Musician and film composer Grace Hancock is as at home with gritty, sci fi as she is with the Lion King, or a snappy jingle. We caught up with her to find out how she goes about making an ideal movie score
D&CFilm: What do you look for in a film to inspire the score?
Grace Hancock: Something I haven’t tried before is always exciting. I’m enjoying the gritty, action packed themes in the horror sci fi I’m working on now. Less about being pretty and more about being disturbing and creepy! Great fun.
D&CFilm: One of your latest films is The Prisoner’s Dilemma – what can you tell us about your score and how it works with the film?
Grace Hancock: So far, the score has touched on a couple of the prevailing themes such as loneliness and suspense. I wanted the music to sound and feel like it is in a void – a warped piece of space. I have aimed for a sense of awe at times for the vastness of space and a sense of gritty terror as Adam – the lead character – experiences monotonous isolation and then a dawning sense of panic and fear.
D&CFilm: The music can be key to the tone and emotional connection of a movie – how do you work with directors to ensure that the case?
Grace Hancock: As much as I like free rein, I work well to a brief. I like to get a good listening list from the director and to keep feeding back my ideas to make sure I’m on the right track. Good and regular communication is invaluable from both sides to make sure the music is spot on!
D&CFilm: What’s your favourite film music?
Grace Hancock: I have a soft spot for the music of the 90s Disney films that I grew up with – the Hans Zimmer scores in Lion King, Alan Menken and Howard Ashman‘s character songs – all the things that moved me in my formative years. Howard Shore’s music for LOTR is another example of movie score perfection!
D&CFilm: How do you know if the music in a film has worked?
Grace Hancock: The colours and textures of the music fits and enriches the mood of the scene. I find it helps to think of music as a visual thing. Especially for film. Like a tapestry woven into the visuals. The music should expand the medium’s potential and inspire strong emotional responses.
D&CFilm: As well as working on films what do you do in your wider music practice?
Grace Hancock: I like to write for theatre, too. I recently devised the music for a children’s theatre show ‘The Elves and the Shoemaker’ with Above Bounds Theatre Collective and performed it with them onstage, which was fabulous. Jingles are always fun and I also like to write songs just for myself and expand my gig repertoire as a singer/pianist.
D&CFilm: Tell us a bit about your musical background?
Grace Hancock: The stuff I listened to growing up was largely a bombastic mix of glam rock and R’n’B… and a little touch of opera. As a kid, I was always singing around the house with my sister or grappling with a Ray Charles song on piano. I’ve got my degree in Popular Music Performance and my Community Musician Internship, after which I got my current part time job as a vocal coach at Exeter College. I tried every music related job under the sun before settling on composing but I think this one will stick!
D&CFilm: Who would win in a musical play off.. Alexandre Desplat, Lalo Schifrin or John Williams – and whose team would you be on? (Insert other composers if you fancy!)
Grace Hancock: I’d say Lalo Schifrin, as he knows the key (haha) to making a bad-ass theme.
D&CFilm: Where can we hear more of your work and how do filmmakers approach you about a collaboration?
Grace Hancock: Take a look at some examples of my previous work and contact me through my website www.gracehancockmusic.com or follow me on Facebook or Instagram:
D&CFilm: Thanks Grace!