Monday 22 October 2018

Saint Gemma Galgani - New Film on DVD - October 2018


Last week I wrote the music score for our long awaited DVD on Saint Gemma Galgani.  This film has been a long time coming, we purchased the cape for Saint Gemma to wear about 6 years ago, the hat about 4 years ago, the script was written over a year ago.  We were planning to film for this production but then the filming day was cancelled and when re-booked was such hard work with so many difficulties that we almost cancelled it again midway through!

St. Gemma Galgani
Recording the narration took 4 attempts with a faulty sound cable, then the soundcard drivers needed updating via LiveChat with Focusrite, all hell broke loose trying to edit, a college student across the road decided to get himself a loud motorbike and drove it up and down all day long until gone midnight so there was no peace.  Then when it came to writing the music, my computer decided on regular 15 second delays whilst showing the film so I had to regularly compose to no picture where the .avi file was not the correct size for Cubase.

I began the music score but then there were so many delays that it was several days before I could go back to it.  I lost all my inspiration and got very stressed.  In the above VLOG I speak about beginning the music score, instrumentation and share the opening titles.


Finally on Saturday I had just 15 minutes of music left to write and thought I would spend an hour or two finalizing it.  It took me the whole day but was well worth it, the scenes with St. Gemma's Guardian Angel were very moving and I was able to blend a Tenor Recorder with Soundscapes, Strings and Choirs for this and bring in the Tenor Recorder every time the Angel came back on screen.

Screenshot showing St. Gemma Galgani and Guardian Angel

Today we have completed this very inspiring film and it is now available on DVD through our website.

Please take a moment to watch the Trailer here:

Wednesday 10 October 2018

The 40 Martyrs of England and Wales - The Martyrs Walk Film, Music, Catholic Media

 After we completed our first film on Saint Philip Howard, the Earl of Arundel and English Martyr at the beginning of 2008, we were inspired to discover more of the English Martyrs, particularly the 40 martyrs of England and Wales.  An opportunity arose to attend "The Martyrs Walk" in London, led by Joanna Bogle.  

Waiting for the Train to London
We caught the train and met a group of Catholics and historians at Tower Hill.  The Martyrs Walk was led by Joanna Bogle and the Franciscan Friars of Renewal and the idea was to visit historic sites in London, the first Catholic Churches now destroyed, priories torn down during the reformation, and Joanna Bogle would explain the history behind these sites.

We also prayed litanies and sung hymns about the Faith and the martyrs as a witness.

Along the way we stopped at St. Patrick's Church, Soho for Mass, we continued along the busy streets, all the while we photographed, documented and filmed the event.

Bearing Witness to the Martyrs along the streets of London
  It was not until I stood and examined the plaques at Tower Hill that the reality and excitement of our Catholic Faith and History, especially the English Martyrs, struck me.  At this point we had only worked on Saint Philip Howard and discovered him as an awesome witness and martyr.  Seeing the spot where many of our Catholic ancestors were martyrs made it so real.

You can see Saint Philip Howard's actual writings in his cell in London, you can also stand on the spot where saints such as Thomas More and John Fisher were executed.  You can also stand on the spot where the Tyburn Gallows once stood.

Tower Hill, where many martyrs were killed
My interest and love for the 40 martyrs of England and Wales was ignited even more on this spot and I wanted to know all their stories!  The place of Tyburn Gallows is in the middle of traffic now but there is a plaque that marks the spot.  Saint Philip Howard died in the Tower of London but other Martyrs were hanged, drawn and quartered at Tyburn.  The Martyrs Walk ended at Tyburn Convent. where there were many relics of the martyrs.

It was not our intention to produce a DVD on The Martyrs Walk but we were so inspired by the history of these sites in London as well as the spots where the martyrs were executed, plus we had filmed and documented the entire event.  We decided to produce our second DVD 'The Martyrs Walk' sharing this history, these sites, great shots of London including many back streets and secret places, interjected with short biographies of many English Martyrs.

The Martyrs Walk DVD
This DVD is available worldwide on Region Free DVD Format.

The Music:

When I began writing the music score, I had only written 1 full length film score so this was my second score.  I wanted to capture the history and era and drew upon memories of atmospheres from places such as The London Dungeons, spooky sounds and eerie atmospheres created with soundscapes and noisescapes.  

I used early sounds such as Symphonic Choirs and Whispering Angels.  For the Opening Titles I used Pizz. Strings and create a very story like sound to lay the foundation for the film content.  To this date The Martyrs Walk has a very unique atmosphere. 

