Certain genres seem to do well – horror, sci-fi – just the same as in-home video. Anything with the name Goldsmith seems to sell, no matter whether it’s not great or is from a horrible film or if it’s the twelfth reissue of a reissue of a reissue. It’s funny to watch. John Williams sells. Hugo Friedhofer, one of the greatest film composers in history, not so much. And certain films hold great nostalgia value for people – stuff like The Goonies – and so those do well, I suppose.

A few of the other soundtrack labels have started to do a very limited run on some of their soundtracks, one I know just does 300 per soundtrack, when you are planning a release is it economic for you to maybe press a lower number and wait and see what the reaction is to the initial run before re-pressing?

We’ve been doing 500 runs this year and it’s served us very well – anything under that number is pointless. But any major soundtrack release will automatically get 1000 – Advise and Consent being the latest of those.

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If you decide to release a soundtrack and the tapes are not in very good shape, what can you do to try and improve the situation or is it a case of tapes are bad, so we don’t proceed?

Up until three or four years ago, certain scores just were in such bad repair that there was no way to do them. That all changed with A Place in the Sun and It’s a Wonderful Life. I had those tapes forever and they were just so bad you couldn’t even think about it. Then along came Chris Malone. On a whim, I sent him the three worst tracks of A Place in the Sun and said, “Is there any way, anything that can be done here?” A few days later he sent me the three tracks back and whatever he’d done blew me away – it was astonishing. Sent him the rest and finally we had that soundtrack in listenable sound. Wonderful Life was even worse – all acetates, every cue in pieces with multiple pick-ups – it gave me a migraine just thinking about it. I sent him a few of those tracks and asked if he could make sense out of them (thankfully everything was slated) – after hearing the incredible result I sent it all to him, and he somehow figured it all out and again the result was astonishing. He’s kind of a genius at this stuff and I can’t say enough about him. But I also must give equally strong kudos to James Nelson, who’s done amazing work on most of our projects.

 

What is on the Horizon for Kritzerland?
More stuff from Sony and Rhino, more from Fox, and then who knows? That’s the beauty part – you never know what will magically appear.

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INTERVIEW WITH GODWIN BORG OF KRONOS RECORDS.

 

 

 

What does film music mean to you, tell us what your feelings, emotions and passions are when it comes to film music or indeed any kind of music?
Film music is very often the main element that keeps me sitting down and not fidgeting around when I m watching a film. If the score fails to please me I rarely am entertained by the film. Good film music has to work with the picture, and ideally also work out on its own as well on record. All music regardless of genre has to evoke feelings, if it fails to do so than it’s not good music.

 

I was once told that as collectors we are music addicts and we can’t stop listening and discovering film music old and new, would you say this pretty much describes a film music collector or at least some of us?
I think this a common trait to a good number of collectors, not sure how many but it is a common trait in many collectors of whatever they collect, from music to miniature scale models. I love discovering new stuff, be it old or new and it is always very exciting. I would not say I’m on a quest to discover new stuff, it just happens all the time though.

 

Are you in favour of all these so-called definitive releases of scores that have already received a release, sometimes the definitive editions containing seconds of extra music, or do you think that less is more when we are used to a certain release?
I’m usually the “only more is more” kind of guy however all these definitive editions, as you correctly put it that have nothing more than a cue or 2 than the 14thousand previous editions of that album, in that case I honestly believe that is taking advantage of the collectors’ compulsive need to own yet another version of X or Y. Sometimes there is editions that really are worth doing again but that is not the case most of the times.

 

What was your first soundtrack purchase?

 

Star Wars by John Williams.

 

 

KRONOS records has in the past few years grown its catalogue of soundtracks, adding a number of superb soundtracks that would ordinarily would not get a release, do you think it is important to release both popular and obscure titles?

 

 

I always was, still am and very likely will be the underdog and underdog fan till the day I croak so give me obscure titles anytime. Nothing wrong with popular titles don’t get me wrong, cause very often I pick an obscure title and end up giving it a sort of second life and a hint at “popularity” it never had but what I care for is not popularity but acknowledgment. There are so many outstanding recordings that never saw a release and for as long as I can I will keep working on releasing these obscure gems that deserve to be known and appreciated by more people who care for good music, not for popular music…

Are there any soundtracks that you have wanted to release and have not been able to for whatever reason?
Oh yes there have been a few, some because the sources were gone, others because the publisher could not be tracked, but yes like other labels I have my titles that never were.

 

 

The Italian soundtrack market never ceases to amaze me, there is always it seems a title coming out that has never been released, do you find that Italian film music creates more of an interest than movie scores from other countries?
I would not know that for sure, however I have released many Italian scores and there is really a gold mine that still yields a lot of musical wealth! Some Italian names are amongst the most known in the film music. Let us not forget that not every country had its Cinecitta, its Golden Age like Italy who has titles big enough to be known by both connoisseurs and the everyday chap.

 

What made you take the decision to establish KRONOS?

 

The fact that so many gems I cared for and no other label seemed interested to do, at least back then would be the main reason.

 

 

You have released a number of Italian scores, the Italian western is always popular, but I guess that that particular area of the market is pretty much exhausted as far as new titles or unreleased titles are concerned, titles such as GODS GUN, A MAN CALLED SLEDGE etc wont ever see a release will they?

