10 Inspirational Women You Should Know.

When I was growing up the number of women in my immediate family far outweighed the men, the random course of nature meant I was surrounded by my mother, sister, aunts and grandmothers. There were of course wonderful men in my family but I certainly was positively influenced by the hard working, creative, kind, strong, caring women around me. They have all taught me so many things but I would like to give a special mention to my Mum, Sheila Barker, who is one of the kindest people I know.

Outside of my family, I've met some very inspiring women and as it's International Women's Day, I wanted to take a moment to share a little of the story of these great female role models who are making an impact on the world - whether that be through succeeding against the odds, smashing the glass ceiling or making a difference through charitable, philanthropic or artistic pursuits.

Cathy Heffernan

22.JPG

Cathy is a freelance journalist and producer director and we met in 2016 when we were fellow mentees on the Women In Film and TV Mentoring Scheme. Most recently, she produced Dot, a docudrama about the life of sign language poet Dot Miles and directed Dot’s Legacy, a documentary looking at her work.

In 2017 she received funding from the Mary Raftery Fund to write a series of investigative articles looking at education for deaf children in Ireland which were published in the Irish Times

She started out in TV working on a magazine programme in Dublin, Ireland but made a detour into print journalism, working at the Guardian as a reporter and news subeditor for over five years.

Since leaving the Guardian in 2013, she has taken part in Channel 4’s investigative journalism programme and worked on Channel 4 Dispatches, directed some feature length programmes for BBC See Hear and a number of documentaries for BSLBT  including Shakespeare: Found in TranslationDeaf Sisterhood and Crossing the Divide as well as a feature news story on deaf education for C4 News.  


Clare Perkins

17202797_809067999231975_7976782937529948934_n.jpg

Clare is an acclaimed actor currently appearing in Female Parts: Shorts, three one woman shows that explore what it is to be a wife, mother and immigrant. Clare stars in the The Immigrant, which follows Ama, a highly accomplished Caribbean woman and space pioneer in her field.

I first met Clare at Merton Studios around 18 years ago when she was a regular on Channel Five's soap Family Affairs. Clare balances her demanding work schedule with her close-knit family; she's a proud mother and grandmother.

Her varied TV and Film credits range from Death In Paradise and Eastenders to Secrets and Lies and Bullet Boy (her scenes as the desperate mother in Saul Dibb's movie never fail to move me to tears.) Her theatre credits are too many to list but include Daisy Pulls It Off, The Curious Incident of The Dog in The Night Time National Theatre tour and The Gate for which she was nominated last year for Best Supporting Actor at The OFFIES.

On top of all this Clare works extensively in radio for the BBC, regularly participates in role play for junior doctors at several London hospitals, reads for the RNIB and is a patron of Brixton Inclusive.


Laura Santini

LauraSantini.png

Laura has been running Holbrook Animal Rescue, an independent  rescue at her home in Horsham for over two decades. I met her a couple of years ago and I'm genuinely in awe of the work she does. Holbrook have a selection of dogs, cats, ponies, sheep and pigs, amongst other creatures which have all been lovingly rescued and cared for by Laura and a dedicated team of volunteers who arrive every day to help walk the dogs, feed and groom the animals, give them access to proper veterinary care, help to rehabilitate them after the often difficult starts they've had in life and ultimately find them loving forever homes.

I adopted my own dog Monty from there 18 months ago and I help walk the dogs there whenever I can. I have never met anyone so completely committed to caring for animals or indeed who manages to stay so sunny and cheerful despite witnessing such horrifying stories that bring the animals to her.

Laura is also a very talented artist and somehow she finds the time to paint.

You can find out how to support the animal rescue in the link above and find out about Laura's artwork here.