You can listen to the Opening Titles here:

I particularly love the use of the bell, it takes you straight to the era of the English Martyrs.

Although we started our Catholic Media Apostolate with Saint Philip Howard and wanted to move straight on to Saint Edmund Campion, The Martyrs Walk event in London was such a blessing as it introduced us to all the martyrs including the Blesseds and the Forty Martyrs.  It took us to the places of their deaths and to many historic sites of Catholicism in London.  

It set an amazing foundation for the next 10 years of productions on the English Martyrs and sparked a great zeal in us for our faith and history.  

We have many box sets of English Martyrs Feature Films Available.
As Joanna Bogle said so prophetically "The martyrs sacrificed their lives for us and for our country yet the Forty Martyrs were not canonized until 1970.  It's as if all the graces they obtained were stored up for us until now when we most need them."

Monday 8 October 2018

The 40 Martyrs of England and Wales Films - Music Scores - Catholic Faith & Media

Since October 2007 it has been my privilege to work on several DVD films about the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales as well as creating full original music scores for each production.  It all began 11 years ago this month when Mary's Dowry Productions had its first filming day over in Arundel, West Sussex.

We wanted to incorporate the beautiful scenery of West Sussex as well as the magnificent Arundel Castle and Cathedral into this production.

Filming before Arundel Castle
What made this production great, being our first DVD, was discovering the life of Saint Philip Howard, the Earl of Arundel.  We had lived near Arundel our whole lives and attended the Cathedral for many events but did not know much about Saint Philip Howard.

These first days of filming were interesting, we spent many weeks travelling back and forth to Arundel for different shots and different locations.

Getting to grips with the new equipment
Mary's Dowry Productions had only been established for a few weeks and getting to grips with the new equipment was a learning curve but we went from strength to strength and our production on St. Philip Howard was completed and launched on the 'small screen' (we had not yet gotten our large screen and launch equipment) and we were touched by this English Martyrs' life and witness.

Saint Philip of Arundel DVD
This production was revisited in 2010 with a whole new music score and upgraded footage but both the early version and the new one were met with very positive feedback.

Having always been drawn to ancient sounds like the recorder and frame drum, viola da gamba, fidule and lute, I found that writing a music score for a film set in the Elizabethan era enabled me to use these lovely instrument and create an authentic Elizabethan sound.  I'd not long left college and one valuable lesson I had learned was the creation of my own original unique sound so I applied this concept to the St. Philip Howard film score and made it my own.

After Saint Philip of Arundel was released and making it's way around the world and diocese, 2008 saw us begin a year long project on Saint Edmund Campion, another English Martyr.  

Saint Edmund Campion
Philip Howard was the first English Martyr we had encountered and it led us to discover that there are in fact 40 of them!  For 11 years we have wanted to produce a DVD for each of these great saints.  We are not there yet but many years of work and effort have seen several produced.  We paid particular interest to the martyrs who were completely unknown like Saint Polydore Plasden.  This month I hope to write several blogs on the processes of producing films and writing music scores on several of these martyrs.  My next blog will focus on Saint Edmund Campion and our year long work to produce Saint Edmund Campion: A Hero Returns DVD.

Thursday 4 October 2018

NEW ALBUM in the works 'VALLEYS' Landscapes, Fantasy Art, Stories, Music Composition and Inspiration

I am very pleased to be back working on my upcoming instrumental album VALLEYS.  I've been writing these albums on and off for two decades now!  An awful lot of work goes in to them, they are extremely creative and where I write most freely with great depths of imagination based on titles and pictures.  

When I completed KINGDOMS in 2010 I was excited to have a new addition to this series and I had the idea for VALLEYS in my mind but it was not until 2014 that my schedule enabled me to begin work on it.  

'Kingdoms' Album available on CD
I wrote 3 tracks and managed to arrange and record two of them but then we had such a work load again that VALLEYS got left behind.  The past couple of weeks I have had a bit more time to look at moving this album forward.  I finally took the biggest step of organizing my title tracks and layout, bringing together all the title ideas and choosing a new title for the next track.  

To date I am working on track 6 but track 5 is incomplete, so it's a bit messy, but the tracks so far are gorgeous!  I'm very pleased with them and cannot wait to complete this album.  My favourite track so far is the opening track entitled "Lady of the Valleys" and I love it, it's got a beautiful Xiao Flute leading.  I am currently working on 'Into the Lunar Valleys' so am going for a few more soundscapes like I did in REALMS for this particular track which is going very well so far.

