David Poore
 
 
 
 

News and Comment: simply a place for me to share a few thoughts.

Screened Music Network at BFI
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On Monday 11th November I gave one of Screened Music Network’s masterclasses, the subject was collaborative scoring with world musicians. I spoke for the first half of the afternoon using video and audio examples of my work and then Christian Henson (who heroically stepped in at the 11th hour after Alex Heffes unfortunately had to drop out due to commitments in LA) gave his 90 minute half, also playing clips of his work. (Not sure masterclass is right here as it was more about sharing experiences rather than teaching or instructing, however everyone seemed to take something away from the day).

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The event was a real success having been organized as always by Olivia Dixon and Steve Molesworth who run Screened Music Network, and there were a lot of motivated conversations with composers that followed the seminar well into the evening.

In the words of SMN:

The Screened Music Network Masterclasses are a series of high-end training days for film and television composers.
Unique to Screened Music, the days provide an essential opportunity to investigate some of the latest methods and techniques required of today’s media composers.

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(The room did fill up more than this !!)

It was a real honour for me to be asked to speak at the event which was hosted by Nick Ryan, another composer but also excellent mediator who was able to fire just the right question to me or Christian when appropriate.

It was a great day and I look forward to the next SMN event soon.

 
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Screened Music Network Masterclass
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Mon 11th Nov 2013 Collaborative Scoring will explore some of the ways composers can enrich their work and seek inspiration from other musicians, composers and cultures, with a focus on world musicians. We’ll be hearing from industry-leading composers, Christian Henson (The Devil’s DoubleBlack DeathWild Bill) and David Poore (Life In Cold BloodSpringwatchPlanet Earth – The Future), whose extensive and varied work has lead them to collaborate with some of the world’s finest musicians.

 

The Sessions

David Poore

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David Poore is an Emmy and RTS nominated composer who has written music for over 200 productions for the BBC, ITV and Channel 4, as well as many international channels including PBS, Discovery, National Geographic and Disney. From the flagship Sir David Attenborough series Life In Cold Blood and Life In The Undergrowth to the Springwatch Theme, Channel 4′s Grand Designs, and feature film drama ‘Frail’, David’s scores are continually in demand, in the UK and around the world.David will discuss his work, specifically in the field of natural history where he is often required to supply hints, textures and impressions of world music or geographic references. He will discuss his personal experiences of collaborating with world class session musicians such as percussion virtuoso Paul Clarvis and world wind specialist Dirk Campbell, with tips on communicating well and getting the most out of the players. And with online collaboration now becoming such a valid and popular alternative to working face to face, David will also discuss the advantages and potential pitfalls in collaborating virtually with musicians.

Christian Henson

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Christian Henson

Christian is one of the UK’s most talented and sought after score composers whose vitality and creative approach is very much at the vanguard of the next generation of score composers taking over this industry.Recent career highlights include The Devil’s Double starring Dominic Cooper, directed by Lee Tamahori, two films with director Christopher Smith; Triangle, featuring the vocals of Dot Allison and the critically acclaimed Black Death, (which earned him a Best Original Score award at Screamfest LA), as well as the French blockbuster La Rafle, starring Jean Reno and Melanie Laurent, and a collaboration with Oscar winner, Dario Marianelli for Working Title’s Hippie Hippie Shake. Christian has also scored the globally recognised Agatha Christie’s Poirot.Since his debuts with Les Fils Du Vent & Chasing Liberty (which earned him a ‘Discovery Of The Year’ nomination at the World Soundtrack Awards), Christian has used his broad experience both in orchestral and electronic disciplines to write an eclectic mixture of scores, including the children’s blockbuster fantasy, The Secret Of Moonacre (featuring Bat For Lashes’ Natasha Khan) and Chris Smith’s cult horror hit Severance, (which earned him an Ivor Novello nomination for ‘Best Original Movie Score’ in 2007)

Christian first became immersed in the world of film composition early in his career through his highly acclaimed work within the UK Drum & Bass, Breakbeat and Pop scene; working with the likes of LTJ Bukem, The Freestylers, Scott Walker & Roy Ayers. Through writing for over 50 hit and cult TV series, combined with programming and assisting for a number of film composers including, Anne Dudley, Harry & Rupert Gregson Williams, Dario Marianelli and Patrick Doyle, Christian began forging what is now proving to be one of the most successful film and TV scoring careers in the UK.

