Simon Webb


This article was written on 16 Feb 2015, and is filled under Film, Music.

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Composing for film: Mark Murphy’s new thriller – Awaiting

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A very rewarding recent film commission was to write the score for the new British thriller Awaiting, directed by Mark Murphy for Green Screen Productions, and starring Tony Curran, Diane Vickers, and Rupert Hill.

The film received its world premiere on March 1st at the Fantasporto Film Festival, in Porto, Portugal.

It has just won Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actor (Tony Curran) at the Horrorant film festival in Athens.

After several months of consultation and pre-production composition, (Mark likes to work closely with the composer right from the script stage), and having visited the set a couple of times, the score was composed over a short period during the summer of 2014, in my studio in Suffolk. The initial concept (budget-driven) was for a computer score with a small group of instrumentalists, so this is how I started: Very much in the same sonic vein as Mark’s previous film The Crypt, which I had scored in 2013.

The film is a psychological thriller with horror elements, and Mark had very strong ideas on what he did and didn’t want from the music. As it transpired he decided he didn’t want horror music, or anything that told the audience how to feel at any given moment. What he did want was a slow burn, epic and emotional score that would help drive the arc of the story: A string and choir based score.

So, after much deliberation, and great assistance from line producer Paddy Robinson-Griffin, we decided to change tack and use a real orchestra. Somehow Mark and producer Alan Latham found the budget, and I set to work on this new version of the score, relishing the challenge. It was now all about parts for the musicians, and lots of them, not wav files! And there wasn’t a great deal of time left.

Working with orchestrator and conductor Adam Clemens in Prague, in ten days and 40 cues, we put together the musicians parts: a large box full!

The final pre-production stage was to prepare click tracks with basic keyboard and guitar sonics parts. Guitarist Jay Stapley came into the studio in London and played his electric guitar in a very unusual manner, producing extraordinary sounds that I planned to combine with the orchestra.

Awaiting Score

Jay Stapley on lap guitar (with towel mute!)

Next we headed off to Prague to record with the Prague Filmharmonic: a large orchestra and choir. It was a very good experience, the orchestra was very obliging, we overdubbed the strings, and we achieved the epic sound that Mark was looking for. On a number of the cues there was the equivalent of 201 musicians playing!

We then brought the score back to the UK for post-production and mixing by Ian Tompson at Humber Road Studios in Blackheath.

Finally we completed the process with an initial pre-dub in Romania, and then further work at sound designer Nico Metten’s studio in Brixton, and completion at The University of York, Department of Theatre, Film and Television, where they have a state of the art dubbing theatre.

Here’s the trailer with one of the big orchestral cues, and assorted photos of the sessions.

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Ian Tompson, Simon Webb, and Adam Clemens confer during the recording of the score.

Simon Webb Composer

The Prague Orchestra creating a really dark sound.

Simon Webb Composer

Eyes down on a new cue. (Simon Webb Composer)

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The choir holds a long chord!

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The front row of the engine room.

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2 conductors and a composer

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Poster for the premiere

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Behind you!! Jake (Rupert Hill) makes a bid to escape. It’s not going to end well!

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Diana Vickers plays Lauren. There’s more to her than meets the eye.

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Morris, played by Tony Curran, is a terrifying character.

When it rains it pours in Awaiting!

When it rains it pours in Awaiting! Hong Manley was Director of Photography.

Simon Webb composer

Lauren (Diana Vickers) discovers what’s been hidden in the dark © 2014 Solar Productions Ltd

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