The Last Post

Phil Burrows is a walnut-brained slacker who spends his free time playing Logger Bill on his phone, ogling girls on the internet and hanging with his equally intellectually challenged housemate, Sam.

A pair of menacing brothers pay Phil a visit and it quickly emerges that there has been a misunderstanding. Using on-line wizardry someone has persuaded the brothers that Phil was the dearest friend of their deceased sister Kerry. But the truth is Phil did not know her at all – he was simply an enthusiastic fan of her on-line selfies.

Phil faces a horrible dilemma – either admit to being her ‘pervert stalker’ or pretend she was his soul mate. He is quickly claiming deep fondness for the unfortunate Kerry and is signed up to deliver her funeral eulogy.

But help is at hand in the form of his sidekick Sam. Unfazed by the challenge his friend faces, Sam advises him to base his eulogy on Kerry’s on-line history and announces ‘job done’.

Phil duly delivers a monstrously inappropriate eulogy – but Kerry’s family are not people to take such insults lying down…

This hilarious short comedy was written and directed by Adam Preston, whom I approached after he advertised the role on Shooting People. We met during pre-production after I did a short pitch for him and very quickly settled on the idea of satirising the musical trends in social media advertising, thereby playing it straight rather than emphasising the comedy. After watching the first rough cut of the film with editor Kant Pan I was thrilled by how well the script had translated to the screen, drawing excellent performances from the cast (including Ryan Sampson, Mark Heap, Selom Awadzi and Harry Rafferty) and beautifully shot by DoP Sam Care. Since the film was standing so well on it’s own I did my best to support it without overplaying my hand. Many thanks to Adam, Kant and (producer) Samantha Waite for their encouragement and a special thank you to Angus Moncrieff, who played cornet on the score.

Train Station

CollabFeature is a group of independent filmmakers from all over the world who have come together to create multi-director feature films. Each filmmaker writes and directs a segment of the bigger story in his or her own country.

The second CollabFeature, Train Station (working title) is now in post production. It follows one main character who is played by different actors in different international cities. Each segment is filmed by a different director who continues the story, re-interpreting the situation in his/her own style. Train Station involves over 40 filmmakers in 26 countries.

I composed music for one of these segments, written and directed by Guillem Serrano. I can’t say much without giving away spoilers, but suffice to say that the story begins with a couple acknowledging that their relationship is in crisis and seeking to rekindle it.

Red Kingdom Rising

Mary Ann, a troubled young woman, has been tormented her whole life by dreams of a sinister figure called the Red King and his morbid fairytale kingdom. Following the death of her father, Mary Ann returns to her family home where she recalls the childhood stories of the Red King and Alice from Through the Looking-Glass that her father once read to her. Haunting events and suppressed memories propel Mary Ann through the dark corridors of her parental home into the realms of her nightmares where she must finally confront the Red King and gain closure to her scarred past.

The majority of the music for this feature-length fantasy/horror was, like my work on director Navin Dev’s previous short film The Tree Man, composed using the rules for twelve-tone composition. I also made substantial use of modernist orchestration techniques to emphasise the surreal nature of Mary Ann’s descent into her own personal horrific wonderland. The score itself was for the most part intended to be insidious and atmospheric, rather than grand and thematic, but the timbral “motif” of the Red King was anything but subtle! The instrumentation varies from upright piano and strings for Mary Ann through eerie woodwinds and whispers for Alice to pounding percussion and blaring brass for the Red King.

A special thank you has to go to David Caron who, in addition to playing the role of father in the film, also performed principal cello parts throughout the score. More information about the film can be found at the official website.

The film won the Best Fantasy Feature Film award at Feratum Film Festival 2014.

A nicely dense, imagistic feel and a grasp of the nightmarish (a Lynchian soundscape augments the Svankmajerish rough-hewn Alice imagery)…

Kim Newman

The perfect score helps to blend reality and fantasy seamlessly together.

Simon Hill (Eat Horror)

Martin Thornton’s soundtrack is powerful and impressively haunting.

Maynard Morrissey (Horror Movie Diary)

The music is also good, I think that was the film’s strongest point. It creates an eerie mood.

Tom Kleppe (Captain Christmas Filmblogg) [translated from Norwegian]

It’s a foreboding movie, very eerie and suspenseful in parts, with brass instrument music building the tension in an unnerving fashion.

Ramius Scythe (Horror Chronicles)

The soundtrack is fantastic and helps to add to the atmosphere.