 
Never and ever are not two words I often use so my friend never say never but for various reasons some titles are more likely to make it than others.

 

 

 

 

Is the process of re-mastering and re-storing a difficult one?
Depends on the state of the masters, if they are in good to fairly good condition it is yes time consuming but still standard procedure however is the state of the master was not a good one than it’s a completely different story!

 

How do select the titles that you release, is there a catalogue of titles available, or does it involve tracking down each one via film or music companies?
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I prefer to do previously unreleased scores, occasionally I also do reissues of long sold out scores, and when possible adding as much previously unreleased good music to them as possible. In most cases you have to track them down one by one but some publishers also have lists of what they have.

 

Do composers have a say in what tracks that you release, or is it a case of they have finished the project and the music is then the property of the film company?

 
It depends on the projects really. When I deal directly with the composers I give them a lot of say, we discuss and together decide what to put in the finished record. When dealing with the production or publisher it’s a different story however even there, there is often the chance to discuss what will work best.

 

The Peplum is a genre that must be popular as you have released several of these, what would you say is the most popular genre of film soundtrack?

 


I love doing Peplum because I grew up watching Peplum (along Spaghetti Westerns) and there are still lots of peplum scores I watched that don’t have a score release on CD so you already know I ll be doing more of that. Every title is a different beast, with a different target audience, there are fans of peplum, fans of drama, fans of horror, spaghetti westerns, erotic movies, animated, comedy…I have covered a lot of genres along peplum, they all sell well in their specific niche but perhaps drama is the most popular.

 

 

How long does it take to release a soundtrack from start to finish and is the art work owned by the film company or by the artist etc?

 
It takes more than many people would think and less than others would imagine but at least in my case it always takes a few weeks from the very early stages; from acquiring the rights and licenses, work on the master, the artwork. It’s not a short process really.
Artwork often is owned by the film company but there are also agencies who own various items of artwork, so again every title is a different beast.

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You normally do limited editions of 300, do these always sell out and have you ever ad to do a re-press?

 
Yes because the market is what it is nowadays. Sometimes they sell out, sometimes they don’t. So far I have repressed only 2 titles and only because there was a lot of demand. Once the run is out, it is out and I will not do a repress.
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Would you consider entering into the market to release scores from the new movies such as blockbusters like STAR WARS or are you happy to release music from older movies, and concentrate on these?

 
Definitely happier to work with the older more obscure titles, even though STAR WARS is no teenager anymore now, however it is not obscure enough, is it?

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Who is your own personal favourite composer or composers?

 
My all time favourite composer since 1982 and until the day I die is BASIL POLEDOURIS. Other composers I hold in the highest esteem MIKLOS ROZSA, BERNARD HERRMANN, ALRED NEWMAN, JOHN SCOTT, JAMES BERNARD, JERRY GOLDSMITH, BRUCO BROUGHTON, JOHN DEBNEY, TORU TAKEMITSU, AKIRA IFUKUBE, MASARU SATO, FRANCESCO De MASI, BRUNO NICOLAI, A.F.LAVAGNINO, ENNIO MORRICONE, CARLO SAVINA, CARLO RUSTICHELLI, RIZ ORTOLANI, GEORGES DELERUE, PHILPPE SARDE, MAURICE JARRE and more classics, more contemporary ones like CHRISTOPHER YOUNG, ROQUE BANOS, CARLES CASES, RACHEL PORTMAN, THOMAS NEWMAN, MICHAEL GIACCHINO and a “few” more.

 

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When you look at a score to release what do you take into account?
I have to like it, if it gives nothing to me than it’s a no go. Than if Ideally I can manage to sell it to other fellow film music lovers even better so Ideally I can break even and make some profit to fund future releases, it’s that simple for me.

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British movie music from the 1960’s I think is not represented that well, music from the films of AMICUS and TYBURN for example should be released, as it is just so good, do you think this is something that KRONOS might consider for future projects?
As you know I m always in to do some good music but it is never easy to get things going, from personal experience I know that certain titles are sadly bound to keep piling up dust until they turn to dust themselves, either thanks to someone forgetting about them or to someone who asks an unrealistic amount to license it. However Kronos has done already a good couple of titles many deemed impossible and as I said before, never and ever are not words I use often or even like!

 

 

The Gold series is a popular one, can you tell us if there is anything being added to this in the near future?
Yes a good bunch of titles are in the pipeline and all will be revealed in due time, but I can say there is something for everyone, or almost so hang on in there and keep your ears on the ground and await the tremors.

 
Godwin

webpage: http://www.kronosrecords.com

TALKING FILMS AND MUSIC WITH COMPOSER GHIYA RUSHIDAT.

Ghiya Rushidat in my opinion is one of the rising stars within the film scoring fraternity, she has written some wonderfully lyrical music for the projects she has been involved with and has the ability to produce small intimate works as well as grand and lush scores. As well as being an accomplished pianist and composer she is also a film producer.  My thanks to Ghiya for answering my questions, and also thank you to Jason Drury for his help in contacting the composer.

