lifting clouds (2017)
 short film, drama, medea films 
 dir: stella dimadis 

“When the clouds won’t lift you, you have to force them yourself.”  The film explores three generations of women, and how they each deal with the grandmother's ailing health and consequent Euthanasia.

I joined the team at the post-production stage, well through the editing process.  I met Stella for coffee and discussed what she was trying to say with the film.  I watched the current cut, the emotional flavour and magnitude reminding me of Darren Aronofsky’s “The Fountain” which features an amazing score by Clint Mansell with the Kronos Quartet and Mogwai.   This stimulated many musical ideas.



real/normal world, early 21st Century
        - real (traditional) instruments
        - synths used sparingly for blending (common C21st practice)
        - synths and sound FX for moments addressing character’s inner turmoil

strong connection with audience
        - goal: to be instantly recognised as “emotional” music
        - personal: the documented event is very personal to those involved, so big, dynamic, romantic textures would be overbearing
        - piano: “on trend” at time of composition as typically emotional
        - strings: long drones, dark timbres and lush textures encourage meditative listening

music should add to story, but not dominate
        - pleasant and unobtrusive: regular, predictable rhythms; gently flowing melodic contour
        - melody relatively simple compared to accompaniment (eg. Beethoven’s “Moonlight” Sonata Op. 27, No. 2, 1st Movement)



sadness of death and loss, with brightness of love and acceptance
        - Dorian mode (minor 3rd and 7th, major 6th; minor i chord, major IV chord)
        - harmonic ostinato: i, IV (eg. Gary Jules’ cover of “Mad World”)

    material: theme
        - sparse melody gives a certain “lightness” (eg. Erik Satie’s “Gymnopedie No. 1”)

inner conflict: prolonging the suffering of another to avoid losing them
        - reasonably thin: this is constraining emotion, not one that promotes violent action
        - synths and sound FX: this is the only emotional state where the character is unwilling to share their feelings.  Feelings that remain internal always seem somehow unreal, so non-real instruments are perfect
        - harsh, alienating sounds: feelings arise from deep fear and cannot be controlled

        - slow tempo: the event is impeding and unavoidable
        - regular: heartbeat; natural cycle of life; immensity and inertia
        - long attack and release (crescendo and decrescendo) on the strings gives a strong feeling of anticipation as these are familiar musical shapes
        - repeated piano note has a “counting down” feeling (eg. “Dreamfall: Chapters” by Simon Poole at 1:40:07)


There wasn’t really much more to the process than that.  I wrote a trial piece to explore some ideas (which became the beginning, end and some of the inner binding material), expanded out to a full score once I had the picture-lock cut, and then made some minor adjustments and readjustments.  It certainly helped that Stella and I communicated well with each other right from the start, and she also put a lot of faith in me once she had seen I was on the same wavelength.