It’s hard to overstate the impact a strong piece of music can have in a film.
The right music provides an audience with a guide to help navigate the emotional complexities of a story.
The repetition, combination and variation of particular melodies and instruments help link the various themes and characters together, and highlight their development.
While much of this is experienced subconsciously, the music must be designed as carefully as any other element of the film.
When it came to musicians, there have been times over the past few years I’ve almost felt as though ‘The Human, Earth Project’ was cursed.
Mike Taylor, a good friend of many years and the first musician involved with the Project, died tragically in September 2014.
You will have heard Mike’s composition, ‘SweetSorrow’, on many of our videos, including the ‘Sisters For Sale’ trailer.
Chris Tenz, who was to compose original music for ‘Sisters For Sale’, passed away in February 2016.
Chris’ music has also appeared in our videos, and his first two albums were made available through our 2016 fundraising campaign.
The next musician who committed to scoring ‘Sisters For Sale’ – a very talented Australian composer – disappeared without explanation, at a crucial time as the film neared completion.
He’s still alive, and I believe he’s fine. I still don’t know the full story, and have never heard any of the music he composed for the film.
And so, with the rest of the film completed on schedule, ‘Sisters For Sale’ remained without music.
My uncle, Geoffrey Hindmarsh, is a very talented pianist who filled our family gatherings with music since I was a child.
As Geoffrey had influenced my own knowledge and understanding of both music and film more than anyone, I felt it would be very fitting to feature some of Geoffrey’s music in the film.
Geoffrey composed a beautiful track for ‘Sisters For Sale’ – but it became logistically complicated, at a time when I was already overwhelmed with finishing the film, and unfortunately didn’t work out.
Other musicians – including Joey Chang (AKA Cello Joe), Konstantin Jagoulis (AKA Kosma Solarius), and Rami Shaafi – have had their work featured in our previous videos, and had graciously offered it for use in ‘Sisters For Sale’.
While pieces of Konstantin and Rami’s work are to appear in the finished film, I was convinced that it would be better to have a customised score from beginning to end, rather than use a blend of pre-recorded tracks.
But who was to score the documentary?
Although he has never recorded or released his work, my brother Will Randall is a skilled composer.
With a doctorate in music psychology, his understanding of the relationship between music and emotion make him very well-suited to scoring a film.
Johanna Wilson is a lifelong musician, who plays both piano and violin.
Joh received her Bachelor of Music in her native Canada and is currently undertaking her Master’s in Music, Mind and Technology in Finland.
For the past several months, Will and Joh have been working together to score ‘Sisters For Sale’.
As a filmmaker, this is the first time I’ve been involved in having a film scored. I felt somewhat nervous handing my baby over, not knowing how Will and Joh might dress it up.
Last December, I received my first clue – just a snippet, less than a minute of music set to one of the early sequences of the film.
After having painstakingly constructed and reviewed that sequence a thousand times, it’s hard to explain how it felt to watch it at last with music.
It was perfect – better than I could have imagined. It gave me chills.
I felt as though my baby was suddenly growing up, as though the Pinocchio I’d cobbled together was at last transforming into a real boy.
I’ve since heard other fragments which will form part of the completed score, and have been impressed with them all.
Will and Joh are taking the same approach I took with the film itself – working meticulously to make it as powerful as it can possibly be.
Will and Joh will be assisted by two other Australian musicians – pianist Paul Byrnes, and violinist Lucy Rash.
It’s a big job, and a time-consuming process, but I have full confidence in their work, and am very excited to hear how it all comes together – stay tuned!
In the meantime, my attention is focused elsewhere: on the forthcoming ‘Sisters For Sale’ book and podcast, plus the promotion, distribution, and various translations of the documentary.
I want to thank Melissa Adams, Katie Carriero and Astrid Hofer for their ongoing social media magic – you’re amazing!
Last week I revealed a new ‘Sisters For Sale’ poster design, and promised to send the first ever print to whoever could tell me what it means!
Earlier this week I shared the poster on image-sharing platform Imgur, where it has been seen by 140,000 people – and counting!
It’s been fascinating to read so many diverse interpretations of such a seemingly simple design. Send your entry to email@example.com before the end of the month to win the print!