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Can I begin by asking you, what do you think is the purpose of music in film?
Music is a subconscious form of feeding the audience with information, emotions, and thoughts. It makes them anticipate or get shocked by an event. It allows them to connect better with characters and their stories and triggers their emotions. Music excites you in a battle scene, it gets you on your toes when a thief is about to enter a house, it makes you cry when the hero dies, or makes you laugh even better when a character says or does something funny. The art of music (or silence, meaning when to use music and when not) can be very underrated. Imagine a horror film with horror music, and imagine the same horror film with comedy music, see what difference it makes here? One of my favourite quotes by Star Wars (1977) director, George Lucas, who said that “the sound and music are 50% of the entertainment in a movie”.

 

 
I understand that it was TITANIC that made you want to write music for films, was this also the first time that you realised that there was music in films?

The first time I was “aware” of the music was when I saw Little Mermaid at the age of 5. The score by Alan Menkin and the mermaid’s theme captivated me for years and I can STILL hum the melody although I have not watched the movie again since then.

 

Do you collect film soundtracks at all?

Yes, I do. I am a sucker for collecting soundtracks and physical albums. I have all music on my phone but still go old school for vinyl and CDs when it comes to film scores.
Do you come from a family background that was musical in any way?
Not at all! None of my family members (close or distant) has anything to do with music or even played an instrument. They all appreciate music and my mother even used to listen to Tchaikovsky and Mozart while pregnant with me. She used to sing to me all the time and I would play by ear whatever she sings and start improvising on it. So, I guess I am just born with it 🙂

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What musical education did you receive?
I have been classically trained as a concert pianist since the age of 12. I received my Bachelor’s degree from Jordan, my Licentiate LRSM from the Royal College of Music in UK, and my Diploma D’etude from France. I also received courses in musical theory, composition, and conducting from Trinity College in UK and a couple more courses here in the US and mentorship programs in Film Scoring.
TITANIC and James Horner had a big influence upon you, but are there any other composers either from film music or other genres of music that you would say have inspired and influenced you?
For sure, each composer has their imprint and their voice that inspires me. I listen to almost all composers and love their music and the way the convey emotions. I especially enjoy the music of Jerry Goldsmith, Hans Zimmer, Thomas Newman, Brian Tyler, Sarah Schachner, Pinar Toprak, Michael Giacchino, John Powell, Neal Acree, Rachel Portman, Alan Silvestri, and the MASTER John Williams. I can go forever with my list but I will stop here for now. What James Horner scores do you like the most and for what reasons? A Beautiful Mind cue of the Kaleidoscope and Avatar’s Jake’s First Flight are two tracks I always meditate to. They uplift me and my soul, the build-up is insane and makes me feel like I am soaring or having an out of body experience! I love his scores for almost anything, really!

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When you are working out your themes for a movie project, do you use piano and then develop them into orchestral pieces, or do you use a more technical method?

Being a pianist originally, I always start with the piano. It has all the harmonies I need to “visualize” the arrangement and orchestration. Do you think that many of the film scores today are lacking a central theme that the audience can identify with? Yes. I don’t really remember when I last left the movie theatre humming the movie’s theme.

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PEN OF MIRRORS, which was a short was released in 2014, how did you become involved on the movie, and what size orchestra were you able to utilise on the score, the music is so effective within the movie, but it never overpowers, how much music was there in the film?
Thank you! Music was 80% of the film, it was composed to script and not to picture, so despite how challenging that might sound, it was super fun and creative. We did not have the time or the big budget to score with orchestra, but we did use Nicolas Laget’s talents in recording the flute and drums, and of course mixing the score.

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You at times have scored smaller films with lower budgets with a rather large-scale score, which is something that James Horner used to do in his early career, do you prefer writing for a large orchestra as opposed to writing for smaller ensembles? I love writing. period. There are times when the score does not need more than a piano and a flute, for example, and there are times when we need a large-scale orchestra. Of course any composer would DREAM of recording with orchestras all the time, as it is a different experience and very grand, it gives me Goosebumps every time I do it, but I also enjoy and embrace minimalism and the intimacy of an instrument or two depending on the musical vision of the composer and the director or producer.

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When working on a film is there any set way of approaching it for you, by this I mean do you develop a central theme initially and then develop this and maybe build the remainder of the score on it?

Working with a theme makes it easier and more structured for me, so if we have a theme I would go from there and start playing around with the arrangements and rhythms. There is no set way, but it all depends on the conversation between me and the head of the project I am scoring. Sometimes the theme is not necessary and can be a burden to the score, so we opt out of it. It all really depends on the story and its elements and what we want to convey to the audience.

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Also, is there a set routine or schedule when you are scoring a film, ie Main Title through to end credits, or do you tackle smaller cues first?

 

I go with what my heart tells me, I know it is not very systematic, but I improvise and work with the scenes that speak to me first and I take it from there. It has been working great so far as I am tackling that raw intuition and unleashing its creative vision.

 

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You have worked on films, tv series, documentaries and ads, is it harder coming up with a piece of music for short running time as opposed to creating a theme for a movie where you have the duration of the film to introduce and develop it?
It is definitely more challenging when you only have 5 minutes to create a full story in music, you don’t have the luxury to do much, but it also gives you that discipline and focus on making sure you don’t just “clutter” the film with music. Which is a great way to learn. Short films teach us to prioritize and condense thoughts in a short period of time.

