Tuesday 23 July 2019

Saint Frideswide of Oxford - Writing the Music to the Film

This Summer saw Mary's Dowry Productions complete St. Francis de Sales: The Devout Life film after 15 months of delays.  Having completed the music score for this film after much duress because of a failed motherboard and processor, I now have a new setup which I have also taken the additional step to update so all my software is the latest.  I can also try my hand at PLAY - which uses Storm Drums, Gypsy and Voices of Passion, all of which I have avoided using because of using too much memory in the computer.  

PLAY software
As you can see each program is quite big so I have not used them for a few years for fear of my music PC crashing whilst I am writing.  With the new setup and faster computer I believe I can draw upon them now.  

St. Frideswide of Oxford

Rather than moving straight on to "St. Alban Roe" production which we filmed for back in 2018, we decided that we needed a fresh infusion of something completely new.  A poppy field had opened up nearby us and we heard about it so set out to find it.  It was beautiful!  It went right up over the hills into the distance and you could see it from miles away. 

 I had wanted to incorporate a poppy field for years in our films but the only one was near Brighton with no parking access.  

So we set off to Sompting Village and spent a few hours filming the poppies and meadows for scenery shots.  The next day we decided to go back with a costume and get everything we needed for a brand new film on St. Frideswide.  We had delayed this production for about 6 years after being given a little prayer card of this saint and finding she was the patron of Oxford.  

I was excited about this film as it was and English saint.  Musicwise this gives me an opportunity to use old English instruments.  We really pushed ourselves to complete this production from beginning to end so as to have something completely new this summer and it wasn't long before I was handed the video to begin the music score.

I actually began this score with a  bit of trepidation as it was the first score on my new PC setup.  I did not know what I intended to do but I set up a new template and literally hit record to improvise.  I decided that I would try to use instruments I had not used before and loaded in a nice harmonica.  I used the soundscape Goddess of Love and led with Xiao flute which I really like.  After the first sequence led by Xiao flute I led with tenor viola da gamba, one of my favourites, and doubled this with a very high pitched flute.  Once I had written and recorded the lead instruments I looked for something to add a sparkle to the opening titles and found a nice mallet patch which worked very lovely.  Here are the opening titles to give a sense of the mood of this film.

Throughout the film I added in French Horns for segments which cover much of the historical context and I used pizzicato strings gaining in tempo as the prince pursues St. Frideswide to make her his wife, it very much reminded me of our film on St. Etheldreda when she was pursued in a similar way.  All in all the music took me about 3 days to complete and was not as easy as I thought.  There is a lot going on in this film, lots of different moods and history.  

There is a segment at the end exploring the history of St. Frideswide's shrine after her death including the destruction during the reign of King Henry VIII.  It was shocking how her bones were deliberately mixed with those of an ex-nun and remain so to this day.  I had fun writing quite menacing music during this segment.  

The film ties up nicely with devotion to St. Frideswide today so I was able to end on a high note and then return to my opening titles for the end credits.  One thing I did do throughout this production was glissando harp.  St. Frideswide was famous for plying her harp and we filmed her doing this so at points in the score I emphasize this.  This is the first time I had used the glissando harp patch from Celtic Instruments.  

St. Frideswide played her harp so I emphasized glissando harp in the score.
I did not use many SFX in this particular film score but there are some horses galloping when the saint is pursued and battle sounds over some battle pictures which is always so effective.  I found that my new PC setup, although incredibly advanced, still spiked and crashed so I have come to the conclusion the problem is the software itself.  Cubase may need a bit of tweaking so I am going to explore ways to save CPU for when I go to write the next music score.  It feels a lot more solid though and I have been assured that I can't lose anything so long as I keep saving my projects which I do obsessively.  St. Frideswide of Oxford is now available on DVD worldwide through our online shop.  

Saint Frideswide of Oxford DVD

Please head on over a grab a copy and support the work of Mary's Dowry Productions.

Thursday 18 July 2019

Saint Francis de Sales NEW film on DVD - Writing the Music

We filmed for a beautiful film on St. Francis de Sales in March 2018.  It came about because a friend of ours is the image of this saint and after a while we asked if he would be willing to portray for us and he said yes!  It was very exciting and after a long time coming we managed to capture various scenes of St. Francis de Sales' life on film.

Above shows our friend portraying St. Francis de Sales and below St. Francis de Sales and St. Jane de Chantal who also features in this film.

Unfortunately, on the same day we filmed for St. Gemma Galgani, Our Lady and the Visionaries of Knock and St. Alban Roe.  We managed to quickly produce the first two films and also have two film launches at the barn next to our parish church, both of which were well attended.  I fell in love with our film on Our Lady of Knock, having visited Knock when I was about 14 but never fully being able to grasp the full story.  Our film shows the whole story as well as the surrounding context in which it happened.  Both of these films left us feeling exhausted and we were unable to produce more and there were several other delays pushing St. Francis de Sales for 15 months!

Our Lady of Knock DVD
Earlier this year we decided that we would really put our minds to it and complete this film.  What was needed was fresh scenery which plays a vital role in our films so we went out twice to Patching Woods nearby us and got some lovely panoramic shots of woodlands, trees, nature.  We went out again to Clapham Woods and filmed some beautiful bluebells, pathways.  

Having everything we needed we were able to edit the film together after recording the narration.  Finally the film was complete and ready for the music score.  I felt a little rusty as I had had quite a break from writing but I dove right in and spent a week writing the score.  At the time we were watching UNBREAKABLE with Bruce Willis.  I do not listen to music very much at all but we research media and have areas of film that we enjoy.  I am very much influenced by film scores which is why Mary's Dowry Productions films have an "Epic" atmosphere as the score I write for them can be cinematic, emotional and moving.  

In the film there are a lot of strings leading and piano. The overall mood is intense, emotional and really captures the growth and journey of the character.  I was aware that the background mood of this film, moving and emotional influenced my writing of the score for St. Francis de Sales and there are some moving segments, particularly with St. Jane de Chantal's own journey and their last conversation together.  I was very pleased with the score at this part of the film.

In my previous post I said that just when I completed the score my computer died, I had not backed up the score after 18 minutes of music so was traumatized for the whole weekend.  Fortunately the guy in the shop managed to find all my music and back it up, the hard drive had not failed but I had to re-load everything once again in order to mix down the final score and complete the film - MORE DELAYS!.

Eventually after 2 more weeks of delays the film was complete and we released it on DVD.  It is now available worldwide from our online shop and I hope it is shared with many people, it's a very moving and informative film with many important aspects of the spiritual life said by both saints.

Saint Francis de Sales is available at www.marysdowryproductions.org

I'd like to share the opening titles, the instruments I used & also some of the new scenery we captured in the little video of the opening titles:

Wednesday 17 July 2019

Saint Francis de Sales

I've been out of action for a while.  I had not had any music projects and then we put our minds to it and finally completed our film on Saint Francis de Sales.  I spent a week writing the music score and when I had finally completed it, I went to add some sound effects and the entire music PC crashed.  It turned out the motherboard and processor had died so I had to have a big fix and also took the opportunity for an upgrade.  It then took a long time to re-load all my software onto the new PC in order to get all the way back to the point of being able to open up the project in order to finish it!  That said, it all came together very well and was able to complete the music score for our new 2019 production on Saint Francis de Sales.  I will write in more depth about what this scored entailed in a further blog post.

The DVD is now released and is available at www.marysdowryproductions.org