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Known in North America as Huge Moves, Impossible Moves, and Mega Moves,  Monster Moves (the original title of the Windfall Films series) is a British-U.S. coproduction above moving Big Things, and perhaps the folly of man in wanting to do the impossible, and figuring out a way to actually accomplish the deed, be it moving a house from one part of Vancouver to another by road and barge, transporting a decommissioned submarine across an ocean to its new owners, or taking a 100+ year old brick building with fragile ventilation conduits and lifting the bloody thing above ground in order to transport it to a new locale on university grounds.

Behind the scenes and part of the show’s success is the music of Daniel Pemberton, the BAFTA-nominated British composer who’s admitted love of composers such as Ennio Morricone have taught him there is no wrong way to score a film – it just needs to support the drama, and be fun.

In our Q&A, Pemberton – whose other best-known work is the music for the videogame LittleBigPlanet and TV shows like Peep Show (2003-2008) – talks about some of the more daring musical choices of the series, as well as what makes the show so special.




Watch out for the airport...




Mark R. Hasan: First the obligatory: how did you become involved in film scoring, and who are some of the composers you admire?

Daniel Pemberton: I started off making abstract electronic music when I was a teenager. I had an album out when I was 16 and I met a director, Paul Wilmshurst, through that. I wrote my first score for him while I was still at school, and we’ve worked together ever since, and now I have too many people to work for.
I like Ennio Morricone a lot, and then also John Barry and the usual suspects that always crop up. Of today’s lot, I like Alexandre Desplat for his elegance and simplicity, Michael Giacchino, and Mark Mothersbaugh.

MRH: I find Monster Moves to be an interesting (albeit unofficial) companion to shows like Building Big, because rather than dealing with the construction of massive projects (such as an obelisk, a suspension bridge), Monster Moves covers the quandaries and different kind of complexities in moving something across unnatural terrains or extreme distances.
That provides a different perspective for the composer, because the focus goes beyond the grandiose; there’s an element of insanity in forcing the impossible and actually pulling it off. Was that one aspect of the show that appealed to you, if not the diverse characters who were determined to realize their extreme goals?

DP: To start with, I wanted to make the music a lot more quirky and unusual. The company that makes the series, Windfall Films, is one of the greatest, truly independent TV producers left in the U.K. They’ve always encouraged me to do whatever I like, and I owe them a lot for that. But there was a run-in with the American co-financers who wanted the music more ‘by the book,’ so it went from being quite wacky to being a bit more straight ‘jeopardy’ music for the first series, which didn’t get me that excited. It wasn’t really until the second series with the songs that I started to have some fun.



MRH: I gather you score the episodes when they’ve been edited, but I assume “Deep Deep Down” was written prior to shooting. I wonder if you could describe how that particular episode (or the church episode, with "Here It Comes") was approached by yourself and the director, because you’ve essentially got an entire town singling as they walk with their homes being transported down a snowy road to the town’s new location, with onscreen captions for the witty lyrics. It’s surreal, funny, and kind of epic, and the sequence is jaw-dropping.
DP: I honestly still can’t believe that has been shown on TV. They were moving a church and the series producer had this crazy idea about doing a big choral song to accompany it with the church’s choir. I played along, not really thinking it would ever happen, especially after we had to tone down anything musically unusual from the first series.

He’d ask, ‘How’s that song going?’ and I’d go, ‘Oh yeah… Erm, it’s coming along… Is it really going to happen then?’ and he’d go, ‘Yeah,’ and I’d not really believe it. But it did, and I wrote the song.

It’s really nuts. It got a mad response when it went out on TV. It’s such a strange unusual piece of TV that we started doing more of them. I actually think it’s a shame there’s not more stuff like that on TV. You can do anything with music; it can be such a powerful tool and it’s so rarely used to its fullest. I think with this it is. It’s crazy, over-the-top, but it definitely makes you smile. (I think you just need to watch the clip. Hearing me talk about it is very boring compared to just seeing it.)

Anyway, what usually happens is I write a theme and talk to the director, and then come up with some sort of phrase for the chorus. Then the crew comes up with a load of verses while they are shooting which I then rework and fit to the song. We then record it, or do a shit demo, and play that when they shoot. We haven’t really got a great system worked out due to budget/time/etc., etc., so it changes each time, depending on the set up.

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