Jorgen Lundin (Independent Flicks)

Prelude to Forever

I composed this piece of music for my good friends Mat & Elaine on the occasion of their wedding in February this year. It was for the bride’s walk up the aisle and it ended up being a little on the long side for a couple of reasons;

  1. I was told the bride would be walking a longer route than she actually did.
  2. Elaine pretty much ran up the aisle to mitigate the chances of Mat changing his mind about the whole thing.

Histories of Hatred

It’s a profoundly uncomfortable theme, and one that is rarely discussed in academic circles: what is our responsibility as intellectuals when it comes to writing histories of hatred?

How can we talk about hatred? Do we merely sanction and further discourses of violence by engaging with them? When is documentation participation? Should we be chroniclers, or should we get involved?

The London Consortium convened a panel of academics, artists and critics to tackle these questions. Drawing on their own experiences in diverse fields and disciplines – from medieval Christian visual culture to contemporary litigation – they offered a series of compelling reflections on ethics and practice. This short documentary reviews key moments from the discussion with organiser Noam Leshem, and features Anthony Julius, Deborah Lipstadt, Pratap Rughani, Senam Okudzeto, Anthony Bale and Joanna Bourke.

This documentary was directed by Jonathan Law and Lily Ford for London Consortium TV. They had used Arvo Pärt’s Fratres on the temp track and after discussing that choice with them I decided not to stray too far from that style of music.

Phil’s Room

Phil’s Room is the story of a fragile introvert locked in the memory of his childhood. He spends his days dreaming of escaping with Kristine – the captivating waitress who works at the cafe he frequents. Rooted in this fantasy world he never quite musters the courage to talk to her until one day he discovers she has gone back to her home country to get married. As the painful truth sweeps away his dreams, he finds that a cold reality and his own limitations are too great to overcome, and his convictions propel him to towards, what becomes, a tragic end.

The director (Jesus Mateos de la Varga) and producer (Mark Harris) had some good suggestions for potential directions this short film score could take, and I tried to take them on board whilst also giving the music my own spin and serving the story as well as I could. I was trying to play up the “child-like” aspects of Phil’s character by choosing simple sounding instruments to play simple sounding music reminiscent of a music box. I then tried to use these instruments in a more emotionally mature manner as Phil’s complex memories of his childhood surface.

The Tree Man

Set between Chapters 15 and 16 of Carlo’s Collodi’s classic novel The Adventures of Pinocchio, The Tree Man depicts Pinocchio’s seemingly final minutes as he hangs from a tree. As he slowly dies, the wooden marionette spiritually journeys into an inferno of fear, guilt and hope through his encounters with key symbolic characters such as the Maiden with Azure Hair and the ghost of the Talking Cricket. As he falls deeper into darkness he learns the crucial dangers and virtues of the mortality he seeks.

The music for this short film, written and directed by Navin Dev, was composed for orchestra and for the most part follows the rules for twelve-tone composition. I chose this compositional method because I felt it would evoke a mood of unease – of things not being quite “right”.

The film won the jury prize at the Puppets on Film Festival 2011. It was also selected for Festival International des Arts de la Marionette 2012, Maelstrom International Fantastic Film Festival 2009, Angel Moving Image Festival 2009, Fantastic Planet Film Festival 2009, Filmstock International Film Festival 2009 and Anchorage International Film Festival 2009.

Red Hood

Once upon a time, cloaked in her favoured red hood, Little Red-Cap set off to Grandmother. But soon she was drawn away from her designated path by what the surrounding woods had to offer – mysteries, beauty and the Wolf. Red, now a 40 year old woman, still bears the same fears, guilt and anger as she remembers the day her life changed. Creating a new red hood for her daughter, she struggles to make the ultimate choice as to whether or not to pass on her identity and in turn her fate.

The music for this psychological horror, written and directed by Navin Dev, was composed for orchestra, mixed choir and soprano. The soprano part was performed by Kasia Middleton.

Washougal International Film Festival 2008 award winner. Shortlisted for award at Sefton Short Film Festival 2008. Selected for Bootleg Film Festival Glasgow 2008, Branchage Jersey International Film Festival 2008, Gold Lion Film Festival 2008, Bacup Film Festival 2008, Amberg Horror Fest 2008, Filmstock International Film Festival 2008, Florence International Film Festival 2008, Omaha Film Festival 2009, Dam Short Film Festival 2009, International Film Festival Egypt 2009 and London Short Film Festival 2010. Available to view at Festival de Cannes: Short Film Corner 2008.