Music & Film Students Collaborate on a Thrilling Film Production

Posted by Dee Cunning on 5/7/2020 in Student work

A soundtrack to success

Incredible things happen when our music and film schools combine their talents. Case in point: a recent collaboration on a short film score between Film Production student Li Wallis and Electronic Music Production & Performance student Francisco Morel.

At Catalyst, our recipe for success has a unique ingredients list: Diversity, creativity, passion, curiosity, challenge, empathy and leadership, with a bucketload of collaboration in the mix.

Because our courses in music, film, visual effects and acting aren’t just complementary; in today’s creative world, you rarely have one art form without the other. From our Studio Sessions series to performance initiatives, music videos to original film scores, some of our students’ most magical creations are born out of teamwork!

One such success story is a recent collaboration for Logan’s Will – a thrilling short film directed and written by Film Production students Li Wallis and Orri Starrason respectively, and starring Screen Acting students Juan Hurtado Bergeth, Josefina Lindvall, Angel Quel and Hekla Aradottir. When tasked to direct the film, Li knew that an exceptional score would be essential in setting the desired tone.

In fact, if you want to understand the importance of sound in eliciting emotion in film, you need only rewatch your favourite movie. That memorable scene that never fails to quicken your heartbeat was undoubtedly amplified by just the right music. And when it came to the Logan’s Will project, Electronic Music Production & Performance student Francisco Morel’s sound turned out to be pitch perfect.

Stronger together

Li and Francisco connected at a workshop between music, film and visual effects students – a community networking event that aimed to strengthen collaboration between the two schools.

“We discussed several ways this interaction between courses could happen,” explains Francisco, who has always had an interest in film scoring. “It turned out to be a showcase night with film reels and music projects – sort of an Oscar ceremony. This was followed by an open-floor group meet-up, so that you could already target who you wanted to move forward with in order to collaborate, and also get an idea of the styles, genres, and so on. The meeting ended up with, ‘sure I will send some links of interest’ and I shared with Li my music portfolio which already had some sketches for films.”

Little did Li and Francisco know at this early stage that they had likewise connected with one of the most driven students of their respective courses.

A formidable duo

With a background in documentary photography, videography and consultancy, Li has recently brought her astute creative mind to the television and filmmaking world. “I have a very particular visual style: dark, menacing, foreboding; a subdued color palette matched with slow and deliberate camera movements and shallow depth of field,” she tells us. “I need the actors to naturally carry the story, rather than the other way around. Basically, I aim to be an ‘actor’s director’.”

As a child, Francisco spent a lot of time with his father who did post-production for music concerts and television. The sonic apple didn’t fall far from the tree. “After almost 10 years of dedicating myself to working on related projects, finally I decided to go after my dream which is to become a music producer, to live by music and hopefully share it with the world,” says Francisco, who breathes ambition like fire from a dragon.

A shared vision

Li was immediately impressed by Francisco’s ‘Beyond the Darkness’ sound palette (above) and asked him if he could create the score for Logan’s Will. “Of all the musicians I met, Francisco is a special case who deserved my full attention,” Li enthuses. “Not only does he create music, but he has a natural sensitivity to what type of sounds evoke certain emotions. He can convey meaning in tones and effects. That is film scoring.”

“After talking to Li, I felt determination, professionalism and trust – values I treasure. So I felt really confident in working with her before she even sent the movie,” Francisco adds. “After she sent it, my assumptions were confirmed and the performance of the actors and the people backstage motivated me even more to score the film.”

Creating under pressure

Far from allowing the Corona crisis to quell their creative flame, Li and Francisco worked non-stop to perfect the score while respecting social distancing measures. “Creating under pressure added a special touch,” Francisco reflects. “Of course I had limitations regarding the gear and equipment I could use from home – just a laptop and a midi keyboard – but I’m very pleased with the result.”

Francisco’s score for Logan’s Will is unsettlingly beautiful, ramping up the suspense factor of the short film – which Li and the writer Orri envision more as a small scene from a much larger feature film.

“The track was built with objects on the kitchen table and a xylophone which became the church bells,” Francisco explains. “I learnt in my tutor Stefan Knauthe’s class that this type of production – compositions made from raw recordings – is called musique concrète. We are constantly encouraged to find the beauty of sound in anything, and so I did. This was my first time trying the technique. I used field recordings of a microwave, spoons falling onto the table, cups, spoons in cups, and so on to create the main sound palette. Then, I added some atmospheric textures beneath for a creepy undertone.”

Just the beginning

Francisco and Li’s effort to forge closer bonds between their music, film, visual effects and acting contemporaries has opened up exciting new possibilities for our creative community.

“It’s been an incredible learning experience,” Francisco says of the Logan’s Will project. “It is always challenging to work on a film and deliver on time. In techno music – or music in general – there are basically no rules. Scoring is a great exercise; you work within certain parameters, with time pressure and motion. It’s alive, and it’s really special.”

Li is currently writing a five-part drama-thriller web series called NothingMan. The ambitious project will be produced with the same crew as Logan’s Will. And, you guessed it: Francisco is scoring it!

Check out the Logan’s Will IMDb page here.

Follow Li Wallis on Instagram.

Follow Francisco Morel on SoundCloud and Instagram.

Interested in how you could unleash your creative potential? Discover our trailblazing music, film and acting courses.

Logan’s Will Full Credits

Directed by Li Wallis

Written by Orri Starrason

Cast: Juan Hurtado Bergeth, Josefina Lindvall, Angel Quel, Hekla Aradottir

Executive Producer: Angel Quel

Assistant Producer: Helena Marinho

Director of Photography: Alfgerour Malmquist

Sound Designer + Boom Operator + Assistant Editor: Orri Starrason

Edited by: Nils Christian Viken

First Assistant Director: Carolina Cardoso

First Assistant Camera: Olesya Fedulova

Second Assistant Camera + Gaffer: Sidney Mandros

Colorist: Maxime Demartin

Set Photographer: Dico Baskoro

Music Score: Francisco Henriquez Morel