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29 August 2014
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Make Some Music

Alastair Fothergill Alastair Fothergill

Alastair Fothergill has set a new standard in natural history programme-making with his highly acclaimed series Planet Earth, a stunning exploration of our planet that was four years in the making, and shot in High Definition.

Here he talks about creating music for natural history programmes and the dynamic relationship between himself and George Fenton in this process.


Q1. What is the role of music in natural history filming?

One of the key roles of music is to create emotion. What I want from composers is this: take me back to the wilderness, take me there. Give me that emotion.


Q2. How did the music come together on Planet Earth?

I asked my producers to think early on what is the emotion that, say, deserts have for you.


Q3. How does the music work when editing the film?

As a composer you'll need space to build emotion - you can't do that in 20 seconds. The best relationship between a producer and composer is where they learn from each other.


Q4. Explain the process of mixing the music to match the pictures in the edit.

The pre-mix, a combination of natural sound and narration, is important for any composer.


Q5. How much music should a natural history programme have?

What you're doing with the music in a natural history film is holding the audience's hand.


Q6. One piece of advice you'd give composers?

Be very responsive. Composers can be divas. Film making is a team effort. It is about pictures and music is just one tool.

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