Zeb Achonu

Zeb 2.jpg

Zeb is a Film and TV editor who I met in 2016, another fellow mentee on the Women In Film and TV Mentoring Scheme. With almost twenty years in the industry, she has cut drama, obs docs, children's shows, entertainment and music documentaries. She spent two years living in Paris where she started the Paris branch of international online music show, BalconyTV. Her enthusiasm for all things film, TV and music, led her to co-found MUSEfest, an international showcase of film and music by women, which hosts screening and music events in London and Paris, with more cities in the pipeline.

Zeb is a mother of 2 young children, sits on the board of directors for Women In Film & TV (UK), is a member of the Guild of British Film & TV Editors, speaks on panels about her career and life choices, engages with young people starting out the industry, and attempts to balance family life with her achievements in drama and documentary film making.

You can read more about her current projects on these links... Born in New York, Raised in Paris, Eastenders, The Dog Rescuers.


Captain Hannah Winterbourne

HannahWinterbourne2.jpg

Hannah is an Officer of the British Army serving with the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers. I was lucky enough to meet her a couple of years ago as she is the fiancée of my long term collaborator, Film Director, Jake Graf.

In 2013 Hannah came out as a transgender woman and became the highest ranking transgender soldier within the British Army. As part of the Army LGBT Forum, she became the Army's Transgender Representative where she has responsibility to advise Senior Army commanders on transgender policy, educate the wider Defence and most importantly, mentor and support the Army's many transgender soldiers.

Hannah is also a Patron of the charity Mermaids who support gender non-conforming children and their families.

You can find out more about Hannah and her associated organisations here.


Louisa Rainbird

LouisaRainbird.jpg

I met Louisa a couple of years ago - she is the Head of Creative for Television at music publisher Music Sales Creative. She oversees the TV operations of Music Sales in the UK, working with broadcasters, production companies, content creators and music supervisors to provide creative services and composer suggestions, as well as handling licensing requests and incoming copyright queries. Recent projects include The Crown, Civilisations, Gunpowder, The End Of The F***ing World and Howards End.

Louisa works hard to promote the roles of women within the industry and regularly appears as a speaker or panelist at events within both the music and TV and Film industry. She was listed in SheSaidSo's Alternative Power List 2017 and Music Week's '30 Under 30.


Hannah White

HannahWhite.jpg

Hannah is an incredible singer songwriter and I first met her as a fellow artist on the open mic scene. I've known her for getting on for a decade now and in that time she has gone from strength to strength as a musician, humanitarian and champion for the arts.

Her music has been played on BBC Radio 2 and she is the co-owner of music venue The Sound Lounge with her husband Keiron Marshall. They run a variety of projects working with people in need from various backgrounds - from refugees to lonely people within local communities.

The video below is one of my favourite songs by Hannah and you can find more about her and her brand new album Elephant Eye here.


Sylvie Boden

SylvieBoden.jpg

Sylvie is a TV director and producer with extensive credits in both drama and comedy. I met Sylvie over 15 years ago when she was a director on The Bill where at the time I was working as Post Production Supervisor. Sylvie directed both ambitious live episodes of the cop drama and went on to produce almost 80 episodes including one about the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Service for which she collected a BAFTA.

Sylvie's many other credits include Keeping Mum and Faith In The Future but it was during her time at The Bill that I was able to witness first hand what an incredible talent she is. She has the ability to motivate cast and crew to push themselves to achieve their very best and she does it all with absolute dignity, neither a pushover or ball-breaker. I gained the utmost respect for her and learned so much during our time working together.

Sylvie is also an exceptionally gifted fine artist and her work is currently being exhibited at The Artmill Gallery in Plymouth.


Katherine Ellis

Katherineellis2.jpg

Katherine is one of the most respected and versatile vocalists and topline writers in the music industry today. I met her at an event run by WFTV a few years ago. Since then we have worked together on a few projects and she is the first artist I've ever co-written a song with - a truly magical experience.

She performs extensively throughout the world with her vast back catalogue including the huge club hits "When You Touch Me' and 'Tears' with The Freemasons, 'Lost' by Roger Sanchez and 'Dreaming' by The Ruff Driverz.

