24 Nov 2017

TOM MCLEOD: Cut to Music

From Resound, 9:05 pm on 24 November 2017

New Zealand SO/Luke Dollmann. Recorded by RNZ Concert, 1 September 2010.

Tom McLeod

Tom McLeod Photo: Tom McLeod/Duo Photography

Tom McLeod’s musical background spans many worlds, bringing a diverse range of influences to his work in film and television, theatre and orchestral projects. In 2015 he won the “APRA Best Original Music in a series" award at the APRA Silver Scrolls for his score for the TV show Girl vs Boy. He has collaborated with a wide range of artists, including The Phoenix Foundation, Tim Beveridge, and the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra.

About A Hero’s Tale, Tom says, ‘the piece was commissioned by the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra for a new kind of short film film competition they were running at the time - one in which the composer gets to write the music first, and everything else follows. When I was asked to create a score for a new kind of film competition – one in which the composer gets to play a pre-emptive role in the creation of the film – I drooled over the limitless possibilities. No story to contend with, no action to hit, no structure to abide by, and a brief as broad as “Pixar meets a light comedy Ben Stiller film” – no problem!

Some considerable hours later, there I was staring at the blank page. Should it be a light-handed romantic comedy or an over-the- top farcical comedy of errors? Was it Meet the Parents or A Night at the Museum? Was it Finding Nemo or Ratatouille? Well, maybe I could just cover them all. In six minutes. Soaring. Epic. No problem!

But really, who can afford to make expensive, epic short films? Surely the score would need to accommodate a more personal, intimate, quirky or simple story? Hmmm. More blank pages. If only I knew what was going to happen, when, where, and to whom. And then it hit me like a John Williams symphonic stab... I could create a six-minute story of my own! I could invent some characters, some action, and most importantly – I would know what kind of film I was writing. Brilliant! Several hundred attempts later, I realised why they actually have writers. I decided I had to keep it simple. How about we just make it a tale about a hero? A romantic, quirky, intimate, slightly fantastical, epic, farcical comedic kind of hero... film. Six minutes long. No problem…’

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