Is orchestration an important part of the composing process for you and do you orchestrate all of our music for film?

Orchestration is everything. It is the sparkles and shimmers of the piece. You might have all the ingredients to a recipe, but you would need to know the measurements too, and this is kind of what orchestration is to me. I have orchestrated all of my projects except for two when we had a bigger budget and less time, I needed to manage time and priorities.

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Do you conduct all of your scores, or do you have a conductor so that you can focus upon the actual recording of the music?
I always have a conductor, while I LOVE being with the musicians while recording, I would rather be in the control booth listening to the overall sound and making sure I have my undivided attention on the score and the sound of it through speakers.

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You have recently released a compilation of your film music, are there any plans to release any more of you film music maybe a complete score?
Yes, I am in the works right now of releasing my first physical album, new tracks and music of video game and film scores, with Buy-Soundtrax, I am so excited and there you go, you are the FIRST to know now! 🙂

 

 

We look forward to that, soon I hope. You also produce films as well as acting in them and composing the scores, is it difficult trying to fit in all these careers and as a producer are you more conscious about what the composer is doing on one of your productions?

The acting part was VERY random. A producer and director I work with was here in Los Angeles shooting a TV series and was like: we have a few lines for you. I went for the experience and it was fun, I would never do it again though because I suck at acting. Producing, however, is a different story. I am passionate about starting from scratch on anything. I LOVE movies and storytelling, and there is a business side of me that wants to be unleashed and the music composition career is not enough for it to blossom. I really enjoy producing movies, but composition is my main passion and career.

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Going back to PEN OF MIRRORS how many times did you watch the movie before getting ideas about where music should be placed and the style of music that you would write? Have you encountered the TEMP TRACK and is this something that you think is a useful tool for composers?
As I mentioned, it was all written to script. I was handwriting it with pen and paper while spending a few hours at a lake every day. Then the picture came, and I started putting the music to it and tweaking as I go. It was a magical experience for me and the director who never even shared with me a temp track. A dream come true for every composer!!

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Do you have any preferences regarding studios when you record your film music, and have you ever recorded in London?
I am recording soon in London. My favourite studio in Los Angeles would be The Bridge, because I love working with Greg Curtis and the acoustics of the facility is impeccable. I didn’t get the chance to record there yet but hopefully soon.

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What is next for you?

The album, a meditation album, two shorts, a VR game, and a feature coming. And hopefully more as days unfold.

 

TALKING TO COMPOSER GUY FARLEY.

Guy Farley is probably one of the busiest composers working in TV,FILM and the music business in general, you have probably without knowing it heard some of his work  as he is a composer that is comfortable scoring, adverts, shorts, feature films and TV series and shows. My thanks to Guy for his time and for a great interview. 
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Was it film music that attracted you to becoming a composer?

From and early age, I loved the sound of film music, what it evoked, the drama and great melodies. Also, I grew up going to the local cinema and the music was a big part of that experience for me, I liked going out and buying soundtracks.

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What musical education did you undertake?

Classical in essence, I studied piano from the age of 6, classical repertoire, organ, choral
and musicianship which took on all forms in the study of music.
Later, I studied harmony and conducting to further my interest and ability as a film composer.

 

Your score for THE HOT POTATO is a favourite of mine, there are definite nods to John Barry throughout, was this sound something that you set out to create, or did the director have specific instructions as to what style he wanted?

 

The director, Tim Lewiston, said to me at the start that he wanted the sound of the 60’s movie era but not taking itself too seriously. After all this was a caper movie set in the 60’s, the music didn’t need reinventing nor was it exploring characters in depth that might have required another type of score.
He had tried other more modern band led music on the edit which had not worked.

At the start of the edit, they were struggling to find temp music from scores in the 60’s era that could work in the story telling of THP, actually quite difficult to find. Although some of Barry’s music was used in the temp, in the end there wasn’t much temp at all during the edit and I was writing and delivering demos all the way through. Better for me I would add and gave me more freedom, even in that style.
On seeing the film for the first time I completely got this take on the music, it made it more humorous too. If JB had been available he would have hired him to score the film.

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I know that you were lucky enough to see John Barry conduct at the sessions for CHAPLIN, what composers would you say have inspired you or even influenced you in the way that you write. These can be film music composers or classical?

 

So many, classical, contemporary, film composers, bands and many styles. I suppose my whole musical life, everything I grew up listening to that affected me, that I loved, produces what I write. I often find on hearing the work of a composer I haven’t heard for a while that I can immediately hear that writer’s influence in my music. I love that process because it is a language and when I come across beautiful or affecting musical progressions, melodies, harmony or orchestration I keep it in the back of my mind and where I can I use the language and just try to make it my own.
In my studio I have a library of scores with yellow markers of parts that interest me, creation of sounds that I have heard, its a permanent form of study for me and I love it. I love reading the scores and seeing the blue print of how the music was originally conceived and written.

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In terms of names that come to mind instantly, here you go: Dvorak, Mozart, Bach, Debussy, Ravel, Stravinsky, Holst, Vaughan Williams, to the likes of Gershwin, John Adams, Steve Reich, Glass to Genesis, Pink Floyd, Supertramp to Miles Davis, Bill Evans, Claus Ogerman, Antonio Jobim, Stan Getz and Piazzola,….then in film, Herrmann, Barry, Goldsmith, Bernstein, Williams and Morricone and so on and on…I try and listen to as much music as I can, modern, contemporary, pop and classical. I want the work of other composers to take me somewhere different from what I am used to or go back to.

