DATE : 11TH OF JANUARY 2021
The Movie Culture has a new Interview with David Buckley, who is a Hollywood Film Composer and has given his hand in the music for Jason Bourne, The Town and the recent Greenland film.
Nobody Starring Bob Odenkirk dropped a high octane trailer where it was revealed the feature film music has been composed by David Buckley himself. We got in touch with David Buckley and he was generous to let us know about his work and his film.
Greetings Mr. David Buckley, we at The Movie Culture and are thrilled to have you. We couldn’t be more excited to see your work in Nobody.
David Buckley: Thank you. Doing Well!
Q. Let’s start off this interview by asking you about Nobody, could you tell us about how your first got attached to the project as a whole?
David Buckley: Ah yes, probably almost a year ago to the day, actually, the director, Ilya, who was the Russian director. Yeah, and I think Universal, he would make the the movie had, you know, three or four composers on that list.
I’ve done some projects for Universal before. So I was a you know, I guess my name was current with the studio. And as often with these things, I mean, this was before the pandemic, but it was in Russia. I was in Europe, the studio in Los Angeles. So, you know, we got on a similar thing today. So it’s probably just a straightforward telephone call and just really the director and idea.
And I just sort of sounded each other out. What he wanted to know. I’d read the script that the movie had been shot at that point. So I’d read the script and he wanted to know what I felt about it, what I sort of heard musically based on the reading of the script. He’s actually a musician himself. He plays in bands. So he was able to be quite articulate about his musical likes and dislikes.
So as a sort of preliminary conversation, as everyone with those conversations before film is shot, you can talk about it as much as you want. But it all it’s all sort of speculative until you actually see the thing in front of them.
And any conversation you hate to say that they’re fruitless or useless, but it’s it’s conjecture. You don’t know really at that point. I mean, I’m sure our conversation I’m sure we spoke about one thing and I’m sure we ended up doing another thing, but in anyway, more importantly, it was a way of us to sort of.
You know, we got a feel for each other. See see how he responded to what I was saying, whether we were on the same page and he would have had that conversation with your other composers. But I suppose ultimately I obviously said the things that he wanted to hear and he’d heard some of my music. So, you know, that’s how it really began. For me, it was a sort of a slow beginning of a sort of friendship, professional relationship.
Q. As a Composer, what do you think before daunting on a project such as Nobody or any for that matter?
David Buckley: Oh, well, I think the reason I wanted to do Nobody is because I’ve scored quite a few action movies before and I mean, you know, I was a co-composer on Jason Bourne, co-composer on the town. And I just recently, I think just in America this week, a movie called Greenland come out and before that angel’s fallen. So I’ve got quite a lot in the action. But what really sort of drew me to this script was that it’s actually the film.
They could have actually made sort of almost four different versions of this, but it could have lent way more towards comedy if it wanted to. It could have lent way more towards really kind of badass action or they wanted to it could have led into more kind of psycho psychological drama. But what I like about it actually was rather than just being one of those things, it was actually this amalgamation. So it has it has many dimensions. So, you know, some action films are a little bit more kind of like we’re just waiting to get to the next explosion.
We’re just waiting to absorb the next one. But it’s not to say that this film doesn’t have explosions, but it’s completely well represented in that regard. I mean, the trailer, you know, without giving anything away, the trailer shows it’s going to it’s going to have some high octane, high energy stuff. But there’s also Bob’s character, Bob Odenkirk. There’s there’s a thoughtfulness to him. Then there’s a family man.
There’s a dilemma. This it’s just an impressive film. And as much as on the one hand is quite sort of it’s got that sort of heightened John Wick violence to it. But on the other hand, there’s also a kind of real human dilemma.
And the fact that it does it all within this sort of sort of 90 minute film, it just immediately grabs me at script level and then talking to the director and then talking to the producers.
Everything about it just seemed like it wasn’t it just wasn’t a straightforward cookie cutter action film. And that kind of made me think, oh, this could be this could be fun. Another thing I quite liked about it is that it had even in the script, there were quite a lot of songs like they wanted to use. You know, obviously my job is to score like the underscore, but they wanted some songs in the film.
And it’s always sort of fun working on a school where there’s been, you know, famous pieces of music being played just over and over overlong scenes.
It’s fun for me to think, you know, how do I complement those in there quite, you know, that that sort of iconic songs, how does the score work alongside that?
And, you know, I’ve had to do that in a few other films I’ve worked in the past where you’ve got a lot of play known as Needle Jobs. So what what does the school do that kind of still has an attitude and a personality, but is isn’t treading on the toes of the song? So that was something else.
I mean, I wouldn’t say that’s why I wanted to score it, but just all in all, one of the whole thing to be felt. Yeah, it felt different. I hadn’t done and I’d done a movie quite like this before. And it’s always nice. It’s always nice to feel that you’re doing something on sort of fresh grass and playing in a new sandpit.
Q. You mentioned Jason Bourne and The Town. So as a composer is action your genre? Do you have a specific genre you’d wanna score going ahead?
David Buckley: I mean, I think I sort of fell into scoring action because I don’t think I like my sort of background either in terms of as a sort of cinema. Film consumer, you know, just someone who watches films or is always on my side, but I don’t necessarily know if it was would have meant that the outcry would have ended up scoring action or thrillers and stuff like that.
But often, as happens, you know, you there’s a meeting and something happened. Someone says, oh, can you do this? You know, it’s this sort of quirk of fate. It wasn’t there was no sort of predetermination on my part.
You know, I enjoy variety in my scoring career, and I just finished up up until the last week, I was working on a very, very, very tiny film I’ve ever worked on, actually called Trees of Peace, which is a film about the Rwandan genocide. And it’s not an action film. I mean, there’s violence in it, as you might expect, of that nature. But it’s not there’s no car chases, no explosions and.
And, you know, I work on some television, which, you know, which is I would call sort of drama, a big show in the US called The Good Fight. And so for me, it’s not it’s not I don’t think I do very well. If all I had to do if all I was hired to do was just action films or if I was just hired to do comedy, which I’ve done a whole lot of. But it really is.
You know, the old cliche variety is the spice of life, I think I like moving in and sort of finding different musical muscles for moving from different genres. Broadly speaking, though, if you were to give a definitive answer your question, I think that the thing that appeals to me, the movies that I am drawn to, that I watch made by other people tend to be dramas. I think I’m a sort of I’m a sucker for dramas and quite serious films, actually, I think.
But even with with like with the town or with Jason Bourne or with Angels has fallen or the Town, you know, I, I try and see them not just as action movies and I try and think, well, there’s action within them, but I also try and find the emotional core of time, I think. I mean, I can’t there must be some films where it’s all literally about kinetic frenzy and just like action, action, action, action.
And I yeah, that wouldn’t really appeal to me is either viewer or contributor to the process I always want to find, even if you know that there’s going to be some huge set pieces and you’re going to be affected by exposure and everything like that, I still want to know musically what what I can do in the emotional sphere.
Q. Ludwig Göransson mentioned how he scored Tenet while in Pandemic. So was it the same for you scoring Nobody?
David Buckley: So when I had that meeting last this time last year and I was talking to Ilya, like I say, we don’t talk. We don’t really know what we’re talking about. But I think we even at that stage, we were very sure that this wasn’t going to be a school that required a significant amount of orchestra. It felt like more of a kind of guitar, keyboards, drums, sense percussion. It felt like there was no there was nothing that sort of when I read the script that came off the page sort of setting, you know, lush, exciting symphonic music, it just wasn’t one of those projects.
I mean, why should it be? I mean, why should every project why should one immediately assume that an orchestra I mean, yeah, back in the 1940s, 1950s, 30s, you would have that would have been the pallet. I mean, there was no other real Pallett of it available. It was orchestra was what? So we’d already had this idea that this was going to be a sort of smaller kind of, I would say band, but sort of individual instruments.
And it actually turned out to be quite a good thing because I went to Canada to spot the movie with the filmmakers in February. Pretty much when I returned to Europe. The reality of covid kicked in and I jeez, I’m not going to be; had this needed to be an orchestral score, this is going to prove quite challenging. And then the film sort of went on a little bit of a hiatus. It didn’t know because of the pandemic. It didn’t know when to finish. And then there was a sudden let’s finish this movie, let’s get this done.
And I think they realized probably because, for example, I didn’t need an orchestra, this was actually a feasible task. Universal probably had some other movies going where it’s like, you know, they may need 70 piece orchestra. That’s going to be a problem in post-production. In a sense, because of our musical choices.
We didn’t have we weren’t going to hold up proceedings.So I recorded a lot of great musicians all around the world, you know, really tested things like, you know, Zoom recordings and, you know, just a channel of communication. And it really put the sort of notion of a global digital community. And I really put it through its paces. But, you know, it was fantastic that it could be done.
And yet, I mean, like I mean, I don’t know what the process was, but I would write everything in my studio. I’d send out a part to a guitarist apart to a drummer. They’d listen to it. We’d speak to each other like you and I are. Then I would say, go ahead and record.
I didn’t really want to sort of sit over their shoulder. They’d send me a recording back. I’d say, oh, could you just do it more like this?
I but started to go build up this sort of collage of all these different elements and. Ultimately, that is the school I mean, I was not going to say that that’s a perfect scenario because. There is.
As you can imagine, the collaboration and the sort of nuance that you get when you sit in a room with a plan, whether it’s one player or an orchestra, it’s not about luxuriating in sitting in big concert halls anymore than it really is about. That those sort of things that you can’t say with words or understand with words like a look in someone’s eye or, you know, someone might just play in a certain kind of way.
And it’s hard to sort of, you know, to sort of recap that sometimes over a digital platform.
So, yeah, I mean, I think everyone in all parts of filmmaking and in all parts of other professions as well has realized that one can do things. Now that we’ve really put it to the test, we can do things that we kind of knew we might be able to. But now we’ve actually gone ahead and done it and we’ve spent nine months, 10 months doing it. And we don’t quite know what the future will be. But probably ultimately, if we can get a vaccine and we can all start being in rooms with each other to some extent, I think some of that magic that I was describing would be more.
Sort of catchable, more containable and easier to find, but nevertheless, I’ve done this film happen to another film I did this summer called Unhinged Movie- Russell Crowe, similar thing, know, done my studio and have meetings with directors and producers online and all that kind of stuff.
Q. To add to the previous question, was it the same for Greenland’s score?
David Buckley: I had finished the score at the very beginning of the year and I actually managed to I went to Poland to record the orchestra and in probably the third week of January.
So really for Europe at this point, the pandemic didn’t really look anything like, you know, no one really took it seriously back then. So, I mean, I went to Poland without a second thought that there’d be any you know, I didn’t dream for how the rest of it was going to turn out.
So the only problem with Greenland that they had was that they got to the double stage and I come away with it, maybe one of the big stages in Los Angeles. And they would they knew that that man is going to shut a city down. I mean, there was a big you know, said L.A. is going to stop.
People are going to stop working. And they were sitting on this stage with sort of half a real the end of the movie left to finalize. And they were racing against the clock, just willing that they could get it done and they could they just couldn’t make it. They have to shut down and then come back to it later. But I was done by that. I was finished by that point.
Q. You have composed music for both TV and Movies. Do you prefer one over the other?
David Buckley: Um both. That they sort of provide different. Um. Sort of platforms, I think, for them to express themselves, I think ultimately I don’t change as a composer. I’m still whatever I sensibilities I may have or influences I may have or anything, you know, that I don’t kind of wear one. That’s what I’m in television and film.
But what I would say is. As is probably often communicated to. You know, by composers to people who do both. Is it the TV schedule is just gruelling by comparison to film? I mean, you know, when you’re especially if you don’t have network television, it’s. Producing a score a week, and that is I mean, it is exhausting. I mean, it’s tiring because you go to the it’s a bit you know, it’s a bit like when you’re at school, you you you finish a semester and then you take a sort of breath.
Then you have a couple of week’s holiday. And that’s like with a movie. I mean, if you’re lucky, you might score two or three movies a year or two or three semesters a year. And if you’re lucky, they won’t completely overlap with each other. You’ll finish one and you just be able to decompress.
Say hello to your family, say hello to your doctor who probably won’t see you and make sure that you’re not completely ruining yourself.
But with TV, that that decompression is you’ve got one night, you know, when you kind of think, oh, you have got out on that next morning. What’s the next episode? And I think there’s some proposals for that reason. I just don’t want to do TV. I just I mean, I think it’s I think it’s more attractive now with with sort of streaming schedules, which often insert more time and it’s a bit more and a bit more humane.
But, you know, I know there’s a very prestigious I mean, it’s you know, you look at some big name composers and you don’t see them necessarily doing television. I think. I mean, I enjoy, again, going back to that sort of variety, you know, having a bit of this and a bit of that for me, it’s great. I mean, I you know, I’m not one of those composers who does 12 TV shows on top of each other.I don’t either. People do that. Good luck to them. They are probably making more money than I could dream of. But it doesn’t seem like a life that I could be I could participate in. And so for me, having a sort of quality TV show you a decent movie to work on. I think, again, it keeps all the different muscles kind of in check and yeah, I don’t think I can put my hand on heart and say I prefer doing one to the other.
I think it’s I think it’s all just become a part of what I do and I don’t want to, you know, don’t want to jinx it by saying I should do more of one or more the other because I know I might end up doing. But none of nothing but all.
Q. Since we are speaking about Films, what was it like for you growing up? What was the inspiration behind taking up Composing?
David Buckley: Well, I think unlike I don’t think I ever necessarily fell in love with movie music, although, you know, having not worked in this profession for.
Yes, coming up to 20 years, I now know a lot of my fellow composers, I’m aware of that work and, you know, I heard in movies and like going to concerts in where it’s been performed, but I wasn’t one of those composers who said I’m.
You know, as a youngster, the I I love John Williams and I want to follow in his footsteps. I mean, I did watch Star Wars and I did love everything about it. Funnily enough, I think I remember so many composers talk about watching Star Wars and kind of just that was there. That was a lightning light bulb moment because of the music I had. You can very clearly remember, I think it was Empire Strikes Back. I actually slavishly. On the video tape was I actually wrote the dialogue, all I can remember sitting that know, hearing a couple of lines, pausing, I was pretty young.
So some of it it wasn’t like I had a great grasp of the English language at this point. So I remember painstakingly trying to write the script at the Empire Strikes Back. I’m not saying that I’m a script writer who I’m not saying that that’s the case. But that was I don’t think that was one interest I had.
But I mean, I can remember a couple of films. I remember as a child, the mission, the Ennio Morricone score, blowing my mind. But I think in a way that’s because it sort of also sounded a bit like Bach. And I’ve always been fascinated with early music. I mean, I’m not saying sounds like Bach, but there’s a sort of baroque kind of through line to some of the to the oboe reality, for example.
And then I think there were just two things that happened for me on a on a musical level, not really connected with film. Well, they were connected. But as we as a participant, one is that as a kid, I sang on the soundtrack to The Last Temptation of Christ, Scorsese film.
And so that must have been, you know, that planted a seed for somewhere down the road that I wouldn’t even say to you then that I thought, oh, now I know what I want to do in my life. But I think it left some kind of foundation which later years I was built on.
And there was also like a lot to work in with a composer who he was a film, is a film school composer, wasn’t actually a film school. It was a it was a classical piece of music. But I would say very cinematic in style piece called The Play and Move written by you become a very good friend of mine, now Richard Harvey.
And I think both those things kind of opened my mind to a world that was different to the classical music that I was brought up with. And it made me realize that music can have an application beyond just being music itself, that you can synthesize it with picture and it becomes this new organism.
And then, you know, I think as a kid, I probably wasn’t, you know, I am. But what you eat and, you know, Raiders of the Lost Ark, also classic films of kids would see.
I mean, I probably didn’t really turn into the sort of film buff that I think I know, and until I moved to Los Angeles 15, 14 years ago and I think I. You know, I always watched film before that, but I think I’ve become a really avid reader of films after that. So, yeah, I mean, a long, long answer to that question. I think it was my participation in it, specifically the Last Temptation of Christ, where I kind of look in hindsight, of course, that’s where it all began.
Q. You mentioned Last Temptation of Christ, so would you accept an offer to score a Martin Scorsese film?
David Buckley: Yes, of course. I think well, he doesn’t really have many composers, does he? I think I would my agent would think I was a lunatic if I was to turn down a Scorsese a movie. No, I mean, I you know, like I say with this Rwandan film that I just did, it was.
I’m very happy to be one of the things that TV does, so we’re going back to the previous question our TV affords you. A little bit more, because, you know, you have quite a lot of episodes and they pay per episode.
I often think that if I as a result of having a reasonably secure financial outlay because of like doing a TV show, it means I can take on a film which has very little money but might artistically be very important to me.
And there’s very little that my agents ever said to me. Are you interested in this? It’s not to say that I’m going to get the job. But, you know, the point is, do you what do you want to read the script? Do you want to send some music? And my general outlook is, why not? Who knows? I mean, you know, and if it happens, you know, if it was Scorsese or Spielberg asking you that, I would put a first class standpoint.
Q. Do you have any future projects lined up which you’d like to share with us and your fans ?
David Buckley: Well, I have the good fight, which you just mentioned, which will be a new series starting in the New Year, another show written and created by the same people, Robert Michel King called Evil, which I don’t know how widely known that is, but I think it’s really good, very, very good.
I’m quite critical of things I do. So if I say something, if I say I think something is good that I worked on, then I said probably quite a good endorsement.
And then the same director that I did Greenland for, we’re doing a movie he’s just about to start shooting called Khandahar, which is going to be set in the Middle East with General Butler again.
That would be the third film I’ve done with Gerard Butler and the third film with the same director. I don’t know. I don’t I don’t know what that means. We got a we get a half or something at the end at the end of it. But that will be another that’ll be an action movie.
But I think it will be. And it will be quite interesting because I have it’s not something I’ve done before sort of using Middle Eastern kind of instrumentation and some sounds, but, you know, lots of people have done that. I mean, The Last Temptation of Christ did that up. The question for me in the year 2021. What can I do with Middle Eastern instruments and an action film that doesn’t sound like what’s been done before? I have no idea what the answer is to that.
And then there’s a Netflix show, which I’ve just signed up to do, could stay closed. And there’s one other thing that I haven’t signed on the dotted line yet, so I’m going to keep it. And it’s another TV show which looks quite cool based on quite well, based on a very famous book and the movie. But I wouldn’t say in case it falls apart.
So yeah, I’ve got sort of three shows and this Khandahar movie, which I have to say, I consider myself extremely fortunate to have that lined up, you know, so close to, well, this pandemic, obviously existence. And it’s it’s taken a devastating effect on post-production because. Now that movies, movies haven’t been able to shoot mostly for TV shows for six months and composes pretty much the last thing in the on the conveyor belt. So, you know, I do know some colleagues, talented colleagues who are sort of thinking, Christ, whereas when are we going to get back to doing what we do?
So, yeah, but I consider myself extremely fortunate to have the work lined up that I do. And I’m hoping everyone gets back to some sort of normalcy soon as well.
Q. The Movie Culture is situated in India and since Bollywood is a hub of producing major Music we’d like to know how you feel about the Bollywood Music? Since they are literally 2-3 minutes of Music Video our films have.
David Buckley: Yeah, as I mentioned, my grandfather was Indian. Yeah. And unfortunately, he married an English woman.
And so we sort of I sort of come to India, although I was due to I was going to take my mom to India last April. It’s going to be the first time I’ve been there. She’s been that quite well, quite a bit. But I’ve always had an affinity with Indian music. I mean, I remember as a child with my grandfathers and there’d be a toddler playing harmonium, sitar player sometimes coming over on a Sunday afternoon and just playing. I have definitely watched chunk of Bollywood films with these set pieces.
But I definitely am fully aware that that sort of yeah, I mean, it’s sort of, you know, back back in the day, movies and Western movies were often like that, where all of a sudden I had to break into song. They’d a whole set of things. I mean, that’s sort of fallen out of favor. I don’t know when because in the 50s or something like that was more sort of gritty realism came into filmmaking, but.
It’s interesting, I mean, I’m having a pandemic willing I’m hoping to come over to India this next year, and I’d love to I’d love to sort of put my nose into the sort of the Bollywood studio system. And you can see sort of how, you know, film coming together and the music. I mean, obviously, Rahman, Slumdog Millionaire.
Q. There’s a whole lot of competition in the industry, do you have any piece of advice which you’d like to share with aspiring composers out there?
David Buckley: I should know the answer to this by now, because I have answered a few times, but. I think, uh, I think there’s two sort of two strands of development that I think a composer can work on. One is sort of.
The very reason that they loved music in the first place, never mind film scoring, but just why they love music, what made them pick up that guitar or that sitar or whatever it was or singing whatever turned them on to music, never sort of losing a grip on that and always developing that in a way that, you know, could ultimately be the thing that kind of singles you out from that person or that person or that person.
It’s trusting your sort of musical inspirations, your heritage, your loves and.
Ultimately, I suppose that’s what’s, what’s the notion of finding one’s voice, which I think anyone, any creative person spends a lifetime trying to do? I mean, I’m probably. Possibly we never find it in any case, possibly it’s it’s a sort of it’s a quest as opposed to an arrival. Well, you know, I think, you know, certainly I’m still well on that path to trying to find it.
But I think, you know, as I’ve grown up a little bit and I’ve become a bit more mature, you know, but as a person and as a musician, you know, I do get a few more telephone calls now because someone is interested in something I’ve done rather than just saying, is anyone available? I download just a little bit more. Oh, we quite liked what he did on such and such. Could we talk to him? And that’s obviously a very nice thing.
I mean, I don’t get as much as that is John Williams or Danny Elfman or Hans Zimmer. I get comparatively little of that, but even a little bit is quite sort of rewarding. So that is has to be a sort of a front runner for anyone and creatively in the composition world.
I also think there’s also. You need to be. That’s all very artistic. I think there’s also a much more sort of feet on the ground reality based approach, which is you’ve got to be resilient. Someone tells you that they are like something. You’ve got to be able to quickly turn it around and not take offense.
I think you’ve also got to know current trends, because the likelihood is when you start, unless you’re like in a band or just extremely fortunate, you’re more likely. You know, my first couple of schools sounded like my old. Boss Harry Gregson Williams, I mean, I was hired simply because they didn’t have enough money to pay him and and I would say, yes, anything at the time, and they would they would much rather fight him.
But they got sort of a cheap version with me. So but, you know, I wasn’t going to be too proud and say, no, I’m going to give you what what what you should be. You know, I want to tell you what you said. I was too young to you know, I had to toe the party line.
And I think it’s, you know, as you as you continue your career, you want to move away from sort of feeling that you’ve been put in a box and that people think that that’s who you are and moving more towards being a little bit more feeling that you’re on the same level as a filmmaker and then say, hey, you know, we really we think we’d like a school that sounds like a rival. But you have you had some very movie buildings go up. I want to, but I’d like to try and say, no, you don’t want that.
That was a school for a specific movie. Well, I think you mean by that is you just want something cool. But let’s leave it at that. And but that takes a lot of time. So I think you need to have those sort of concurrent personality traits. One is that act of, of sort of individualism based on your. Musical DNA, and the second one is just like a good, solid person who can just get something done proficiently on time, on budget, and you might think that the two sort of feel like a weird coexistence.
But, I personally believe that sort of how I got as far as I’d got. I mean, maybe I could have gone further, like. Looked at it differently, but I think it’s a I think it’s a combination of of making sure that studios are very worried.
Organizations like a lot of money riding on these projects. You know, you can always just go in there and say, hey, I’m going to do something f***ing crazy because. That may not be what they’re looking for at the same time, you don’t want to be the guy you just known is doing the same old stuff all the time and doesn’t have any kind of, um, you know, sense of spark and and wanting, you know, whether you succeed, not even wanting to try and be original to difficult things to.
To break, there is no easy answer to any of this. It’s not like, you know, how do you become somebody say, oh, we’ll buy this piece of software and listen to this piece of music and you’ll be up in a way it’s more kind of more complicated, nuanced than that. But, um, for my part, those two things I just described, I think are important to hear that voice in your head and then figure out the time when it’s applicable.
If you’re scoring, you know, a dumb comedy film, can you get away with it being using that inner voice or do you probably have to do something a little bit more conventional if you’re scoring some awesome film and it’s just mind blowing, that’s the time to kind of say, hey, guys, let me be me.
The Movie Culture Synopsis: David Buckley
It was one memorable Interview for the most fact that David Buckley didn’t hold back and gave us an incredible peak into his life as a film composer with the obvious information on Nobody.
David Buckley’s love for Last Temptation of Christ is every Martin Scorsese fan ever and his remarks on aspiring artists is hard hitting reality check with also poignant tips.
With the way David Buckley spoke about Nobody’s score and the film in general has our interest peaked for the Movie. His other works such as The Good Fight and Kandahar also looks promising.
Nobody is set for Feb 21st 2021 release date. Follow this space for more updates.