Katherine is also featured on the BAFTA and OSCAR winning original soundtrack to accompany the feature film ‘Gravity’. Her performance on the title track can be heard at the climax of the movie! I've sat next to Katherine during a few sessions recording her vocals and all I can say is she is a force of nature!

You can find out more about Katherine here.


Christiana Ebohon-Green

IMG_1906.JPG

Christiana is an award winning drama director and over the past couple of years, I've been fortunate to write scores for two of her short films. In 2016 Creative England and the BFI funded Some Sweet Oblivious Antidote starring amongst others, Sir Lenny Henry, Wunmi Mosaku, Colin Salmon and Arinze Kene. In 2017 a Film London Calling Plus short called Support.

A graduate of the National Film and Television School, she was selected for the Women and Film and TV Mentoring Scheme in 2015 and BAFTA Elevate Initiative in 2017.

Recently she has directed Holby City and Father Brown for the BBC and over the last fifteen years her directing credits include Doctors, Eastenders, Hollyoaks and Emmerdale plus a number of award-winning short films. Having built such a strong body of experience, Christiana is now focused on more challenging TV drama and also feature films. This summer she will be directing BBC prime time hit Call The Midwife. You can view Christiana's showreel below.

Suspects Music Blog - Season 5 Episodes 5 and 6 - The Grand Finale!

Hey folks, I’ve been buried under a pile of vintage synthesizers in the studio for the last few weeks and have just managed to get out and share this blog with you :-)

If you’re interested in the composition process when working on a drama, then read on and ideally watch the episodes I’m discussing on the links below...

https://www.my5.tv/suspects/season-5/episode-5

As the final 2 episodes of the season were shown back to back, I’ve tackled them both in this edition of my blog. These 2 episodes are my favourites of this season, some major bombshells are dropped, the story cleverly twists and turns and the tension is off the scale!

In episode 5, we establish two new key themes. After the discovery of the body of missing person Sarah Kramer, DS Jack Weston (Damien Moloney) goes to visit her father, Joseph Kramer (Paul Copley). This scene is scored with a slow piano melody - it pulls at our emotions but in a very understated way. To keep it simple and sparse and yet help carry the notes, there is a long slow moving reverb on the piano, as the scene progresses and Joseph’s distress grows, held notes are played on the cello and viola. When working on a scene like this, I prefer to adopt a ‘less is more’ approach. We want the music to support the visuals but if we overdo the emotion or sorrow with a busy melody or overly grand arrangement, it can end up seeming melodramatic and hindering the scene rather than helping. Never under estimate the power of one held note!

The other new theme is for DS Alisha Brooks (Lenora Crichlow) and her undercover operation investigating dastardly DCI Dan Drummond (James Murray), first revealed at the end of part 2, when she confides in Jack. The melody on the viola is an expression of intrigue - it’s asking the question on Jack’s lips; what the fuck is going on here?!  Underneath are some synths, that I’ve programmed with lots of air around them and some pulsing delay - again, it’s executed with subtlety but it represents the sort of nagging questions in your mind that keep you awake at night.

These themes are revisited throughout the episode, but I think we should continue on to episode 6 to witness it all coming together.

https://www.my5.tv/suspects/season-5/episode-6

One of my favourite parts of the job when composing is when all the character or plot themes start to weave together - for the musician it’s fundamentally about understanding harmony and as a composer it’s about hitting the key visual moments and using the music as a vehicle to subconsciously help the viewer understand the story.

This comes in to play towards the end of part 3; at 29.50 Alisha asks Mo if Drummond helped cover up and bury Sarah Kramer’s body, we hear a theme I’ve been using for Drummond since that very first reveal at the end of episode 1 when we learned that he is connected to Mo Jones (Neil Stuke) and covering up for him, it’s a chord progression on Rhodes piano with a very spiky sounding synth under it. Here we just hear the briefest part of it as we transition into the next scene but my thinking behind it was thus; the chord progression sounds slightly melancholy but at the same time pedestrian, it’s as if Drummond is in so deep, he’s resigned to these things he has to do, whilst the spiky synth underneath is telling us, this is a bad man and all cannot end well!

