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Kalla - The Choir

Portraying nature communicating with the characters via a ghostly choir of Gwen’s ancestors was perhaps slightly ambitious for a project that failed to get a single penny in funding. We cracked on anyway and I asked lots of ludicrously talented friends if they wanted to be involved and started planning.

Jay Newton, who has worked with us on Imperfect Orchestra projects, helped me and Tom Richardson put the plan together for how the choir would work, this was a case of applying a melody of sorts to the things I needed the choir to say, and I am always a little awed watching musical ideas coming into fruition by people that have a greater grasp of theory than myself. Logic mixed with knowledge & emotion through some ethereal process to a magical creation. We had a few beers and got the work done.

Filming took place at our rehearsal space, a simple set up with the camera on a tripod and the choir lined up against a black wall. At this point I wasn’t sure if I needed to use the audio captured on the day or if I could effectively dub it later, so Jack Harris was there with condenser mics set up, just in case, and Christian Attree on the camera, and Chris Bailey in AD role helped with creative suggestions and technical options as we got everyone in their robes and started running through the parts.

The choir was made up of Tom Richardson, Grace Lightman, Angelique Kergosien, Jon Fazal & me. We filmed as a group a few times, ensuring to get a few ideas down. Then we moved onto the single shots of the individual singers doing their parts, I think I pushed a little hard here and captured too much footage and ran the group into the ground a bit. I should have had a clearer idea of what I wanted from the singles; everyone was very gracious with me, but lesson learned.

Once I got the footage into the computer, I realised I did need to capture the audio separately, but luckily everyone was kind enough to offer me even more of their time to record their parts, either at our studio or at their houses in their own home studios. This meant guiding them through the singing whilst watching the visuals, I feel like I would like to know more about how to do this better and more efficiently in the future as it was far from an exact science.

I was a bit overwhelmed by what I ended up, and the idea of turning it into a cohesive scene that communicates to the audience what is happening to Gwen onscreen did worry me - I would need to wrestle with that in the edit (or as I like to refer to it, emotional purgatory where hope goes to die), but for now it was time to turn attention to the score and sound design that Tom had been working on, and that was far more exciting.

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