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Going back to the HOT POTATO, what size orchestra did you have for the score, and where did you record it?

 

From memory, big band plus strings, so Jazz drums (an original 60’s kit), Double and Electric bass, 30 strings, 2 trumpets, 4 saxes, 3 trombones, tuba, 4 Alto flutes! doubling bass flutes, concert and piccolo. Vibraphone, Xylophone, various percussion, timpani, harp and piano. Andy Dudman recorded and score in Studio one at Abbey Road. We mixed it at British Grove.

 

You have collaborated with director
Anthony Hickox a number of times, does he have a hands on approach when it
comes to the style or the placing of the music?

 

Tony and I met in the early 80s and became good friends. His mother was an Oscar winning editor, Anne Coates and his father, Douglas Hickox, a well known director. We used to do movie night back then, every Sunday, we loved film.

My first film score was also Tony’s first film as a director, Rock A Bye Baby, a short film ghost story and the start for both of us, a big learning experience too.
I have worked with him several times since on different projects and it is a relationship I always enjoy, he gives me freedom, encouragement, ideas, direction and he tells me when he ‘hates it’!

He is one of those rare directors today who wants to hear the theme and the sound early on. Once he gets that he lets you be the film composer. He doesn’t interfere. He listens to demos of every single cue, often without the film! He’ll listen in a airport, while travelling or out at dinner and I get a ‘love it’ or ‘hate it’ back.
I have a great working relationship with Tony, we each respect what the other does and we are equally passionate about the creative process to the point of a good shout and rant!

 

MODIGLIANI is another wonderful score, how did you
become involved on the project, and how much music did you write for the movie?

From the moment I set eyes on the film I wanted to score it.
The editor, Emma Hickox (sister of Anthony), had cut together a short assembly of scenes which got to see.

 

 

I went to my studio, completely inspired by the emotion in the excerpts I had seen and wrote my theme, I think about 3 or 4 minutes of music. I then recorded what I had written with an orchestra whilst recording for a pop session at Sony Whitfield Street and delivered it to the editor. The director was still looking for the right composer and had already approached Elmer Bernstein! To my good fortune the editor, without my knowing, had put my piece to a very emotional and poignant scene in the film, one they had found no temp music for. At the end of the screening the director asked Emma where the music was from and she told him I had written it. We met the following morning and the journey began instantly. I wrote a complete original score and did some arrangements and production of various other pieces needed.
There was nothing in the film musically that I wasn’t involved with, he wanted me to oversee all of the music.

You have worked on feature films and television productions; do you find that the two are different when it comes to scoring say a TV series or a documentary as opposed to writing for motion picture?

 

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No, in that the writing process is still the same, themes, motifs, sound palette and the development of the music. Yes, in that the canvas of film has always seemed much bigger to me and more attractive.

It is one story told in one sitting, say 90-120 minutes. The music presents itself at the start and weaves through the film developing as needed to the end. One body of work.
In TV, especially a series, the music approach and the amount of music required has to work with the needs of the series and there are all sorts of constraints in TV different from film.  There are different instructions and requirements, keeping the momentum, the energy and the interest as you move from one episode to another and I find this process completely different from say working with auteurs in film. All directors are different of course as is their approach to music and the job of the score. I have always found in TV that once you get going and the music is accepted, generally you are left to get on with it and produce the finished music on time and on budget. In film each director I work with wants to hear every single piece in demo form and I feel that the working relationship is somehow much closer and more collaborative.
Much of this is ruled by sheer production pressure in both cases.
In documentary, you have the added difficulty of the voice over. This means the music will invariably sit low in the mix and hardly be heard. Frustrating when you put your heart into writing a good piece of music but the music must serve the film and I always think, in documentary scoring, its wonderful to have the odd moment where the music is out on top, but it never lasts long!

 

Do you perform on any of your film scores?
I do. If an orchestra is required I always conduct. I find this to be the most important and efficient job for me as the composer and in the recording and production of my score. No one knows the music like I do.

I don’t like my own piano playing but when necessary I will play those cues. I like the interpretation of other musicians. Strangely, I have often found that people prefer my performance than more talented session players, probably because I am the author of the music, I have lived with it for longer and in some way I must ‘feel it’ slightly differently.  Its open to interpretation, especially with the picture. If there are synth parts, I play and record all of those in my studio.

 

You worked on A GOOD AMERICAN with
Christopher Slaski, did you collaborate or were you each responsible for sections of the
score?

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Chris and I have known each other for a long time now and have a lot of shared musical interests. We have worked together on all sorts of projects from Film, TV, advertising and arrangements for artists. We know each other very well and our musical sensitivities are the same. On AGA, Chris had met the director in Berlin before I got involved. He asked me if I would collaborate, a pleasure to do. The film allowed the score to be divided evenly into certain types and styles of cues, emotion and action.
We produced a cue sheet with the director, Friedrich Moser and in this instance Chris decided to take on the emotion supporting our protagonist, Bill Binney, whilst I took on the action and terror. We shared our ideas from the start, we agreed on our orchestral line up so that we knew what instrumentation we were writing for and we sent each other demos before they went to the director. Once the score got going we were able to interchange and use each other’s themes and ideas in the scoring process. We wanted the score to have integrity in its sound and not to sound like the work of different composers, which I think we achieved well.

Your scores are very thematic, do you think that the use of a main title theme to introduce the film or TV program is becoming a thing of the past?

I write thematically, music makes sense to me this way, but it is seen as old fashioned today. There is little melody writing in modern film scores, you have to listen to a Williams score to find a great melody. There is a general feeling that directors and film production houses don’t want the music to take over or control the film with the use of strongly thematic music and I know of one composer who was asked to remove every melody from each cue leaving just the backing tracks. I do however believe that there are no rules to scoring film, either the music works or it doesn’t, no matter what you use or how you score it and of course that conclusion is entirely subjective. Title music? – I would say a thing of the past, audiences don’t have the patience to sit and listen through, they want to be entertained instantly. The Bond films still get away with it, but it is not like it used to be, opening credits with opening music introducing the musical sound and template for the film ahead…. European film makers like melody and thematic writing and also I find they shoot film to allow for music too… I have scored quite a few European films and composers and music is definitely treated differently, dare I say with more respect, it certainly seems this way. Nowadays it seems that everyone on the production has a say on the music, you can imagine how frustrating this is and what the result is.

 

 

How many times do you watch a movie before you begin to start work on the score, and is the use of a temp track helpful to a composer when he or she is viewing a movie for the first time, or is it counterproductive?

I start working the moment I am committed to the film, my head starts work.
Of course watching the film is the most important part of the process because I react to what I see and feel and this encompasses everything from instruments, themes, styles, harmony, sound, pace, etc etc… And each film is a different experience. Usually I watch the film on my own before I see or talk it through with the director, then I like to go through it in detail with the director. By this time I have watched it a few times and produced a working cue sheet to get an important overview of my job and what is required of me. This can be created by the existing temp music or it can be a mixture of opinions (mine, director, editor) as to where and what music is needed.
I like to be well organised and I prefer to work chronologically. I don’t start a story half way through or at the pivotal moment, I start at the beginning and the score evolves as the film does. I like this process. I can always go back and use ideas developed later in the score, but I rarely do.

Temp tracks are very useful but can be very destructive. If used well and provided the director and his team have not fallen in love with the temp music, then it is a useful working guide to seeing how music works with a scene in many ways. This then translates usefully for the composer. For me its a big problem if I am asked to ‘copy’ the temp music, which usually means one of us (director or composer) has failed at our job!

 

Do you always conduct  your film scores or is this not always possible, likewise do you orchestrate your scores, and do you believe that orchestration can at times be just as important as the composition of the music?

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I do conduct my own scores, I like conducting and I believe I am the best person to produce from the orchestra what I intended with the added knowledge of everything that has been said to me by the director. Sometimes I feel being out on the floor with all those musicians is the safest place to be too!! I always orchestrate my own scores because I don’t want to risk my music taking on someone else’s voice. My demos are very detailed and they are presented to the director as the music I will record, rather than a rough idea. Nowadays, the director and producers don’t want to hear an orchestra play a cue they haven’t heard before in demo form. This is not to say orchestrators are not good, they are and I use them. Once I am happy with what I have written I send my work to my orchestrator who sets it to Sibelius and sends me the first draft to comment on. On paper I will make adjustments and amendments and the score goes back and fourth until it is ready for the copyist to prepare parts for the musicians. These all have to be perfect and faultless. The musician needs everything in front of him or her to save time and to be efficient in the performance. I always encourage suggestions and expect corrections, but I always insist on knowing. I don’t want to get to a session and hear a part I never wrote…as the composer I know the film intimately and what is required from the music and what I have written, I don’t need a counter melody or additional parts added without my knowledge. In film today, the work of an orchestrator (given that the composer can actually compose!) is to bring the demo to life without noticeable changes unless…a bespoke piece of work is required of the orchestrator, an arrangement or an orchestration of a two stave sketch for example. Trust is important here. The orchestrators I work with are far more knowledgeable than I am and I like the music to pass by them with their overview of what I have written. I have great respect for their knowledge and musical ability. In the past, many of the great film composers have relied on their orchestrators to produce outstanding work. When Jerry Goldsmith collected his Oscar for The Omen, the first person he thanked was Arthur Morton, his orchestrator. Great respect.

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You have worked with a few Italian directors, does the attitude and approach to music in film differ from country to country?

I would say yes most certainly. Firstly, many of the European countries make their own films and they really encourage film making and film auteurs. I have found that European directors treat the scoring process differently than UK or US productions and that generally the composer is given a lot more freedom to compose. There is therefore more artistic license granted. They still use temp music but I find they really do want original music, they want you, someone who can do what they cannot, to be original to their film, to deliver a sound and a score that is unique to their vision as a director. In my experience this applies to all the directors I have worked with in Portugal, Italy, France, Holland and Poland and Germany.

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What are your earliest memories of any kind of music and do you come from a family that is musical?