This then morphs into Joseph’s theme as he confesses to Daniel, we hear the sad piano but then the strings and dark breathy synths subtly underline his disgust at the realisation that Daniel was involved in her burial. We move into Drummond’s serial theme, the rhythmic bass line and uncomfortable synths, and as he galvanizes his plan, the percussion builds, the pensive rhodes melody comes in and when his mind turns to murder, those high frequency noises add to the feeling of unease and impending horror, these build as he goes to Mo’s cell and resolve in a big reverby rattle. As I said before, this cannot end well!

You can listen to that cue here.

I really hope you enjoyed the series and that it was interesting to gain an insight into how I go about scoring it. Suspects is very dear to my heart and I have loved every minute working on it.

As always, I’d love to hear your comments.

Back soon,

-Justine

Suspects Music Blog - Season 5 Episode 4.

SPOILER ALERT! - EPISODE DETAILS DISCUSSED HERE.

I'm a little late this week because of the bank holiday weekend but I'm guessing you're all in the same boat so not to worry.

I'm here now to discuss Episode 4 which aired Wednesday 24th August.

During the season so far, we've been slowly discovering that DCI Dan Drummond (James Murray) is rather shady. Behind the tall, dark and handsome exterior is a senior police officer knee deep in corruption and there have been musical references to that throughout. They have been fairly subtle in episodes 1-3 but I have been building a theme that appears whenever we see Drummond up to no good or the consequences of his actions, and in Episode 4, this becomes more prominent. The biggest section musically in this episode is at the end of part 3, when Drummond is at the top story of the car park with local villain, Mo (Neil Stuke) and his scum bag brother Stan (Sam Stockman).

This is where lots of themes start to weave together. At the top of the sequence we begin with the Suspects theme as Jack races off responding to the call he's just received, when we get up to the car park, we bring back the dark threatening theme I've been using whenever Stan is on the scene - things are not looking good for him but he tells Jack where to find Lucy and when we see Jack reunited with her, Lucy's theme is reprised, musically breathing a huge sigh of relief. Cut back to Stan and Mo and Stan's theme builds to its awful conclusion as Mo throws him over the edge, and as he hits the ground, the drums tell us it's over. Drummond's theme coming in hard now as we see the fallout - this is intense!

You can listen to that cue here.
 

After witnessing Stan's demise, TDC Gary Roscoe (Perry Fitzpatrick) starts to be very suspicious of Drummond and as he sits at his desk in CID in shock, for the first time we hear echoes of the Drummond theme but with the introduction of a higher Rhodes piano line in there too. These pensive notes are telling us that the cogs are ticking in Gary's head- he's trying to figure out what the hell Drummond is up to.

When Gary sits in the pub and starts to explain his suspicions to Charlie (Clare Hope-Ashitey), we hear that melody again and now it's starting to build momentum.

You can listen to that cue here.

As we reach the gripping climax of this story we are going to hear more of these themes so do listen out!

I hope you enjoyed the episode and the music - I'd love to hear your thoughts or if you have any questions, please do leave a comment.

- Justine


 

Suspects Music Blog - Season 5 Episode 3.

NO SPOILERS!

Hey folks, I’m back to chat about the music for episode three which aired on Wednesday 17th August.

This week, I thought I’d focus more on the technical side of what’s involved as opposed to the composition. So here’s how I create the Suspects sound...

  Screenshot from the Logic project for Episode Three.

Screenshot from the Logic project for Episode Three.

I work from my studio in London using Logic X. Over the years, I’ve been creating and developing my own signature sounds and storing them in my little black book of weird and wonderful noises. I also have a collection of excellent sample libraries from companies such as Spitfire, Native Instruments and Sonokinetic.

