Published: 03/11/2014 10:00 - Updated: 03/11/2014 15:39

Bond producers gave Alastair licence to score

Alastair Caplin
Alastair Caplin

THE setting of this year’s Inverness Film Festival opening night movie, The Silent Storm, is one that soundtrack composer Alastair Caplin finds familiar.

Set on an unnamed Scottish island, but filmed on Mull, it stars Homeland’s Damian Lewis as a stern Prestyerian minister, whose mood swings are placing a strain on his marriage to his wife Aislin (Andrea Riseborough).

For Caplin, it is not so very different from his family’s home island of Lewis.

"The feeling of the oppressive nature of the Church rings so true to my experiences of Lewis, and I swear that some of the lines spoken by the minister have been taken right out of some childhood memories," he said.

"On a more positive side, the island and its wild beauty really feature as another character in its own right, and that is something that resonates massively for me."

This is the first composing credit for fiddle player Caplin, and one that fulfils a long held ambition.

"For me it is one of the most exciting branches of music; the tools that you have at your disposal far exceed what you can get away with using in other forms," he said.

Caplin has one enormous stroke of luck for his first soundtrack commission.

He was sitting in his favourite London cafe when a friend walked in with Silent Storm director Corinna McFarlane to talk over ideas for the score.

"I played Corinna a couple of tracks of my solo music, and there and then she said she wanted one of them in the film," he said.

"Things went on from there and I ended up writing the whole score, and my friend Kat Darke, who introduced us, ended up singing the title theme as well

"Music had played a large part in Corinna’s process of writing the script, and she had several tracks that she had been drawn to, quite literally from all corners of the musical spectrum.

"A lot of the music she had been listening to was heavily choral, and with Damien Lewis was playing an oppressive minister, we decided to make the most of a wonderful choir called The Joyful Company of Singers. I had introduced Corinna to Gaelic Psalm singing quite early on in the process and there are heavy influences of it throughout.

"There’s also a strong element of traditional music in the instrumental score, but we were always very conscious not to let it stray into the realm of the twee."

Unlikely as it may be for a film that centres on the life of a grim Presbyterian minister, The Silent Storm’s producers include Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson, better known for producing the Bond films.

For the majority of the edit, Caplin set up his studio in the screening room of Eon House, the UK home of the 007 films.

Damian Lewis stars in 'The Silent Storm'.
Damian Lewis stars in 'The Silent Storm'.

"All the while that I was working there the atmosphere was thick with the very impressive heritage around that franchise," he said.

"I had been quite nervous about meeting Barbara and Michael and though the aura of impressive control was intense around them, they were incredibly genial and kind. It felt very special to have them sitting in front of my monitors taking such an interest in my work."

Now Caplin’s dream is to find a happy balance between playing live and writing for film.

"Playing music live is always going to be a big part of my musical life," he said.

"I’ve been playing with my main trio, The John Langan Band, for nearly eight years and there are certainly no plans to stop and I’m also in the middle of writing a solo album.

"Film music is absolutely something that I want to pursue though. The satisfaction of hearing your own music in a cinema playing to hundreds of people is immense."

The Silent Storm opens the 2014 Inverness Film Festival at 7pm on Wednesday 5th November.

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