G. Mitchell was interviewed by John Mansell and
this interview was shared by John to the now defunct
Brit Scores mailing list and he
granted me permission to post it here. Thanks John!
Please note that there is a book in progress with this and many
other interviews. When there is any information on the release
of this book I will place it here. Enjoy!
to the Composer
1] Your latest score is for
TO KILL A KING, the production was I
understand a troubled one, did this effect your working schedule at all.
I met Mike Barker (director) when he directed The Tenant Of Wildfell Hall an Ann Bronte BBC period drama starring Rupert Graves and Tara Fitzgerald and a week or two before shooting commenced on To Kill A King, Mike called to ask if I'd be interested in putting some ideas together on spec whilst they were away on location and sent me a script. There were then indeed the famous money problems as the production attempted to enter the Guiness Book of Records for going bankrupt not once but twice! In the knowledge that I had already spent a great deal of time on a feature film that would possibly not make it to post production, there were actually some positive aspects to the breaks during the shooting schedule , namely that it meant I could spend some time with Mike discussing the creative aspects of the films development at a time when the composer would usually not have much access to the director.
I also used some of the "extra time" experimenting with some of the choral, string arrangement and percussion ideas using the computers in my workspace which is a ProTools studio fully kitted out with Dolby 5.1 etc.
2] How much research did you carry out into the music from the period in which the film is set.
I did a lot of research looking for information about the specific styles of unison Psalm singing which I knew Cromwell and his supporters were well documented to have. For example the film opens with the aftermath of the Battle of Naseby and I used the actual text of the Psalms that were actually sung on the way back from that battle as a libretto for the opening to my score. Although I later decided on a perhaps more radical approach, the research definitely gave me the opportunity to get a feel for the period. I also researched other English Puritan music of the 1640s. Initially Mike and I thought about using a choral score perhaps reinterpreting Puritan music or Scottish Presbyterian Church Music and the like.
I also found that Cromwell's troops had burnt many church organs in the name of their cause and he expounded to his followers that any music with harmony or counterpoint was florid, - a kind of "back to basics" ethos. However all sorts of interesting contradictions came to light. Cromwell's favourite composer was in fact Richard Dering who actually wrote Latin Motets - absolutely full of "florid harmony". The idea of possibly turning the concept on its head and reinventing a movie about Cromwell for a new generation suddenly excited me. I live in Somerset & Wells Cathedral Choir have a great reputation for being wonderful exponents of early music.
John Mansell © 2003/2004