Today, we highlight Paul Francis, whose recent work includes ‘Bunnicula’.
When did you discover that you wanted to pursue film music?
In a way I always new but it wasn’t till I was around fifteen years old it really hit me. My father was an orchestrator back in the UK and used to work with film composer John Murphy ( 28 Days Later/Kick Ass). He used to take me along to the studio in Liverpool, so I spent a lot of time hanging around and watching the hole process take place.That process included a lot of stress, late nights and tight deadlines but the creative pay off is what seemed to have made it all worth it. John and David Hughes (his co writer at the time) encouraged me and advised me on what samples and software to use. A few years later, David gave me a call and asked if I would be interested in working with him on a Terry Pratchett adaptation for Sky TV in the UK called the ‘Hogfather’. Obviously I jumped on board as quickly as possible, haha. It ended up breaking a few records in terms of rating figures, so we ended up scoring the sequel later that year,’The Color of Magic’ with Jeremy Irons, Sean Astin and Cristopher Lee.
What are your biggest non-musical influences?
Well, I love traveling. We moved about quite a bit when I was a kid. My parents ran a Big Band, ‘The memphis Belle Swing Orchestra’ so we spent a lot of time on the road which was quite interesting when I think about it. It certainly gave me an appreciation for other cultures. I am always inspired by visuals and atmosphere , weather that be a physical place or imagery.
What makes your sound unique?
That number one question. Well, I grew up in the 80’s which was an amazing period for film in general. At the time I didn’t realize it but it was always the films score that would stick with me and John Williams, Alan Silvestri was pretty much on every big blockbuster back then that I was fixated with. I would never compare myself to these two greats, but they was absolutely my two biggest influences. When I was in my teens, my Dad wanted me to play piano in his Big Band (mainly because booking piano players was a nightmare for him), He told me I have to learn at least some music theory and I can’t just carry on playing by ear. It was around that time I started becoming interested in Jazz harmonization. It was on the film ‘The Seasoning House’ that I really began to find my style. I used a lot of warm and moody brass, edgy strings coupled with intense Drums/Distorted Guitars. The score got a lot of interest from horror enthusiasts. I am starting my 3rd horror film later this year which I am looking forward too. It seems that the industry likes to brand composers for being known for a certain style. I started out scoring for productions that where Adventure/Fantasy based before moving into the Horror genre. Thats why it has been nice working on ‘Bunnicula’ this year. I’ve re-discovered the Magical/Adventure style that I stared out doing.
Who is your favorite fictional character and how did they influence your music?
Indiana Jones. Exciting, Adventurous. Plus – he doesn’t have a bad theme tune!
What do you do to get away from it all? What do you like doing outside of the studio?
Again, I love exploring. Going for long drives and getting lost in hopes of discovering and hidden cafe somewhere. Apart from that I am lucky enough to do what I love for a living. Sometimes when it is an intense workload you think of how nice it must be to get away for a few days, but the reality is that whenever I get away i can’t wait to get back to work again. The biggest stress in this industry is the fear of letting somebody down, if you can keep everyone happy then everything else is just a pleasure.