When the Buying Stops
Please be warned, this film contains distressing footage.
1996. I had graduated from Chichester University with a 2:1 in Music and Related Arts. I cut a CD of 6 pieces of music I had composed, 5 of which were assignments at Uni. The costs of getting 500 created was pretty massive back then and I sent them out to just about every Director I could find in the Director's Guild, each with a covering letter.
I started to get replies. "Dear Clive, thank you for your CD, which we listened to with interest. We do not have any opportunities at the moment but we will keep in on file for the future" and about 50 other variants of the same nature.
I then got a call from Patrick Davenport at the Moving Picture Company. He had seen my CD and he had a project I might be interested in. A chap called Peter Knights had just come back from Asia, where he had been secretly filling the horrendous treatment of animals caught up in the Endangered Animals Trade. There was no budget but it could be a good experience.
Of course I jumped at the chance. There were 5 animals featured (tigers, turtles, elephants, rhinos and bears), each one was a 5 minute short, followed by a hard-hitting message put together by Jo Walter Thompson.
My best man, Cliff, was working in sound design and I asked if he would get involved. The fab Scottish actor John Hannah did the narration, which he did with CLiff, who also did the sound design.
The format to each was simple: introduction to the animal, horrendous footage of their treatment and how their body parts are used for trade, followed with a call to action.
The format was straightforward but the footage was very difficult to watch. As a media composer, I always got my inspiration from what I watched and, in many ways, it was just so fantastical and inspirational to do.
My late brother-in-law Jamie and his pal Adrian Bradley came down to help me do the final music mix before it was sent up to Town for Cliff to use in post-production.
My gear was somewhat basic at the time! I had an Atari 1040ST (although it had a tighter Midi clock than any other computer at the time), a Roland U20 Keyboard and my Akai S2000 Sampler with a whopping 2MB of RAM!
To get semi-decent sounding orchestral sounds, I had bought some CDs with audio samples on them. I had to import them and map each sample out across the range of the keyboard. The S2000 had a tiny screen to work with so it was rather fiddly! I couldn't afford the buy the samples in a native Akai format but that didn't matter. I can still remember the momentous day a few years later when I upgraded to a whopping 32MB of RAM for £500!
I can still remember going to the premier of the film at a cinema in Soho, a very proud moment! This was the film that started everything really. Jackie Chan redubbed it into Chinese and it went global. I was very proud of my role in it.
Of course I thought the work would come rolling in! I had VHS copies of the film made and I sent one to Sir David Attenborough and got a lovely letter back. He described the music as both haunting and moving.
There were some opportunities to write music for celebrity idents. The global reach of the film was estimated at 1 Billion in the end.