Alex Harwood was nominated for Best Composer in 2011, and scored Satan has a Bushy Tail which screens in the In the Cut: the Best Editor Award programme at Underwire Festival 2015.
What’s your background?
I was classically trained as a composer with an undergrad from the Royal College of Music and a Mmus from The Juilliard School, NY. Having had a previous career in concert and theatre music I then went and got a second MA from the National Film and Television School (NFTS) in composition for film and have been a film composer since I graduated from there.
What was the most important lesson you learned in working on A Tale of Two Cats? What was the biggest challenge?
A Tale of Two Cats was an unusual animation to work on as the music took a primary role in the storytelling, particularly as there was no dialogue. Rather than being a challenge or a lesson, it was just a lovely opportunity and experience to let music have a foreground narrative role. Even when music has this more present role in a film, I still love the art of making sure that silence is part of the score. When used appropriately silence can be as emotionally important, if not more so, than music.
What other female composers inspire you? Or are there any films scores that you’ve seen recently that you’ve really admired?
I am inspired by any film score that is great, be it written by a female or male composer. I think Mica Levi’s score for Under the Skin was inspirational and unique. The most recent film I’ve seen that I think had a truly brilliant score was The Martian, with a score by Harry Gregson Williams.
What was your experience of screening your film in competition at Underwire Festival?
I really enjoyed coming to the Underwire Festival screening and seeing the great variety of films that were screened alongside our film. It was a supportive and friendly group of filmmakers to be amongst.
How important are festival screenings for you as a composer?
I think festival screenings are important in general as short films rarely get any other outlet. As a composer it always makes me proud and happy to know that the films I’ve worked on have screened around the world and have lead to many awards. It means my music lives on with the film and gets heard. That is always a joy to know.
Do you have any advice for composers looking to work in film or TV?
To persevere is the most important advice I can give. It can happen no other way. Secondly is to either be as versatile and knowledgeable in writing any style, or to have one unique and singular voice and hope that directors/producers will only want you for that.
What have you been working on since A Tale of Two Cats? What projects are you working on now?
I have scored over 60 short films to date, since graduating from the NFTS (and I scored A Tale of Two Cats, whilst I was there, even though it was not a NFTS production). Just after I graduated I scored a ballet for Ballet Rambert which was premiered at the Queen Elizabeth Hall. One of my grad films, Z1, won a BIFA award for Best Short. I have scored an animation series Kids Say! that was broadcast in Hong Kong.
Last year I had five films at screen at the Berlin Film Festival, and I scored the short film Dancing in Circles that just won a BAFTA Cymru for Best Short. I have just finished scoring a feature documentary Bronx Lives which is a Singapore/NY production. I have had two documentaries on the BBC in the past and now am currently scoring a BBC documentary series which is presented by Frank Skinner.
It is an honour for me that nearly every single film I’ve ever scored has won awards and screened in festivals worldwide. My website has a lot more information on my work and about me.