 
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Big Cats and Big Studios
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Having just completed work on Disney’s ‘African Cats Adventure’, three 50 minute films produced from the hundreds of hours of incredible footage filmed to create the 2011 Disney feature film ‘African Cats’ directed by Alistair Fothergill and Keith Scholey, I surfaced from the studio with a real sense of job satisfaction.

I was approached in September last year by Keith Scholey and series producer Hilary Jeffkins and asked if I could write for the series. After the initial viewings it was clear that there needed to be more music than would be usual for a natural history documentary series. The main reason for this was the dramatic content and story lines which called for a high amount of narrative music. Where a one hour BBC natural history documentary may have typically twenty five minutes of music these three films would average forty minutes.

So working within a reasonably modest budget I wanted to produce a score which where possible would be written for live orchestra and soloists, and also with a little vocal ingredient.  I made a pact with myself years ago to use live musicians at any opportunity even if I earned less on the production, it being generally accepted that the lasting results of live music in nearly all film scores aesthetically outweigh those of an electronically produced soundtrack by some distance.

I discussed the style of music I’d be producing with orchestrator Will Goodchild and we decided on a suitable size of string arrangement. There wasn’t a lot of time to play with in the production schedule so the studio options were limited.  With the considerations being studio size and availability my best option turned out to be Real World Studios near Bath.  This had the added bonus of being relatively local to my Bristol studio so avoiding the run up to London.

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Will Goodchild had been the first to recommend this studio having worked there in recent weeks with Bristol composer and Massive Attack producer Neil Davidge for a similar string ensemble session. My friend and ex sound dubbing colleague Andrew Wilson had also recommended the studios as he is now based there in the film dubbing suite Red Six. I had of course heard of the studio complex since its inception in the mid 80′s, and the idea of my being there in a professional capacity one day always really appealed to me.

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The sessions (two very long days – though the second was frustratingly postponed due to Bristol’s sudden heavy fall of snow which totally hampered most of the musicians) went exceptionally well and not only were the Bristol Ensemble (conducted by Will Goodchild) on fire but the studio was a real joy to work in. This was mainly due to the fact the the Big Room at RW must be one of the finest and most well appointed control rooms in the country. Both sessions were engineered by Patrick Phillips, assisted by Jose Tomaz Gomes and Oli Jacobs, all who made me feel exceptionally welcome. They don’t have many film related sessions as they mainly cater for bands and vocal artists, so that added an extra element for them too, and film sync was no problem for them.

Mixing at RW

Both days went really smoothly and were very successful in that we got great performances from the ensemble in the Wood Room, with its renowned acoustics, the Big (control) Room was luxuriously expansive to both listen and mix in, and the engineers were a real delight to work with and operationally very fast, and not forgetting the on-site French chef Jerome who provided first class cuisine day and night in the dining room. The relaxing rural setting of the studios, the Big Room built out over a lake with swans and diving kingfishers almost laid on like a special effect, all added to what actually felt more like a holiday retreat.

Additionally for the score I added the musical talents of the amazing Abbie Lathe (voice), Roger Armstrong (flute), and Dirk Campbell (duduk), all who provided me with outstanding performances, recorded either in my own studio or theirs and the recordings winged electronically to me.

Once all recordings were complete it was back to my studio in Bristol and to the job of mixing everything down to 5.1 surround stems – mostly split into one tuned instrumental stem and one percussion stem, for mixing flexibility during the sound dub for Andrew Wilson who this time was mixing at my old studio location of Films At 59.  Due to the lengthy writing and recording process I didn’t want to rush the 5.1 mixes as I’d been looking forward to that bit. However it did take longer than expected and although I enjoyed it I worked until almost literally the last hour before the last final sound mix preparing everything.

Happily for me the end results were extremely well received by Keith, Hilary, and the production team and although there was a large music content I was relieved to know that Kate Hopkins’ (Wounded Buffalo) as always immaculately crafted fx tracks didn’t suffer under the weight of music, largely due to Andrew’s artistry with the faders.

So I really enjoyed working on this project in the writing, the live recordings, in fact the whole music production process, maybe with the exception of the stupidly long hours in the final weeks.

Disney’s ‘African Cats Adventure’. Transmission 2013 (TBC)

 
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