 

The music my mother played on the piano as far back as I can remember, Mozart, Beethoven and Chopin. We had a piano at home and although there was always music in the house, I wouldn’t say we were especially a musical family. My sisters played recorders and piano but not seriously. My father love opera and my parents had an eclectic collection of records, which I was exposed to all the time. It is fair to say music came naturally to me, I had a musical ear, I could pick up tunes and replay them on the piano with ease and I found music deeply moving.

You have worked on a couple of movies
where you wrote additional music, ANTHROPOID and THE CROWN, what does this
mean, in effect has the composer finished the assignment and the producers maybe
want more?

 

 

In essence it means I didn’t write the whole score. On Anthropoid, the director, Sean Ellis, wanted both Robin Foster and I to score the film. In the end, as editing moved on, Robin was writing the underscore and Sean was asking me to write a choral requiem for the end of the film as well as various arrangements of Violin works and some Django Reinhardt songs. Once Robin had finished his score, I played and recorded his piano parts in the hall at Air where I was recording the choir and other pieces.
I do like collaborations and Robin and I do different things musically, which makes it interesting. Its a good match.

On ‘The Crown’, I was asked by Peter Morgan, the writer and producer, to work with Hans Zimmer and Rupert Gregson Williams, so effectively the score was divided up between the writers. Ultimately the score is the work of a handful of composers working with and using the themes originally written by Hans for the show.
There was a lot of music for The Crown, all recorded live, so a lot of work to do, you really do need a strong and efficient production line to do this.

You scored TSOTSI, but your score was replaced, what is the story behind this as I thought your score was excellent?

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Actually it was the other way around! The film was already scored by the time I got a call from my agent saying the producers wanted to meet to discuss re-scoring the film. It was a very strong and powerful film, with some great performances, the producers wanted to see if the film would take a more melodic, thematic score. There was nothing wrong with the original score and it was strongly championed by Gavin Hood, the director, the film was very, very good. The producers wanted to try a different musical direction and I was asked to write a new score. By the time they had remixed my new score with the film, the film had won first prize at Edinburgh and the success of the film had started. With it’s first top award there was no point in changing the film, especially when the director didn’t want to. My score was just a different approach and it was a wonderful experience to work on a film like this.

 

Recently Caldera records released a compilation of you film music, were you involved in the selection of the cues that were to be included?

Caldera have a very passionate and strong minded producer in Stephan Eicke. He really likes to get involved in the music, to the point where he hears the work in process, comes to sessions and even then won’t make a decision until it is complete and he has seen the film. He is a composer himself, intelligent and cares about every detail in the release of a soundtrack.

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It is fair to say, on this and all the albums of mine that Caldera have released, that Stephan chooses the material and produces the soundtrack . He is involved with the artwork, layout, track order, booklet and most of all, the music!

 

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TULA THE REVOLT, is excellent, will there be a full  score release of this do you think?

I am not sure about this, Stephan chose the cues he liked from what was quite a long score and we have not talked about a full score release. You never know, if the demand is there it can easily happen.

Away from film you have worked with an
array of talented artists, such as Amy Winehouse, Emeli Sande, Paloma Faith
and Eliza Doolittle, is this a very different process from writing for the cinema?

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Yes and its an important release for me, it takes me back to musical roots, to different genres and ideas and I love working with singers, just such a different experience. Don’t think for a moment I don’t use material from each idiom, I do, all the time. I put film into my work with artists and where needed I put pop into film scoring. Its a very different way of thinking, of production and again, no rules. I love jumping from one style of music to another and its a healthy, valuable thing to do. At one point I was scoring 4 or 5 films a year and you can easily get stuck in that zone…reams of music. I believe strongly you need a break from it and you need to work on and try different things..

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What would you say is the job of music
in film?

I always asked movie goers, ‘what did you think if the film?’ I then ask about the music. If they didn’t notice the music but loved the film, then its a good score. If the music is considered good on top of a good film, then this a bonus for the score. The job of the music is to hold the hand of the audience and guide them through the film the way the director wants. Music can access all sorts of emotions and provide valuable layers of emotion that film sometimes cannot reach. Although I love a great movie score, the music is secondary to the film, it must serve and enhance the film and the narrative. For me there are no rules in film music, a musical idea either works or it doesn’t in film, but ultimately it is the film that needs to be seen as outstanding or brilliant or a success, not the music.

 

The-Flock

INTERVIEW WITH COMPOSER, IAN ARBER.

 

Ian Arber is a film and television composer, known for his work on “I Am Bolt” (2016), “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation” (2015), “My Name Is Lenny” (2017) and BBC2’s comedy “Quacks” (2017). Ian is an emerging talent in the film music world. With a growing portfolio of work across a variety of genres, Ian is bringing a fresh and unique compositional style to each project…

 

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I know you started in music from the age of five, so what are your earliest memories of any music?

 

I began playing cello at age 5. My earliest memories of music were certainly around this time period, I used to play in very young orchestras when I was 7/8 years old. I remember being fascinated by instruments, and wanted to build a collection. I had a bass guitar, electric guitar, classical guitar, cello and piano before the age of 10.

 

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What musical studies did you undertake?

I studied cello through my whole childhood, earning grade 8 in my teens. I studied piano from 10, then began to produce music later in my teens. At university I studied Music Technology which focussed on music production, orchestration and composition.

