The London Symphony Journals. #1.


A couple of weeks ago I wrote of Alex Barrett’s crowd funding campaign in aid of his new film, the silent celebration of the city, London Symphony. I’ve invited Alex to use Hope Lies at 24 Frames Per Second as a platform to broadcast his thoughts as the project moves along. The Kickstarter campaign is still ongoing, and going very well, with more information on that available here. Alex has provided a couple of new stills from the film too, which can be found at the foot of this first diary entry.

Earlier this month I launched a crowdfunding campaign for my new film, London Symphony, a feature length city symphony looking at the culture and diversity of London. It’s my first attempt at crowdfunding. I’m not sure if I believe, like some people, that crowdfunding is ‘the future’, but I feel it makes sense for what my team and I want to achieve with London Symphony — as the film is centred upon the community of London, we want to build a community around the film too. London means many things to many people, and we want to involve people in what we’re doing. For my debut feature, Life Just Is, I put a lot time into putting out behind-the-scenes material during the making of the film, and I want to take this even further with London Symphony, making it a truly open and interactive experience — and crowdfunding offers a natural platform from which to do this.

How it’ll all work out remains to be seen, but right now I’m feeling good about it. The response to the campaign and the film has been fantastic, and I’m genuinely enjoying talking with new people every day about the film.

As the director and driving force of London Symphony, I’ve naturally become the mouthpiece for the film, and I’ve written and spoken about the film at length in a number of places. So for this, the first in a series of pieces I’ll be contributing to Hope Lies at 24 Frames Per Second, I thought it might be interesting to have my writer, Rahim Moledina, comment upon why he’s involved with London Symphony, and the reasons why he thinks we should be making this film:

People sometimes ask me, “Do you like living in London?” I always find it to be a strange question. Don’t most people form some kind of an attachment to the place where they’ve grown up (even if it’s a negative one)? I was born in Barking, raised in Kings Cross, and have spent the last few years in West London. I don’t feel like I live in London, I feel London lives in me. Will I ever leave London? Maybe. Will it ever leave me? Never. The city symphony films of the 1920’s were about capturing a sense of a city, one full of distinctive landmarks, diverse cultures, grand architecture and people’s behaviour. I want to make London Symphony because this city deserves a film where all can be celebrated about it, portrayed in a style that captured Berlin, Paris and Russia so vibrantly and excitingly, all those years ago. Imagine if all worldwide cities had a symphony, don’t they all deserve one?

Rahim and I have worked together on a number of projects, dating back to around 2004. Most relevant to London Symphony is a short film that we made together in 2008, which now serves as a pilot of sorts of London Symphony. The short film, Hungerford: Symphony of a London Bridge, is something of a cross between a cinepoem and a mini-city symphony, and although the scope of the film is much smaller than that of London Symphony, hopefully it gives a good flavour of what the feature might become. Our other collaborators from that short, cinematographer Peter Harmer and composer James McWilliam, will also be working on London Symphony.

Of course, as hinted at by the title of our film, and the name of the genre to which it belongs, music will be an important part of the project, and James will be writing a whole new symphony for the film. So I thought I’d ask him for a quote too!

London Symphony presents an exciting opportunity in bringing together two of my greatest passions, music & film. It will do this in a way that ensures neither medium is compromised and the music, unlike many of today’s mainstream soundtracks, will play a significant role in the film. Knowing that the music will be upfront where there is nowhere to hide is quite a daunting prospect for any composer used to ducking and diving behind sound fx, dialogue and visuals of every size, shape and colour. This is a chance for me to write a score that will have no constraints, a score that won’t fall into the contemporary aesthetic of the film score, where it’s often believed that a soundtrack is deemed a success if the audience doesn’t actually notice it. If the audience doesn’t notice this score then something has gone very wrong!

You can watch Hungerford Symphony: of a London Bridge on our crowdfunding page, where you can also find a lot more information about the film, and about the rewards that we have on offer. As I said above, the campaign is going really well so far — but we do still have a really long way to go! So please help if you can. Whether it’s by pledging directly or spreading the word, it really does make a difference.

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