27 May 2024 The Irish Film & Television Network

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IFTA Q&A Series: Aza Hand on Composing
05 Apr 2024 : Luke Shanahan
Aza Hand
To mark the 21st anniversary of the IFTA awards, we are showcasing Irish talent who are blazing a trail across our industry, working in front of and behind the camera.

Hosted in association with IFTA, this Q&A Series connects with Irish talent who represent a range of disciplines across our industry.

We find out about their approach to craft, working on the projects they’ve been nominated for, and the best piece of advice they’ve been given in their career.

In 2021, Hand became the first person to ever be nominated in both the Best Sound and Best Original Music categories at the IFTAs. This year, he is nominated for two IFTA awards for Lies We Tell, once again in the Best Original Music and Best Sound categories. He has won two IFTAs for Best Sound (The Sparrow, The Writing in the Sky), and one for Best Original Music (Son). His most recent credits include mixing sound on Kneecap, and sound design for upcoming Lorcan Finnegan feature The Surfer, starring Nicolas Cage.

IFTN: At what point did you become involved in this project?

AZA: “I became involved at the script stage. Lisa Mulcahy approached me as we had worked together before a couple of times. Lisa wanted something different for the film's music that would perhaps be more contemporary or unusual for a period piece.”

IFTN: How did you approach the score in regards to aiding the film’s storytelling?

AZA: “The storytelling was everything in the approach to creating the music . We wanted it to be grand and beautiful, delicate and poignant. The piano and strings can convey these things amazingly well.”

“The melody should be melancholic but at times defiant and uplifting, heartbreaking and redemptive, trying always to closely follow Maud’s journey. So the challenge was always how to weave in and out of these range of feelings she experiences in the story.”

IFTN: What element of this score are you most proud of?

AZA: “I’m very proud of the melody and the sound, it became much more than I ever expected it to be and still listen to it for some upliftment from time to time. Will Slattery, an extremely talented songwriter, also contributed a song and played mandolin on the score and Audrey Trainor played strings for us who is an incredible musician.”

IFTN: How did you first get into composing professionally, and what have you learned through your experiences that would be of use to aspiring composers?

AZA: “I first got into composing professionally when Ivan Kavanagh asked me to score Never Grow Old, a western starring John Cusack. That was an incredible creative experience and I went on to score his next film, a horror called Son. We still work together and will hopefully be working on another horror soon!”

“I have learned to really try to listen to your collaborators and make it a positive experience for everyone.”

IFTN: Is there one thing about your craft that you would like the public to be more aware of?

AZA: “I think the public could be more aware of the huge value and creative impact that music and sound can bring to support the storytelling.”

IFTN: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given in your career?

AZA: “Sounds good is good! Positive vibration!”

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