Were you always drawn to TV or film music, or was this something that just happened as you experimented with performing and composing?
I was obsessed with movies, and movie music as a kid. Ever since seeing E.T. I was fascinated in what music could do to picture. It wasn’t until university that I really understood what it took to make a career as a film and TV composer. I would say that I have always been drawn to working in music, and that film was a passion I wanted to pursue in combination.

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You worked as Joe Kraemer’s assistant on MISSION IMPOSSIBLE ROGUE NATION, what was your duties as assistant on this?

Cheerleader. Friend. No, seriously.. I guess doing what I could to allow Joe to focus on the creative aspects of the scoring process. On such a huge movie with intense deadlines, it was important to support Joe to allow him to focus on the music.

 

 

You collaborated with Ron Scalpello the director on MY NAME IS LENNY, did he have any specific instructions or ideas concerning what style of music he though the film needed?
I loved working with Ron. He had a very clear, and collaborative approach to the Lenny score. The basic idea was for the score to represent the trauma of Lenny’s past, and building uncontrollable anger within as a result. So the score is very sound-design heavy at parts, and builds throughout to disturbing and claustrophobic climaxes. We also wanted to incorporate the sound or feeling of punching in the percussion for some of the fight scenes. I actually ended up recording the sound of myself punching my studio sofa, and layering this in with the percussion.

How many players did you use on MY NAME IS LENNY?

 
One. Just me. We didn’t have the budget for an orchestra, and most of the score is distorted cello, piano and bass and electric guitar, all of which I performed live.

So you perform on your score, your scores, and do you conduct at all?
I perform on every score. Even if it’s just layering some cello ambience or percussion on top of samples to bring them to life. On the BBC series ‘Quacks’ I performed every instrument in an almost fully live score. A large selection of percussion and props from the show, cello, violin, guitars and a plucked piano.

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You have worked on many documentaries, I AM BOLT and MO FARAH RACE OF HIS LIFE, come to mind straight away, is it more difficult working on a documentary as opposed to writing a score for a feature film?

I haven’t actually worked on a huge amount.. Perhaps 3 or 4, but generally I love working on cinematic documentaries. I Am Bolt and Mo Farah were both very cinematic and required “big” scores. It can be tricky to work on a documentary, as generally there is a lot of dialogue, and not a lot of room for a melody. But in the case of these 2, there was plenty of space for thematic writing.

Did you have any say in compiling what music went onto the MY NAME IS LENNY and I AM BOLT soundtrack releases?
Yes I put together the tracks/suits for soundtrack release, in collaboration with the label. They sometimes suggest an order change or to perhaps remove or add another track.

 

Are there any composers from film music and other genres of music that you feel have influenced you?


Bernard Herrmann, John Barry, John Williams, Joe Kraemer, Muse, Radiohead.. to name a few.

You worked on all 6 episodes of QUACKS for TV, is it demanding for the composer working on a series?

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Yes, the whole of series 1! 🙂 – It can be, deadlines in TV can be very tight. I was scoring an episode a week at some stage on Quacks. I’m currently working on season 2 of Netflix show ‘Medici: Lorenzo the Magnificent’ and it is a lot of music, to be written in a short amount of time. So it’s important to keep writing and stay on top of deadlines.

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What was your first scoring assignment, and how did you become involved on the project?
My first project was scoring a short film for a good friend and very talented director, Matt Campbell. I think I may have dropped him a message on facebook with my portfolio back in 2009 and we hit it off. I’ve scored 3 or 4 of his films since then.

For you what is the best time to become involved on a movie, do you start at the rough-cut stage and spot the movie with the director or producer or are you given a script?
It differs from project to project. The best time, for me, is to be hired during filming, when they have some rough footage from the shoot. Ideally you’re working with some picture, and have enough time to experiment and come up with some ideas before the edit starts. Deadlines suddenly become tight after the locked cut, so ideally I’m on board a good amount of time before then.

 

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Is it hard to break into writing for film and TV?

Very… There’s no right way into the industry. You have to create your own network and make your own luck.

Budgets at times can be rather tight, especially for the music as it is often the last thing that is considered, if the budget is low how does this effect the way in which you score a film or TV project?

 
Low budget usually means no live musicians. You have to be a great programmer to be a composer these days. I make the samples sound as real as possible and record a layer or two of live instruments myself.

 

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Have you encountered the TEMP track on any of your assignments, if so did you find that it was useful to you or maybe distracting?
I don’t think I’ve ever NOT encountered the temp. Sometimes it’s useful, sometimes it’s problematic. If the temp is a rough guide for tone and instrumentation or emotion, that’s fine. But sometimes a director can fall in love with a temp track, which can be tricky for a composer. I would hate to have to do a sound-alike of a temp track.
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How do approach a project, I mean do you start with core themes and develop the score around these or do you work on smaller cues and stabs and from these develop the main themes?

This can differ.. but generally I like to work on some core themes. Once I have a few themes or ideas I and the director are happy with, I’ll begin to attack scenes. Either from scene one, or perhaps from the ‘biggest’ scene of the movie and backwards.

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What are you working on at the moment?

motown
I’m in the middle of season 2 of Medici. I’m also working on a documentary called The Story of Motown. There are a couple very exciting projects lined up for later in 2018 too.

 

arber