Inspiration and references (Part 3: Music)

Welcome to part three of inspirations and references for The Fitzroy. This time around: music.

To be honest, I’ve been putting off writing this blog. Music is so encompassing and expansive that I have no idea where to start.

Maybe with the obvious?

Music is integral to film. It is at least half of the experience. Think of Jaws – for me, the first thing that pops into my mind is the theme tune, then the shark jumping up at Roy Scheider and then the story. The same goes for so many films; Chariots of Fire, the Magnificent Seven, The Third Man, Dambusters, even Gladiator.

Yes, all those films do have brilliant performances, stories and cinematography, but it is the music that lifts them from great to classics. It is the music that binds all the elements together, making them greater then the sum of their parts while also simultaneously capturing the spirit of the film in a theme or melody.

Just because I love it so much, here’s the theme from The Third Man by Anton Karas:

That is what music can do in the grand scheme of things, but it also has many practical roles to play in a film. It can set the pace and mood of a scene, warn or tease the audience, build suspense, create scares and even add subtext to a line of dialogue.

Like all films music is an integral element for The Fitzroy but I want the music in The Fitzroy to be even more. I want it to course through the film like blood pumping through a tiger in the throws of a hunt.

Not only will the film have a conventional score, but there will be a lot of music ‘on screen’. One of the characters is a lounge singer who has her own song and there is also a band in the film that constantly plays music, which seeps through the hotel location and directly affects some of the narrative turning points.

In many ways music is one of the first things I start thinking about when working a story. Long before I begin writing, I will find a couple of soundtracks or make a playlist that fits the mood of what I think I want for the story. I then just listen to it on constant loop while I daydream and make notes.

During the actual writing I will have music constantly playing in the background. This has to be instrumental, as words will just distract. I also like it to be fairly fast paced. This music helps to give the film life and helps me to zone out while writing.

For The Fitzroy I listened to a lot of work by the composer Malcolm Arnold – in particular the soundtracks to St Trinians (originals!) and Hobson’s Choice.

The jaunty, implied clumsiness really appealed to what I thought I was writing.

On a slight side note I also love his English Dances

As the writing progressed however, and the story started to reveal itself, it turned out that the film was more anarchic then I originally guessed. The characters were more then just odd, they were downright crazy. I started listening to much more Eastern European and gypsy swing. It has a real vibrant energy and chaos to it. This shift might well have come from being introduced to the films and music of Emir Kusturica!

Emir Kusturica & The No Smoking Orchestra – Unza Unza Time


By the time I had finished writing the first draft, I was listening to bands like Beirut, Devotchka and Gogol Bordello.

Okay, slight detour:

One of the constant influences on me is musicals.Maybe it’s because I can’t dance, but I have always loved them (I always tune into Elaine Paige on Sundays) .

What I admire about musicals is how they heighten the emotions and drama through songs and set pieces. Songs seem to have a way of really pushing emotional resonance. This is something I want to incorporate into The Fitzroy – not that it’s a musical in any way, I just want to have one set piece that is a song.

‘Suddenly Seymour’ from Little Shop of Horrors is a perfect example of how much emotion can be conveyed through song.

Anyway, back to the overall feel of the film.

So I was thinking gypsy swing for the film – it certainly captures the anarchic feel I am looking for. But then I want The Fitzroy to have a quintessential British feel… whatever that is.

There is such a wide variety of British music in the original playlist I created that I can’t believe I overlooked it – from sea shanties and east end music halls, to Celtic folk. I grew up on the Isle of Man and a ceilidh certainly has that fun joyous chaos.

One of the songs that got a lot of play in the playlist was London Town by Bellowhead

As you can see, that’s quite a lot of influences and I pretty much want all that in the soundtrack. Oh and for it to be unique.

I would be amiss here if I didn’t mention the Green Rock River Band. They are the guys who will be producing the score for The Fitzroy. It was only announced last week and we haven’t had a detailed meeting about the score yet. Hopefully this blog doesn’t come as a scary shock!

Here’s a little taster of what they do. For more, do check out their website.

The great thing is, I really do feel they will capture everything I have been talking about above and bring so much more. I can’t wait to start working with them and see what they come up with.

So that is just some of the influences for the music. It’s going to be fascinating to see how the music for the film progresses and changes.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this three-part references and inspirations blog as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it. I don’t normally analyse what influences me that much, so it has been quite eye opening.

I’ll be dropping more links and influences on twitter as and when. So don’t forget to follow us. @the_fitzroy.

Oh and we now have a newsletter you can sign up to – it’ll have a bit more information and announcements about the film, some special events and some free giveaways. Head over to the website to sign up.

If you missed them, you can check out Part One and Part Two here.

Part One: Visuals

Part Two: Comedy


2 thoughts on “Inspiration and references (Part 3: Music)

  1. Pingback: Speaking the same Language | The Fitzroy (feature film)

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