Student Filmmakers Magazine spots Tony Halliwell and his music posts in the StudentFilmmakers.com online community network. Since online interaction in the creative community is in the good spirit of quality networking, Student Filmmakers decides to take five for a fun chat with Tony.
Tony Halliwell is a young and upcoming film, TV and video game music composer from the United Kingdom, with a Distinction-class Masters of Music in Composition degree under the University of Southampton. As a successful creative artist living with psychological moodswings, Halliwell has spent the majority of his life cultivating a deep, vibrant musical palette, overstepping all categorical definitions of ‘genre’ and ‘style’ to imbue his work with a unique craftsmanship based solely on the relationship between sound and emotion.
He covers a multitude of recognisable stylistic idioms – sometimes in one piece – and does so with scintillating grace and delicate touch. His film music suite / EP ‘Paper Planets’, for example, introduces itself as a spacious, floating kind of orchestral mist in Part I, and concludes with an electrifying fireworks display of Dubstep-infused beats in Part V.
Halliwell is a locally-recognised upcoming musician in both the live UK music circuit and various film circles, acquiring hugely generous and valuable mentorship from the likes of Rupert Gregson-Williams (composer, ‘Wonder Woman’) and Steven Price (composer, ‘Gravity’).
How did composing music become a career for you?
Tony Halliwell: Great question! I’m still relatively new (at 23 years old), and from my experience, it’s a long, slow, gradual burn to begin earning commercially from composing music – maybe even directing films, too. I was always completely besotted with sound and sight. I’d wander off in elementary school (sometimes during class) to follow the echoing sound and flitting shadows of a bird outside the window! So, I guess those obsessions with sound and sight became music and cinema over time, and I kept those loves as my only true loves besides family and friends. It’s a dedication to give your life to creation – sometimes a painful, tribulating and soul-searching one. But I knew from the start there was nothing else I loved more or wanted to do for a living more than create and explore music with accompanying sights – almost like I’m giving back to the things that fascinated me, by creating some of my own material. I don’t feel like I’m working – I’m answering a calling, if you will. A graduation led to a phone call, which led to a few student projects, then an international internship deal, then L.A. based mentoring. It’s still going! But it all happens very slowly.
What technologies, software and gear, as well as instruments do you use to compose your music?
Tony Halliwell: I’ve seen so many young composers with their fancy monitors and setup. Hundreds of instruments too. I have a MacBook Pro with Logic Pro and a couple of Spitfire sample packs, an old Shure microphone, and a Fender stratocaster electric guitar – that’s it. I don’t believe big equipment equals a big sound. I believe that keeping your technologies really sparse can challenge your inner producer-composer to make things sound professional and make things happen in more uncommon or interesting ways.
What are some of your thoughts on the relationship between music and moving images?
Tony Halliwell: At the moment, I feel like moving images – for a feature film, anyway – provide information; not just factual, but emotional information. This means we are informed about what/why/where/how etc. and also where that might hit the emotions (eg. through facial expressions) for onscreen characters, situations, and importantly, us as the audience. The music joins the dance, if you will, and suddenly meaning is involved. Why does it matter that Katy just found that old bracelet? What’s she feeling inside, beyond the wide eyes? Is she… alright? Are us audience members alright with this? The music will ideally help us locate our own individual answers to these questions by providing the meaning… the gentle (or forceful) insinuation which gives visual information its personality. I think visuals power the brain and music causes the heart to kick in simultaneously. That’s just my take on it – I’m sure there are many examples out there to contradict this!
Can you share a quick tip for young filmmakers on collaborating with composers?
Tony Halliwell: Yes – reach out on sites… www.studentfilmmakers.com! We’re out there. You could Google ‘young / graduate / upcoming / affordable music composers’ and thoroughly search for forums, portals etc. Find out what the best schools are in your country / state for training music composers and write the office a bespoke email enquiry. Especially in lockdown, this stuff doesn’t just HAPPEN. You’ve got to really apply a conscious effort, I reckon. I’m still trying!
See what kinds of projects Tony Halliwell is working on next! Visit his website at www.tonyhalliwellmusic.com.
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