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Exclusive Music from
The Forbidden Kingdom
All Music Used by Persmission
Jamie Luker, David Buckley, Mal
Luker - mixing TOWN CREEK at Wavecrest Studios.
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THE FORBIDDEN KINGDOM is one of
those East meets West ideas. What
was your approach in handling this
regarding style and instrumentation?
DAVID BUCKLEY: There were questions
right from the beginning as to how
far we should go in any one
direction. Actually, there is only
one western character in the movie,
Jason, who plays the young kung-fu
geek from Boston. The film is about
his journey through ancient China
and his growth from boy to man. We
looked for a way of trying to
represent his ‘alien’ status in this
strange mythical world. Obviously,
the symphony orchestra plays a
western role and the traditional
eastern instruments that we used:
the erhu, the pipa, and the gu zheng,
represent the other end of the
spectrum. To link the two worlds
together we used the electric violin
- played by Hugh Marsh. He has
played on some of Harry's projects
before, and generously worked on
this score with me. He makes such an
incredible, other-worldly sound.
It's very ethereal and bridges the
gap between the western violin and
the Chinese erhu. 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. There is even electric
guitar in the score (played by my
old friend Keith Bayley) to give a
bit of a ‘Spaghetti Eastern’ sound!
CC: How much music did you write for
THE FORBIDDEN KINGDOM?
DAVID BUCKLEY: I believe it was 94
minutes in the end...it certainly
felt like that much!
CC: What would you say your biggest
challenge was scoring this film?
DAVID BUCKLEY: Well, at heart it is
a martial arts movie, so like any
film that has a lot of action in it,
there is a certain fear that exists
before one embarks on the larger
cues. The lyrical sections are
pleasing to do because you can enjoy
the exoticism of the soloists and
the harmonic ground that the
orchestra provides. By and large,
that part is immediately satisfying
and gratifying to do. The 5th reel
of the film is action from beginning
to end and starting this was
incredibly daunting – I knew when I
started I could not stop until about
20 minutes of music was covered. It
began big and just had to get bigger
over the course of the reel. With
action cues, you know there are
going to be a lot more notes...and
also the repercussions of picture
changes is going to be far greater
than in a lyrical passage. We were
very close to the wire on this film.
Literally the night before we were
going to score, I was getting new
picture edits, and having to conform
the cues to them. One has to be very
flexible with a film like this…
CC: Not only did you have a limited
amount of time, but also a limited
budget for this score.
DAVID BUCKLEY: Yes. We operated on
the narrowest of budgets to get this
going. All the folks who got
involved with this score did so at
bargain-basement prices. Still, the
professionalism of everyone was
amazing. They treated the project as
if it was the best gig that they
could have got. It was a very tricky
journey, but everyone was really,
really cool about everything. I'd
love to work again with all of these
CC: What you've shown me looks and
sounds great. Has there been any
talk about a sequel?
DAVID BUCKLEY: Nothing I have heard
yet. I heard back from the dubbing
stage recently that everything is
working really well together.
Everyone is very happy. I'm slightly
out of the loop right now, but I
think it’s going to be very
interesting to watch how it does
when it releases in April. But come
on. It's Jackie Chan and Jet Li! I
personally think it is going to be
successful. There is a fight scene
in the third reel that people are
already classifying as "a moment in
cinema history." I think there is
scope for a second film, but we will
have to see…
At this point, I was taken upstairs to another
mixing room where Mal and Jamie Luker (father and son mixing team)
were busy with another project from David Buckely - TOWN CREEK.
I was treated to sit right in the sweet-spot of the 5.1 mix and
watched a pretty frantic scene with Buckley's music enhancing the
freneticsm at every turn. Let's just say I'll never pet a horse the
same way again.
CC: Woah. So what was it like
working on this film. You were
working on this simultaneously to
THE FORBIDDEN KINGDOM. Right?
DAVID BUCKLEY: Well, mercifully TOWN
CREEK was a very different animal.
It didn't start off that I would be
scoring them at the same time, but
due to delays it ended up that way.
I'm jolly glad that the two films
were so different. TOWN CREEK is a
horror film with a twist. The score
is very ambient with a lot of sound
design and only a minimal orchestral
contribution. There are a couple of
moments where lyricism and melody
works, but on the whole, it is
tension, atmosphere and energy.
CC: Do you anticipate soundtrack
releases for both THE FORBIDDEN
KINGDOM and TOWN CREEK?
DAVID BUCKLEY: Right now, for TOWN
CREEK, there's nothing planned. THE
FORBIDDEN KINGDOM is being done as
we speak, so I'm hopeful that things
will get completed in time to match
the film's release.
CC: So now you've been working for
four and a half months straight.
What are you moving on to now?
DAVID BUCKLEY: Well, hopefully some
sleep! Actually, I think I'm going
to go back over to London to help on a project there. After that, I'll be waiting
to see how THE FORBIDDEN KINGDOM
does. There are a couple of other
things in the pipeline but they are
very vague at the moment.
CC: Will you attend the premiere of
THE FORBIDDEN KINGDOM?
DAVID BUCKLEY: Oh yes...if I'm
invited! Whether it's in China or
America, I'd love to. I'm betting my
invite is in the post somewhere
CC: I appreciate the time and the
tour today. Thank you.
DAVID BUCKLEY: Thank you, Chris.
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