As I’ve mentioned before I also use the live recordings of Richard Curran on violin, viola and cello, specially recorded for each show, and there’s some live bass guitar in the mix too. All in all, I usually end up with 100 - 120 channels of audio - that's a lot of layers!

This use of modern, digital sounds and uncomfortable synths and noises, blended with the raw, real quality of the strings and piano are what make up the show's musical identity. It’s a reflection of the show itself; modern, edgy, pacey but with some real, uncomfortable grit and emotion in there too.

I hope you are enjoying the series so far - as always, I'd love to hear your thoughts or if you have any questions, please do leave a comment.

- Justine

Suspects Music Blog - Season 5 Episode 2.

SPOILER ALERT! - EPISODE DETAILS DISCUSSED HERE.

Hello everyone, I’m back to discuss the music on episode two which aired on Wednesday 10th August.

Episode two introduces the use of some new character/ storyline music themes and I’m focussing here on how I approached one of the key character/ relationship strands when writing the score.

I created a theme to support the story of the connection between Jack (Damien Moloney) and Rose (Karen Hassan), which subsequently develops to cover the thread of daughter Lucy (Lucy Carless) too.

Early in the story, when Jack goes to question Rose at her home, we hear this theme for the first time as a simple string bed, it’s subtle but tinged with a kind of sorrowful intrigue - like Rose, at this point, the music is holding back.

In part two, when Jack returns to talk to Rose again, we learn that her life with Stan is ‘not a bed of roses’, in fact it’s become intolerable and she reveals bruises on her arm from where he’s been violently abusing her. There is a delicate sparse piano melody running under the scene, it’s very gently piquing our curiosity and showing her vulnerability. It resolves with the string bed we heard in part one, underlining the bruises.

You can listen to that cue here.

Versions of this theme appear whenever we visit this storyline, it gathers momentum with the addition of synth beds and percussive elements as we reach end of part three and discover that Rose, is not as innocent as she claims and is behind the sale of baby Katie.

It reaches it’s conclusion for this episode in the final arrangement in part four. Jack meets Lucy by the marina at Tower Bridge for the first time and initially the piano and strings theme underscore their introduction but once Rose screams out to Lucy, realising it’s a trap, the theme steps up- the piano melody is at double speed, drums and percussion push the tension and severity of the situation, but it’s not a adrenaline fueled chase and arrest theme; this is the sad song of Rose’s downfall and the devastating impact this will have on both her and her daughter. The somewhat mournful cello and viola lines really reflect that.

You can listen to that cue here.

I hope you enjoyed the episode and the music - I'd love to hear your thoughts or if you have any questions, please do leave a comment.

- Justine

 

Suspects Music Blog - Season 5 Episode 1.

SPOILER ALERT! - Episode details discussed here.

Home-grown British crime drama Suspects returned to Channel 5 for its fifth season this week featuring my original score and end credit theme. This innovative drama has received wide spread critical acclaim for its groundbreaking approach; with the dialogue improvised by the actors, Suspects is a fast paced, gripping detective drama. Read on to hear about the brand new score I’ve written for the show and a breakdown of how I approached the first episode and end credit theme.

When Executive Producer, Paul Marquess and Series Producer, Kara Manley talked to me about the return of Suspects for its fifth season, it was very clear that this was to be Suspects and then some! They wanted to keep everything we loved about the show but add some powerful new dimensions; not least the introduction of three great new lead characters DCI Dan Drummond (James Murray), DS Alisha Brooks (Lenora Crichlow) and TDC Gary Roscoe (Perry Fitzpatrick), more location scenes and for the first time, a strong serial element.

This was the perfect opportunity to bring something new to the Suspects music too and Paul and Kara gave me license to revise the score to reflect the shows progression. My approach mirrored that of the production, keep all the best elements but bring some exciting new changes.

