The Forbidden Kingdom Poster from Moviegoods



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March 6, 2008


Composer David Buckley
A New Musical Kingdom




Began music experience as a choir-boy.

Studied composition at Cambridge University

Taught music at Cambridge University

Resides in Los Angeles, CA and the United Kingdom

Official Web Site

Composition Credits (Film)

Town Creek

The Forbidden Kingdom

Additional Music

Gone, Baby, Gone
Additional Music

Revenge (Director's Cut)
Additional Music

Tne Number 23
Additional Music

Shrek The Third
Additional Music

Flushed Away
Additional Music


Composition Credits (TV)

Earth Shock: Planet Storm

Earth Shock: Dinosaur Meteor

Grand Designs: Trade Secrets

The Riba Sterling Prize

Buildings that Shaped Britain

Take My Mother In Law

Parish in the Sun



The Real Da Vinci Code

Golden Mumy Tomb Opening - Live!

The Peasants Revolt

Extreme Archeology

Fighter Plane Dig - Live!









Composer David Buckley

"In the end, we decided that the overall tone of the score should not be overtly Chinese. Rather, it should be something that would be accessible for western audiences and acceptable to eastern audiences."

David Buckley

Rushing from L.A.X. (if that is actually possible), I made my way to Wavecrest Studios, where composer DAVID BUCKLEY had just finished a meeting with director JOEL SCHUMACHER.  I was, most generously, welcomed in and, over the next hour, I was treated to a tour of the state-of-the-art facility.  I talked with David Buckley about how came into the film-music business, his work-relationship with Harry Gregson-Williams, and his two new projects:  THE FORBIDDEN KINGDOM and TOWN CREEK.

  Interview: PAGE 1 | PAGE 2
  Exclusive Music from
The Forbidden Kingdom


All Music Used by Permission


THE FORBIDDEN KINGDOM opens April 18, 2008

THE FORBIDDEN KINGDOM opens April 18, 2008



DAVID BUCKLEY in one of the studio rooms at Harry Gregson-Williams Wavecrest Studios.

DAVID BUCKLEY in one of the composition rooms at Harry Gregson-Williams' Wavecrest Studios.

  Interview: PAGE 1 | PAGE 2

CC: How did you make your way into the film scoring business and come to work with Harry Gregson-Williams?

DAVID BUCKLEY: It began in a very different world. I was singing as a choir-boy in Wells Cathedral in Somerset, England. I was there for about 5 years and at some point Harry was there too. I didn't really know him at the time; he was just an adult face to say hello to. Some ten years later, I remember watching SMILA'S SENSE OF SNOW on television and noticed "music by Harry Gregson-Williams." I decided to read up about him and found out how he'd come up through the Media Ventures-world. He and I share a mutual friend, RICHARD HARVEY, who has been an enormous influence and help in my career. It was actually Richard who gave me the final push to meet up with Harry, which I did while Richard was over in LA working on The Da Vinci Code with HANS ZIMMER. I was very fortunate that my meeting with Harry took place at a time when he was extremely busy and he asked pretty much there and then if I could come and help out – an example of being at the right place at the right time! After my time as a choir-boy, I became a music scholar, and then went on to Cambridge University where I studied classical music. After Cambridge, I taught there for a couple of years, while writing jingles and tv music in London. So my background has been very traditional, some might even say "archaic," but it has given me a solid grounding in Western classical music which I consider to be hugely beneficial to the work I am now doing.

CC: What appealed to you about film music or film scoring over more traditional music?

DAVID BUCKLEY: There were a couple of things. The first time I recall being shown that there was a musical-style, and a reason to make music beyond the formats I was accustomed to, was during my choir-boy days. We were asked to perform in a piece of music written by RICHARD HARVEY. It wasn't a film score, but a sort of semi-opera called THE PLAGUE and THE MOONFLOWER. It was written for traditional (huge) orchestra and choir but there were also unconventional elements: ethnic (Andean) instruments, keyboards, electric trumpets, mandolins, all sorts of weird and wonderful things to the eye and ear of a 10 year old. John Williams (the guitarist) played. Ian Holm & Ben Kingsley narrated. Visuals (by Ralph Steadman) were projected onto a vast canvass in the middle of the stage. It was an amazing spectacle that went beyond far beyond anything I had performed to date. It was music AND drama, and for the first time in my life, I realized how incredible it was to see music operating in synchrony with other art forms. It was a defining moment in my musical life.

CC: So later on in life, what inspired you to make the move to film scoring?

DAVID BUCKLEY: As I mentioned earlier, my musical training had been a very traditional one, and I think at some point I reacted against the conventions I had learned. That is not to say that I thought my training was bad or lacking. In fact, I think it is important to have something to react against – learn the rules then break them, or reinvent them. During my time at college, I realized that I was more interested in music that had a melodic appeal to it, something that was a little more accessible than the dry and academic music written by many of my contemporaries. By the time I finished my degree, I realized that the skills I had learned were only of interest to me on a technical level, but not an emotional one. I was far more interested in writing what I felt, rather than subscribing to a particular school of composition. I guess it sounds a little pretentious, but what I enjoy most is telling stories through the medium of music. So it has to be intelligible – not predictable, facile or clichéd - but written in a language that can be globally understood. I introduced my students to the same concept and I still stand by it. So given this shift in emphasis from traditional, academic music to something more ‘commercial’ and my meeting with Richard Harvey, and eventually Harry, I began to see how a career in film music would be good for me, and perhaps even possible!

CC: So how long have you been working with Harry Gregson-Williams now?

DAVID BUCKLEY: I started just under two years ago. I worked on a Dreamworks project called FLUSHED AWAY and since the beginning of last year, I've been at it in a "full-time" sense. I've been with him for almost all his films since that point. Around August of 2007, I got offered my first solo project: TOWN CREEK, which was shortly followed by THE FORBIDDEN KINGDOM.

CC: Talk about this studio that Harry Gregson-Williams has set up here - Wavecrest Studios.

DAVID BUCKLEY: He set this up about 4 or 5 years ago as a film scoring studio - primarily for his projects. You can pretty much do everything you'd want to here, except recording a full orchestra, which would require a larger studio. There are recording rooms for small groups and soloists, writing rooms and mixing rooms. There are a number of people who work at Wavecrest, but it is a relatively small operation. In addition to Harry there are 7 others who work in different capacities: studio manager, tech support, composing assistants, music editor. We are pretty lucky that when the pressure isn't on Harry for a particular project, he's great at trying to find people jobs that match where each of us are in our career. I think anyone who has done a project under Harry’s guidance, really benefits from his experience and input. But it's definitely not a "factory" or an assembly-line of any kind. It is a very unique atmosphere and I think everyone is very proud of the music that comes out of this building.

CC: How did you come to work on THE FORBIDDEN KINGDOM?

DAVID BUCKLEY: That's an interesting story. Two years ago we were working on Harry's score for THE NUMBER 23. I remember working on this small, transitional cue near the beginning of the film, and for some inexplicable reason I worked in this Chinese erhu phrase. I played the cue for Harry and the music editor, Adam Smalley, and while they both liked it, they gave it the thumbs down – and quite right too, I don’t know what I was thinking trying to introduce traditional Chinese instruments to this score! Adam later was to become the music supervisor for THE FORBIDDEN KINGDOM, and he remembered this cue and so got in touch with me and asked me to do a demo. It’s funny how things turn out, but that discarded cue actually became a theme in THE FORBIDDEN KINGDOM. I owe a lot to Adam Smalley and Harry for the faith they showed in me.


Continue the interview (Page 2)


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