Please, Miss Cornish, how would you personally introduce yourself?
I studied violin and composition at the Royal Northern College of Music and the Royal College of Music in London. I came to Los Angeles to pursue film music about 5 years ago, and I’ve been working here ever since.
I have a deep passion for epic orchestral music, and film music is the greatest embodiment of that genre. I am beginning work on a symphony for the Danish Radio Symphony Orchestra, who played my score for ‘Island of Lost Souls.’ They are an amazing ensemble, and I’m thrilled to be writing something for them.
I am a huge fan of modern and contemporary art, and go to museums every chance I get. I just finished reading a biography of Andy Warhol, one of my favourite artists at the moment.
You’re one of the youngest composers of the moment. How old are you? And do you think it is a good or a bad thing in the cinema community?
I’m 31. My age is less an issue than my gender, I’m afraid. I find myself frequently having to explain that I am a serious composer, and not the singer in some pop band! I plan for that to go away soon as more people get to know my name and my music.
I’m mostly inspired by contemporary classical concert music. I just discovered the early symphonies of Penderecki, which are both modern and highly emotional. Naturally I respect John Williams, who I think has always written brilliant music.
As a child I grew up listening to the music of Wagner, Mahler, Bruckner and the masters of romantic music. I’m sure their music has continued to inspire me throughout my life.
Do you have any mentor?
I’ve had many great teachers, and many people in film music as close friends. But I don’t believe I have any one mentor. I’ve learned from all the people around me.
May you tell me about your training?
Among all your scores, what are the ones you like the most?
My score for ‘Island of Lost Souls’ is my favourite. The director wanted epic, bombastic music throughout, which is a terrific opportunity to do what I love the most. They gave me a 100 piece orchestra and a full choir for the recording which was a great pleasure to have.
When and how did you come to work in film music?
I broke into film composition when I moved to Los Angeles. I began orchestrating and got "5 Children and It", my first major feature film through a recommendation of a music producer friend who was working on a song with Sean Lennon for the end titles.
What do you feel when you’re composing and what do you like in this process?
I lose all sense of time when I am working. The music becomes everything around me. I empathize with the characters in the story and I get my ideas from those feelings.
How would you describe your score for FIVE CHILDREN AND IT?
I would describe it as a magical fantasy. The director, John Stephenson, said ‘don’t hold back,’ and so I wrote the score to feel very big and emotional. It centres around a group of brothers and sisters and this strange creature that can grant their wishes. So there is some whimsy there. But it takes place during WWII and so there is a darkness and sadness as the children wait to see if their father returns. That mood was captured in the themes as well.
For ISLAND OF LOST SOULS?
This is a much, much darker and serious fantasy score. The director saw the film as being for families, but wanted a sophisticated and adult score. I began by writing themes for each of the main characters in the story, which come back in many different forms throughout the score. I utilized the orchestra to create some very rich colours and haunting effects, so it’s not just about melodies here. The score covers a great range of emotions and moods. It is a very brooding piece of music, but with a great deal of energy for the plot.
And for SO GOES THE NATION?
It’s a very different score from the others. This is a documentary, and there is speaking throughout. So the music needed to be much simpler and sparse. There are aspects of minimalism in the use of interlocking rhythms in various parts of the orchestra. I had to keep the music neutral and not too emotional so that the film’s subject felt more even handed. My job was to not take sides in the political happenings of the film.
About FIVE CHILDREN AND IT:
May you tell me about your technical approach?
This score is unabashedly thematic and melodic. The director wanted a memorable theme right from the start to establish the film’s mood. While there were a few cues of an atmospheric nature, there are themes and motifs running through almost every moment of the score.
Did you choose special instruments for the score?
5 children has a traditional orchestra and choir as the main component of the score. No special non-orchestral instruments in there at all. I wanted the score to feel classic. As it was about magic and fantasy I included a great deal of celesta, glockenspiel, harp and choir – which blended to give the score a shimmery, magical quality.
How much time did you have to compose your score, and with what budget?
The film had already commissioned a score from another composer, but that score was thrown out. I came in with almost no time to get the score done. I wrote the score beginning to end in 12 days. And while I had always intended for it to be recorded with a live orchestra, there was simply no time for it. So my electronic orchestra was carefully mixed and mastered, and that is the final soundtrack. I was sorry to not have the live ensemble – it makes such a huge difference in how the music sounds, but there was nothing to be done.
Do you have any anecdotes about the process to tell us, funny or interesting things?
It was the easiest and most enjoyable project. The director and I connected right from the start and he approved virtually every note the first time. And with only 12 days to score a music heavy feature there was no time for anything funny or interesting to happen!
I only worked with the director, whose main instructions to me were to ignore everything in the temp score, and do something completely original.
What do you personally think about the subjects of the film?