An essential new component is the use of real strings, as they are pretty hard to beat when it comes to expressing emotion. They had to be done in just the right way to fit with the show’s identity; gritty and real, the viewer is kept right ‘in’ the drama, so soaring Hollywood strings that transport you to a world far away would never be right for Suspects. I wanted to keep them close, real and not grand sounding and bed them in with the digital and percussive parts of the soundtrack.
Time pressures were a genuine concern as I have just a week to write, record and mix each episode but I knew it was the right way to go and I was determined to make it work. The producers liked the idea and were highly supportive. The solution came in the form of the multi talented musician, Richard Curran. I’d worked with Richard on a previous project and he was the ideal fit. He plays cello, viola and violin on the Suspects score; I’d write the episodes with midi mock-ups for the producers review and once they’d signed off, send the parts to Richard to record remotely at his studio, he’d then get the parts back to me in time for my mix session. It was a pretty ambitious turnaround but we pulled it off and everyone is very pleased with the outcome. The strings add a raw human feeling to the score: fragile and vulnerable.

The main Suspects theme, reprised in the closing credit sequence has always been an important identifying mark in the music; its melodic signature features throughout the series when our heroes are called to action. At the beginning of episode one, Jack gets the phone call from Daisy and races round to Martha’s house. I used that theme here but with a completely new arrangement: loads more textural detail and density and of course the aforementioned strings.

When Jack discovers Martha’s body, what we’re focused on is not a whole lot of blood and gore but Jack’s reaction at the discovery of his boss’s brutal murder. I wanted to create sounds that emulate his horror at the scene, his mind racing, processing what’s happened. I used minimal synths here, which are gated so although there’s a very small sound palette, they have an agitated movement and that almost helicopter juddering rhythm gives a feeling of heady tension while the ringing blown air sounds add to the feeling of discomfort. This is all new musical territory for the show.

As Jack calls it in and we go through the title into the arrival of DCI Drummond and DS Brooks, it’s the first time we hear the real strings in isolation. I love the effect - all this action, tension and discomfort has brought us to the sad truth - a senior police officer has been murdered.

One of the real high points for me scoring this episode was the end sequence in part four, starting when Jack goes to meet Stan (Sam Stockman), there is a very stripped back version of the main Suspects theme as Jack drives off but once he gets to the meeting place, the mood changes; Jack is about to cross a line and the tension is palpable. For the theme under the exchange and disposal of the gun I used minimal over driven drums, a suspenseful raw bass line and a gorgeously sombre cello melody. As Jack tells Drummond ‘it’s done’ the drums hammer out the gravity of what’s just happened and then the music changes tone again. I used a Rhodes piano melody to switch the focus back to Drummond; his extremely difficult day, just one of many as a London Detective Chief Inspector, is drawing to a close and then as we discover he is talking to Mo (Neil Stuke) and all is not as it seems, the music simply supports the drama with a long held cello note - very understated, very lush!  That whole sequence was an absolute joy to work on - when I first mixed the real cello into the Stan gun scene, there was a lot of fist pumping going on in the studio - it was a total buzz!

You can listen to that cue here

The last thing to talk about in this blog post is the new arrangement of the end credit theme. I really like the theme as it stood in seasons 1-4 but the ‘Who killed Martha?’ aspect of this season made me want to add more depth and gravitas this time around. That was achieved by slowing the beats right down; the tempo of the melody is the same as it’s always been but the drums are playing at half speed while keeping the echoing percussion from the original arrangement. The melody is played once again, on the beautifully sobering cello with layered violins and violas playing the harmonic lines. Again, this was so enjoyable to work on and I’m really satisfied with the end result.

You can listen to the end credit music here

I hope you all enjoy this brilliant season of Suspects and my new score and check back each week for my insight into this wonderful musical journey. I'd love to hear your thoughts or if you have any questions, please do leave a comment.

- Justine