The Last Bookshop soundtrack, The Bakery and the creative process

April 15, 2013

Last week saw the YouTube publication of a new short film which I wrote the soundtrack for, specifically for Arlet. The film is called The Last Bookshop and is written by Richard Dadd who co-directed it with Dan Fryer. Whilst studying at University of Kent in Canterbury, Richard and Dan joined up with some other uni chums to form The Bakery as a collective outlet for their creative desires.

The BakeryIn their own words, The Bakery is:

“A group of friends who spend our spare time doing creative stuff. Don’t expect the usual boring portfolio of pretentious art-films, tedious small business clients, bland web design and general media wank. We only do fun stuff. And we’re not in it for money…although some would be nice.

Our portfolio is for anything and everything that some (or all) of us get up to after office hours. We’ve won a few awards and competitions, we occasionally get nice things said about us in the post office queue, but we mainly do it for the fun of it.” In their website you will find a fairly unique portfolio of finished projects including:

short films

a play

podcasts for Canterbury’s Gulbenkian Theatre

a satirical website and promotional video for University of Kent

a series of comedy sketches encouraging students to seek a year in industry

‘Konkers’ – a whimsical radio comedy satire about student life in Canterbury

‘an MTV style mockumentary sketch about an Oxbridge rapper on the urban scene’

an award-winning Doritos advert

and lots more…

Since they started work on it in 2011, The Last Bookshop has become The Bakery’s biggest undertaking yet:

“The Last Bookshop is a 20-minute short, which imagines a future where physical books have died out.

One day, when a small boy’s holographic entertainment fails, he heads out to explore the streets of abandoned old shop fronts outside. Down a forgotten alley he discovers the last ever bookshop. And inside, an ancient shopkeeper has been waiting over 25 years for a customer…”

Apart from a little piano piece for Bakery member Alaric King’s university project, The Chair, I’d never written any film music before. In fact I hadn’t really written any music at all for years besides some brass parts for Zoo For You, so it was all a fairly vicious learning curve! Having tinkered with various things for about 6 months, pretty much all the ‘doing’ of the project came once I had a rough cut to the film with a 3 week deadline. Then everything become a chaotic blur of full time office work before coming home in the evenings for a nice cup of tea before my daily 4 hours in front of the piano head butting the keyboard until something suitable emerged. It is a compositional technique I seek to refine, and at the time I did often feel a bit like this:

monkey with a typewriter

This is the problem when you spend too much time listening to and not enough time creating music. It gets to a point of creative paralysis, in which your own musical snobbery blocks every effort as being woefully derivative of ‘x’ or a rather pathetic rehash of ‘y’. Especially if your compositional ‘technique’ is pretty rusty and you’re not in the routine of getting stuff down and handing round parts, you start to feel pretty constipated by the whole process. After grinding something out for hours which you think is actually a load of bollocks, it’s especially demoralising when someone like Aidan waltzes through the front door with a new fully-formed 4 minute piece for Arlet which is invariably good < flipping awesome that he wrote that morning between walking the dog and lunch. The strange thing is that now the dust has settled a little in the year long gap between the film being finished and appearing online, I’m really pretty happy with it all. The music is not very original, but it really doesn’t matter, and it’s kind of missing the point to think in such a negatively critical way.

So a massive thank you to Richard and Dan for all their encouragement and the opportunity. Thank you also to Arlet for being so enthusiastic and recording it all with almost no rehearsing. Hats off to Barney Pidgeon for engineering that magical recording day in his rustic barn of musical wonders. Richard wrote a really nice blog about the momentous day of recording and realisation on the film blog. The film has now had just over 900 plays in 5 days which is extremely exciting. Although Dan and Richard were unsuccessful with the film festival applications last year, they’re still looking into other outlets for the film to reach the audience that all the hard work deserves. In the meantime, here it is: