Scottish musician and film score composer, Patrick Doyle, who has composed scores for such blockbuster films as ‘Planet of the Apes; Rise of the Ape’ and ‘Thor’ is currently working on the score for a new Disney/Pixar animated film called ‘Brave’.
Doyle will be in Belfast attending the Coco Cola Cinemagic International Film and Television Festival this month to give a masterclass in music composition in film to young people but IFTN caught up with him before his visit to ask him about his latest project, his career to date and what inspires him as a composer.
Asked what elements of a story inspire him when writing a film score? Doyle simply points out, “Narrative is key. It is all about the script and the story you are trying to tell.” Doyle is a man who believes in being very hands on and likes to go through a script thoroughly, connect with the characters and their lives before engaging with the director on their musical vision for the piece.
Being a composer for over 20 years Patrick’s experience is varied and wide ranging but admits, “it was never my goal to score films.” Doyle reminiscences about becoming inspired however, by music through the theatre during his teen years, “when I was younger, a theatre company visited my high school and I remember being in awe of how the music connected with what was being performed on stage.”
Doyle continued with music and went on to graduate as a classically trained musician from the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in 1975. However, his break into film scoring he contributes to a good friend, Kenneth Branagn who commissioned Doyle for ‘Henry V’ and his career took off from there. Doyle also has some experience in front of the camera with small cameos in many films including one an upcoming Emma Thompson film called ‘Effie’, and he says it absolutely helps him to get a better appreciation of how music can affect performance.
Technology has come on in leaps and bounds since Doyle started in the industry with the composer recalling that before his hand would be falling off from writing an entire score. But with the advances he says, “to put it crudely, it is like having a nail gun for putting down floorboard and then there is a guy there with a nail and hammer. Everything can be done twenty times faster.”
Speaking about his current project, ‘Brave’ the latest feature animation from Disney/PIXAR, Doyle says, “it has a strong female protagonist, which I like, you don’t see enough of that in animated films.” ‘Brave’ is set in a rugged and mythical Celt time and Doyle feels being a Scot helps him compose the score and says it is better than someone who, as he puts it, “is just brought in from another country.” He believes that his Scottish roots are adding to his understanding of the score for ‘Brave’ saying, “after all, I am a Celt.”
Doyle doesn’t seem to think however that there is a difference between composing for animation as for live action saying, “there is no difference. They still have a narrative and characters. We have such an appreciation for good animation here in Europe.”
The Cinemagic festival runs in Belfast from the 16th of November to the 2nd of December. When asked what his hopes for his masterclass were, Doyle said, “I hope to inspire them to be creative and to have a bit of fun. After all that is what it is all about.”