Lion Of Judah (CD release) – FilmScoreMonthly.com READ
Lion Of Judah (Warner Home Video Blu-ray release) – JustLoveMovies.com READ
101 Strings: Yesterday and Today – Furious.com READ
MovieScore Media Interview –
Mikael Carlsson, founder of the International Film Music Critics Association and president of MovieScore Media interviews composer Greg Sims about his score for The Lion Of Judah.
How did you get involved in this project?
I was contacted by the president of Animated Family Films, Johan Sturm, a few years ago. “The Lion of Judah” had just been completed, and he was in need of a composer. He knew of me because of my score for “Tugger: the Jeep 4x4 Who Wanted to Fly” as he had acquired the home media distribution rights for that film.
The film is known as “the first 3D faith-based animation to be released in theaters worldwide”. Did you feel that you wanted to treat the Biblical references and the strong element of Christian faith musically?
No, I treated it strictly as an epic tale of adventure, but with borderline “over-the-top” dramatic emphasis. I’ve always loved animated movies, and the underscore is extremely important in this genre to help tell the story. Even though today’s CGI animated films have very realistic characters, an emotionally powerful score is necessary to help the “actors” come alive. So I try to really ramp up and amplify each emotion to make sure the scene has the impact it should.
The score is very playful with a lot of action-orientated writing in the tradition of “mickey-mousing” but always with a serious musical tone. How many themes and motifs did you write for the foundation of the score?
I developed four main themes. Two worked in minor keys as well as major keys, and I used both variations throughout the score. Each action sequence has dozens of hit points to which I carefully synched the score so the listener’s ear can better “see’” the action. Sometimes when there is a lot going on in a scene, the music can be a helpful aid.
Was it essential to this film that the score was a live orchestral one rooted in the classical tradition?
My philosophy is that when your movie is computer generated – especially films that are animated or laden with special effects – having an organic, live orchestra performing the score adds a human element back to the equation. For me, no music can equal the drama and power of a live symphonic sound – whether pure, or mixed with virtual instruments and sound design elements.
What was the most challenging aspect of writing the score for “The Lion of Judah”, and how long did you work on it?
Perhaps the biggest challenge was the fact that I was given almost total control over the direction of the underscore! The director and producers gave me carte blanche to compose however I wanted. I think I only re-wrote two of the 44 cues. I spent about six weeks on the 55-minute score. I also spent weeks re-producing nine of the ten original songs in the film. The songs in this movie are very strong, written by South African artists specifically for the film.
“The Lion of Judah” is your first major feature film score. Is this the musical area where you want to work primarily, or do you like to share your career between, for instance, the concert stage and underscoring various media?
I do believe that film scoring is my “calling”. I seem to write my best music when scoring to film. There is something about the visual stimulation and the drama that inspires me to tap into a deeper well of creativity. I also have a lifelong love of symphonic music, especially music from the Romantic era, and this medium gives modern day composers one of the best opportunities to write for orchestra and get paid to do so.