We were very fortunate to have the extremely talented and versatile musician/composer Chris Gordon as composer for ‘Tell Them of Us’. Chris is now composing for the follow-up drama-documentary, ‘William’s Story’.
Here is a little more about Chris and the process of writing for our film:
Chris is a musician, composer and producer from Glasgow. As a recording artist he has held record deals with East West, Atlantic, Reprise, Dreamworks and EMI enjoying success with several different groups (as a singer, guitar player and latterly programmer/producer).
His interest in composing for Film and Television stemmed from the many synchs he achieved as an artist, his music having been used in such programmes as Grey’s Anatomy, The Vampire Diaries, Smallville and Friends among many others. Turning initially to the world of advertising as a way to learn the craft Chris has had work commissioned on over thirty major campaigns in the last few years. Among these there have been many longer, more cinematic pieces which served as an ideal preparation for his goal.
In 2014 he wrote and performed the score for his first film, the WW1 drama “Tell Them Of Us”. The music has been widely praised as an essential ingredient to the films emotional tone and a Soundtrack Album of the recordings will be available in 2015.
Equally at home in the world of cutting edge electronic music (in part due to his time spent working with Oscar winner Atticus Ross) or with more traditional orchestral arrangements, Chris’ real passion lies in finding and enhancing the emotional core of any given scene.
Chris Gordon writes about how he got involved with the project and the process of writing a score:
‘Over cake and coffee in Woodhall Spa, one Sunday in Spring 2014, I asked Pauline (Loven) if she had any plans for music for the film that her and her daughter Nic were working on. I had heard chatter of it the previous evening and was struck by the ambition they were showing in making a feature length film. Having long harboured a desire to score music for films I found myself always too busy with other projects to seriously seek out any opportunities. Here was one falling in my lap, at least if they could be persuaded it was a good idea. There was very little money in it, they said, but as I was fully prepared to do it for free I counted “very little” as a big bonus.
In due course, Nic sent me the teaser trailer she had put together from the first few scenes that had been filmed. She had used some period-appropriate orchestral music (I think it was a piece by Vaughan Williams) and she felt that it suited the mood quite well. I set about replacing this with some new music that attempted to bring a little more depth to the emotion contained in the images. We had spoken of the overall feel Nic was looking for, albeit briefly, and in keeping with the meticulous research, costume design and attention to detail, she wanted the music to feel like it belonged to the period. I was comfortable with this but also felt that if need be I would stray a little from traditional instrumentation and employ some modern production techniques to get the music sitting well with the pictures and dialogue. In this first piece of music I did however stick to the brief, employing some classical guitar to go with the sampled strings and woodwinds that provided the tracks base. Nic seemed happy with the result and after that scenes arrived at a steady pace for the next four months or so.
We were both aware that in an ideal world I would have a near final cut of the film to start work with, however this was just not possible given the filming schedule and the deadline for the premiere. So we proceeded on a scene by scene basis on the understanding that I would spend time tying scenes together when the final cut was ready. I would compose for each scene until I felt it worthy of a listen then send it to Nic for feedback. I recall the words “splendid” and “marvelous” being used often in her replies and fueled by this praise and a growing passion for the work at hand I spent many happy hours tinkering on my keyboards and guitars, and shifting things around on my computer screen, trying to find the right tone for each scene.
In the weeks leading up to the premiere the work became a little more intense. I had a near final cut now and could see how the film was taking shape. There was gaps to fill and scenes that needed to bleed into one another musically in order that the film flowed easily. At other points I simplified music I had already composed after the arrangements seemed a little dense in context. During the process I had put together a few pieces and a few different soundbeds without any particular scene in mind. Again it was the constraints of time that had brought about this strange way of working. Nic used them on some scenes and they seemed to work but I would often feel the need to go back and tinker further to make sure that they really bedded in well.
As the work progressed I felt confident that the music was making a positive difference to the feel and emotion of the film and one scene in particular exemplified this for me. “The account of Robert’s death” where a letter is read, and then a scene imagined from the words, captures for me the films essence of personal loss and the lonely and futile deaths that were the fate of so many young men in WW1.’