The titles given to me by my sister always provide a foundation for writing and inspiration.  They hold such depth so when I sit to compose, I let my imagination go beyond the words and I picture stories and landscapes behind the title.  Fantasy art also plays a big role in my inspiration because I was first inspired by Lord of the Rings and the cinematic landscapes blended with CGI artwork of ancient statues etc.  So I picture, what once was and my mind is filled with many stories, portrayed through music, that then just flows.

The days go so quickly now but I am in between film scores at the moment so hopefully I can knuckle down and complete 'Into the Lunar Valleys' soon.

For more information visit my CD Page 

Monday 1 October 2018

Saint Mechtilde of Magdeburg, Beguine, Writing the Music Score for this New Film

Last week saw me writing the music for our latest production "Saint Mechtilde of Magdeburg and the Souls in Purgatory".  It's been nearly 2 years since we filmed for this production and we've wanted to get it done because it presents the early Beguines and the Beguine way of life which is very dear to us.  An egret bird landed in our garden pond and we were told that there were many of them nearby in Ferring by the rife so we travelled there to film them in the frost.  Whilst there we spotted in the distance an old ruined barn made of stone and became extremely excited as we had not intended this to be a scouting mission.  

Any mysterious or crumbling backdrop is great for a Mary's Dowry Productions film so we went and checked it out.  

We went back there with props and garbed in the correct Beguine clothing to acquire the footage needed to produce a film on this ancient saint.  We hoped that this would be the first of many individual films on Beguines and hermits.  The rife, ice, running water, rocks, trees, animals and birds made great scenery for the entire film so in just one day we obtained everything we needed.  It was not fun because it was very windy but it was worth it.

We archived the footage because at the time we were also filming for St. Don Bosco and other Salesians and a few others.  It is only now that we have managed to work on this film and I was delighted last week that editing was complete and I was ready to begin writing the music score.

Writing the Music....

When I began writing I did not know what I would do.  I was thinking at the time of our production on St. Julian of Norwich.  This was filmed in an abandoned old church in Bedham and that created it's own atmosphere so I wanted to do something similar here.

For the opening titles for St. Mechtilde of Magdeburg there are some great shots of the ruined barn and I used this for inspiration.  Instead of using Celtia voices like I did for St. Julian of Norwich, I used Mystica because I was thinking of nuns.  Although Beguines are free, Mechtilde did spend some years attached to the nuns at Helfta including St. Gertrude the Great and St. Mechtilde of Hackeborn.  
So I began this score with a mysterious atmosphere using soundscapes and the chanting of nuns.  These opening titles show the fusing of voices with 'Lord of Wind' soundscapes and how I brought in the cello to gradually build the piece:

The opening titles were fairly easy and I pretty much used my usual instruments and kept a building and expectant atmosphere until the film begins at about 1:00.  

Drums, Nykelharpas, Horns, Harps, Stringed Instruments...

When the narrative began I decided that I would keep a general atmosphere of 'ancient'.  I love all things old, rural landscapes, mysterious crumbling ruins, and of course a Beguine living along amongst this.  So I wrote some simple underscore tunes using a Frame Drum beat with the Nykelharpa and Tenor Viola da Gamba leading.  I used a back and forth with an Alto Recorder to keep this going all through the first section on the history of the Beguines.

I tried to keep a mysterious atmosphere throughout and I did not want just endless little tunes going so regularly in this score I used suspended strings with more Mystica Voices and half way through the film included Altus Voices for contrast.  

Sound Effects

There was not much call in this production for the use of sound effects but I was able to put the sound of birds and running water subtly over come of the scenes which aided in a reflective experience.  This production has a lot of good information about the Souls in Purgatory as much of St. Mechtilde's writings pertain to this.

Unlike several other of our productions that mention Purgatory or Hell, I did not use scary soundscapes in these sections in St. Mechtilde.  I learned so much from this production and found myself having to watch it 3 times to absorb the great depths of this saints' profound writings.  I was pleased also at the link to the Sacred Heart, having worked this year on Saint Margaret Mary and Saint Clade de la Colombiere and the Sacred Heart in England films.

Saint Mechtilde is now complete and available through our website and also through Amazon.  It is well worth a look.
Saint Mechtilde of Magdeburg DVD

Bartolo Longo, Format Satanic High Priest, Movie Trailer

This trailer for Bartolo Longo offers an example of the music that I wrote for this film.  As mentioned in my previous post the use of strings and cello captured the era and an atmosphere of suspense.  His story is very gripping.