I read E. Nesbitt stories as a child, and it was a treat to put one of my favourite stories to music. Kenneth Brannagh and Eddie Izzard, the leads of the film are also favourites of mine, and little Freddie Highmore is such a terrific young actor.
Are you interested in family films?
Since doing ‘Island of Lost Souls’ I am mostly interested in finding darker stories to tell. While I appreciate and enjoy music for lighter films, it is in the more deeply resonant places in music I am most drawn.
What did this film change in you & for you?
This was my first feature film, and so it was my debut, of sorts, as a film composer. It gave me a thrill to see my work on the screen for the first time, and so I will remember that always.
Why was your score for five children & it not published as a cd?
There was so little time from when I wrote the score till the film’s release to get a CD out in time. I tried to get a deal, but the film’s release was too close.
You are working on three projects: SO GOES THE NATION & ISLAND OF LOST SOULS & SOLSTICE? May you tell me about them? I think I’ve said a good amount about ‘5 Children,’ ‘Island of Lost Souls’ and So Goes The Nation." My most recent scoring assignment is Solstice, a scary thriller. This score is also very different from the others, using more unusual colours and effects and less thematic materials. It’s very textural and creepy. I worked with a string ensemble and wrote all kinds of strange effects using a number of extended techniques. As the film takes place in the swamps of Louisiana, I had my brother Alex play slide guitar, and avant garde effects to create a haunting sounds reminiscent of music from the American south.
Do you have any other projects to come?
I’m working on the symphony now, and hope for it to be premiered some time in 2008.
Do you have specific message to add?
Thank you very much for asking me to be a part of this.
Pour échapper aux dangers de la guerre et attendre le retour de leur père aviateur, cinq enfants sont envoyés chez leur oncle, un écrivain excentrique qui vit dans un immense manoir sur les côtes anglaises.Désobéissant aux instructions qui leur ont été données, les cinq frères et soeurs visitent une pièce interdite et découvrent un passage secret. Celui-ci les mène à une étrange créature, le génie des sables, qui semble pouvoir exaucer leurs voeux les plus fous...Espionnés par leur redoutable cousin, les cinq enfants vont vivre mille aventures incroyables, magiques et merveilleuses, jusqu'à ce qu'un danger menace ceux qu'ils aiment plus que tout...
Durée: 86 mn
Réalisateur: John Stephenson
Acteurs: Freddie Highmore, Zoë Wanamaker, Kenneth Branagh, Jonathan Bailey, Jessica Claridge, Poppy Rogers, Tara Fitzgerald
Scénario: David Solomons
Musique: Jane Antonia Cornish
Sortie en salle: 20/10/2004
Sortie en DVD: 07/07/2005
SO GOES THE NATION
Un documentaire sur la campagne menée par les candidats John Kerry et George W. Bush lors des élections présidentielles de 2004 aux Etats-Unis
"…SO GOES THE NATION" examines America's tumultuous electoral process through the eyes of diverse politicians, activists, and voters. The 2004 presidential election between George W. Bush and John Kerry provides the stage, showing how the voting public is manipulated by both parties’ leaders and their political marketing machines. Political activism and the thoughts of voters themselves are revealed in the ultimate cross-section state: Ohio.
In addition to interviewing American voters and grassroots campaigners, filmmakers James D. Stern and Adam Del Deo gained unprecedented access to high-ranking Republican and Democratic campaign strategists and officials. From the Republican end of the political spectrum, the documentary features exclusive interviews with Edward Gillespie (Chairman of the Republican National Committee), Ken Mehlman (Bush’s 2004 campaign manager), Matthew Dowd (Bush’s chief campaign strategist), and Mark McKinnon (Bush’s media strategist). Balancing out the picture are insights from their Democratic counterparts: Terry McAuliffe (Chairman of the Democratic National Committee), Mary Beth Cahill (Kerry’s 2004 campaign manager), Tad Devine (Kerry’s chief campaign strategist), and Paul Begala (a senior democratic advisor). "…SO GOES THE NATION" documents the role played by these powerful individuals in promoting hot button issues to the forefront of the political process and in doing so, how they attempt to shape public opinion and swing an election.
In the final two weeks of the election, the filmmakers sent fifteen camera crews crisscrossing Ohio, a battleground state that has consistently lived up to its familiar political axiom: "As goes Ohio - so goes the nation." Historically, the political and social status quo of Ohio is indicative of the American voting public at large and Ohio has been the center of the political maelstrom many times in its short history: In fact, since 1960, every President to reach office has carried the state. In the entirety of U.S. history, Republican candidates have never taken a Presidential election without winning in Ohio.
"…SO GOES THE NATION" looks at the election and the voting public through lenses large and small, and in doing so, examines both the U.S. voting process and the American national psyche. The documentary ultimately provides a rare and unique opportunity to show the real electoral story of democracy in action.
Music from 'Island of Lost Souls' can be heard here: www.janeantoniacornish.com