Competing for Westworld – Q&A with Ella Jarman-Pinto
Ella is a critically acclaimed composer and was described by Classic FM as ‘one of the UK’s most exciting music-makers’.
Ella writes for TV and Films, including award-winning short film, AstraZeneca – The Attack, (Havas Lynx, Maker Projects). She was recently commissioned by BBC Radio 3 for Postcards from Composers and has just been brought onboard to score a film with an all-female crew and cast. Her song, This Little Rose, recorded by Nadine Benjamin and Nicole Panizza, was described as ‘one of the most memorable songs on this disc’ by Music-Web International. Ella has had repeat performances of her work by BBC Singers and broadcast by BBC Radio 3, and was Composer in Residence with Streetwise Opera from 2016-17.
“I write the music that people hum. I help Film & TV producers anchor their production in people’s minds by composing stunning theme music to fit their vision.”
Ella, please tell us about who you are, your background in music and composition.
I’m a composer, I’m a mother, I’m a fellow human, and I’m based in the beautiful Lake District in the UK. I was born into a really musical household and have been hooked ever since! I’ve always struggled to read music, however, so creating my own music was the only way I could engage with music. I spent most of my teenage years involved in my mum’s organisation, BlueJam Arts, and then moved on to study Composition at Guildhall School of Music and Drama
How did you get involved in TV and Film?
I actually put a call out on Facebook asking for recommendations of careers that people could do with the skills of a composer. I love teaching, but I have a rule that when I stop enjoying teaching, I take a break. I also wanted to use these skills that I’ve been developing my entire life. And a friend, Ian Dingle from DH&Co, suggested I look into composing for film and TV. He gave me some really good advice and it’s been an exhilarating journey since.
What are your favourite genres of projects to work on or do you enjoy everything?
I have to say, I don’t have a favourite at the moment. I do get shiny object syndrome – I want to try anything and everything! But my main focus, in every job that I have, is to work closely with the director to really get the music that enhances their vision. I love the human connection of creative media, and so that’s how I work.
Your competition piece for Westworld is fantastic. How did you get involved with this?
Listen to the composition here
Thank you so much! I had a great time writing it! It took a couple of weeks of false starts and then the whole thing was written in a day and a half. The competition was a big deal in the composer world – memes went around about how many people were posting their entries. I think 11,000 people in total. Then there was uproar when the winners were announced – I felt quite sorry for the winner actually. He did a great job and there were some sore losers. For me, I got an incredible score that I wrote from my own inspiration attached to some incredible high-quality footage that I can use for my reel. Definitely a win for me.
“Planning my music usually begins with words or scribbles, rudimentary artwork that helps me to visualise how I want the music to be.”
Which projects are you currently working on or have been asked to do that viewers and listeners can look out for?
I’ve also just launched my own podcast, Beyond The Chameleon, which explores Belonging vs Fitting In through conversations with professionals in the creative media industries, and how these can help to increase inclusivity in the industry.
Are you involved in post-production and how important is this for audio mixing for residential broadcast?
I’m not actually. I know there are many composers out there who mix their own music (beyond the actual composition process after handing it over) and this is something I plan for in the future. I’ve spent my life honing my talents writing music, so mixing in on my horizon. It’s really important to me that the end result is amazing. Even someone who doesn’t ‘do music’ (in their own words) will hear if there are issues with mixing and mastering. It’s hugely important. Imagine if you were to paint a beautiful picture and then hang it in a dirty frame – it ruins the whole effect.
Have you recorded, mixed or produced any tracks in Dolby Atmos or plan to in future?
Not yet. The safest way to create a score for me at this moment in time is to create it in stereo. That way I know the baseline for how it will be experienced. And then when it is mixed and mastered, that’s up to how the film wants to be released. But when I’m composing, most of the time I don’t know how the end result will be experienced, so I use stereo. I love the idea of Dolby Atmos. I was lying in my garden the other day with my eyes closed and listening to everything around me, paying particular attention to where each sound was placed, near, far, behind, in front, ahead of me. It was beautiful and I had a real desire to recreate that in my music. One day!
Oh wow! Here goes. Currently flying around my head are:
JoJo and Gran Gran theme tune
Go Jetters (my kids have watched a lot over lockdown!)
Lord of the Rings – Riders of Rohan
Perfume – the vocal music is exquisite
Black Panther – I love how the music is so bold!
Pirates of the Caribbean, Klaus Badelt
Hereditary – I “watched” without watching because I can’t bear scary films, but the music was incredible
Fleabag – Isobel Waller-Bridge’s score is brilliant
Black Klansman – Incredible theme tune
Harry Potter – Got to have a bit of John Williams there
For more info about Ella: http://www.ellajarman-pinto.co.uk/