Saturday, 23 October 2010

10 Things We Learnt About Rachel Portman

Image: FG/Fohnhouse

Music is the soundtrack to our lives: it conveys our mood, changes as we evolve – although certain melodies remain constant. It creates memories, forms part of an experience, and it’s with us from the beginning until the end, a lot like a musical bed, on which a film lies.

The score lends a hand to the narrative, enabling it to fully express itself and convey it’s message to an attentive audience, ready to watch, listen and be engaged. For this reason, it can be said that music, the soundtrack, is a crucial component in the filmmaking process.

Last night, in support of the film score, composers Rachel Portman (Never Let Me Go) and Molly Nyman and Harry Escott (The Arbor) were at the London Film Festival to talk about their work. After the discussion, we caught up with Portman to find out a bit more about her.

10 things we learnt about Rachel Portman:

1. She got into composing for film as she was “discouraged as a classical composer”. She later realised that it was “the most fascinating job in the world.”

2. Being a female composer hasn’t prevented her from gaining work; however, she does like when she’s given the opportunity to create scores for more thrilling films like The Manchurian Candidate, as she is more known for producing softer music for films such as The Duchess and Nicholas Nickleby.

3. She was the first female to win an Academy Award for best original score (for Emma in 1996).

4. The movie wasn’t a box-office success yet she enjoyed working with Roman Polanski on his adaptation of Oliver Twist.

5. She composes at the piano, but doesn’t play on any of her scores.

6. A composer is usually given about 7 weeks to create the soundtrack, but she was given only 3 and a half for the movie Chocolat.

7. Composing the Beloved score was a challenge, as the director wanted a soundtrack comprising of only African instruments, and her knowledge of such objects was limited.

8. She cites “so much determination” as the key to becoming a successful composer.

9. She got her break when she went to a talk by director Alan Parker (Fame, Bugsy Malone, Mississippi Burning). She was inspired and sent him a tape of her work. He was impressed and subsequently gave her a call.

10. For anyone beginning to gain some recognition and needing an agent, her advice is to choose a junior agent who is also hungry, as they will therefore “grow with you”.

Never Let Me Go, scored by Portman, is released nationwide 21 January 2011.


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