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Film Composition: What I Do
Film Composition

Olga - Here and Now



In 1978 a film student studying at The Australian Film & Television School shot a film about an aboriginal woman called Olga Collis who lived in Bourke in the far west of NSW and worked for the NSW Health Commission. Bourke is a household name in this country, via it’s ‘pseudonym’ “Back’O’Bourke” as a “remote or backward place


The film “Olga”details the cross-cultural challenges of implanting health care in remote communities. I had the privilege to write the music for this film - only 11 years after the 1967 inclusion of indigenous Australians in the census.


In March 2019 somebody suggested making a sequel. I could write the music. This idea germinated. In June I managed to find Olga who was living in Bourke and we spoke by phone after over 40 years since the making of the original film. I suggested that a friend and I could drive out to Bourke and shoot a second film about Olga. 


This film would be aimed at educating a vernacular audience about indigenous affairs in the 21st Century. Olga, now in her early 70s and a great-grandmother many times over, agreed instantly. She is particularly keen to affiliate the result with Aboriginal Mental Health programmes.

The film was shot August 17th to 21st 2019 primarily in and around Bourke, Dubbo and Goodooga. As the story line evolves from existing footage, we may identify gaps in the timeline and might return to the interior to capture more footage.  


Opening Scenes - The idea of tying in Olga circling for the (Gimbal) camera with the circles of Bourke’s (redundant but still splendid) ‘Northy’ (North Bourke) bridge forms. This can be linked to sunrise over distant scrub between Bourke town and Northy. Voice overs and info slides re Olga’s life etcetera can be interspersed.


Ideas, orchestrations and shapes slowly form. Almost as in a daydream, film and music combinations for opening 3 scene(s) have come in fits and starts. 

The outback is arid and dry. This can be reflected via scoring for lots of percussion instruments in general, in combination with lots of very deep, reverberating sounds that shake and shimmer like intense heat in the distance. 

I envisage focusing on an organic ‘sonic score’ approach rather than an exclusively ‘musical’ one, as Foley and audio can be tied in more cohesively. 

The opening sunrise scene seems an obvious opportunity for a long music section emulating didgeridoo vibrations orchestrally from basso profundo tonalities of bass instruments like: Cimbasso, Contrabassoon, Double Bass, and Tuba combined with timpani ostinati underpinning percussive instruments such as maracas, open cymbals recorded both forwards and backwards (i.e. perhaps via Audiosuite in ProTools), woodblocks, etcetera. 


I plan on having this 5’ opening scene edited by October 7th. Audio, Foley & music ideas are already in mind, but from October 7th will be my main focus. This will give me 3 weeks to come up with some hopefully truly impactful music for that scene. I hope to have a finished film by early 2020.

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