Scots composer responsible for Batman and Terminator soundtracks returns to UK as part of Into Film festival
HOLLYWOOD composer Lorne Balfe is back in the UK to pass on his wisdom as part of the Into Film festival, where he hopes to teach youngsters what it takes to work with Tinsel Town's A-listers
YOU Might not have heard the name Lorne Balfe but you’ll definitely have heard his music.
If you are a lover of comedy aliens, vicious death robots or Scottish serial drama, you’re probably already a fan.
The Scottish musician and composer has just enjoyed his busiest ever working period, providing jolly tunes to family animations such as Home and The Penguins of Madagascar, then scoring the blockbuster Terminator: Genisys.
Lorne, 39, first got his break composing the theme tune to River City, and he has since reached the A-list of movie music makers. This has allowed him to work with top directors like Ron Howard and Christopher Nolan, as well as creating videogame soundtracks for Skylanders and Assassin’s Creed.
But he remembers the days growing up in Inverness, when working in Hollywood seemed as realistic a prospect as meeting a time travelling cyborg.
That’s is why he is delighted to be taking part in Into Film, a new UK-wide film festival aimed at encouraging and educating kids with an interest in cinema.
Lorne said: “When I was young, the concept of anything to do with film really was hard to imagine. I had to run away to Los Angeles, but now you don’t need to do that in terms of accessibility.
“I heard about Into Film a year ago and it’s a very advanced and respected festival for young people.
“It’s a easier now, but is still hard to get into film and I’m looking forward to talk to young people interested in it.
“There’s no straightforward way of getting into the arts. If you want to be a surgeon or a lawyer, you can see the path to get there.
“But I was always told that if you want to be into music, it’s probably not going to happen because we look at the arts like it’s not a safe profession.
“The best advice was, ‘Just go for it’. No matter what, if you have a passion for something, just go for it.”
After spending his youth dreaming of Top of the Pops, Lorne got into the world of soundtracks when BBC Scotland announced they were launching a soap.
He knew he had to go for it, and said that having his few seconds of catchy pop music on the TV every week in his homeland is still a delight.
Lorne said: “As a child I just liked music. I didn’t know what film music was.
“Later on I became aware of how music in a film was used to tell a story and I thought that was something I would like to be a part of. I then aimed for doing the theme for River City, and I nailed it.
“It was my break, I fought tooth and nail for that project and I wrote about 20 different themes before it worked.
“Whenever I’m back in Scotland I watch the show. I love it. There was negativity when it started, but it’s great to have something that has its own identity.”
He has worked alongside legendary Hollywood composer Hans Zimmer for years, and has been a part of some of the biggest recent movies.
Lorne’s musical and production work has featured on the soundtracks Iron Man, Inception, The Dark Knight, and Captain Phillips.
As a composer, his creations have appeared on films as diverse as Home (the Dreamworks animation about a friendly invading alien), The Sweeney remake, Penguins of Madagascar and Scots indie romcom Not Another Happy Ending.
But the biggest movie on his CV is this year’s big-budget blockbuster Terminator Genisys.
While he didn’t set foot on set, he said working on the iconic franchise was an amazing experience.
Lorne said: “My life is not that exciting. I wish I’d got to do lots of things but I spend most of my time in my studio writing. If you want to get into celebrity-spotting and party-hopping, don’t get into film composing, but it’s great to be part of that family.
“I remember watching T2 as a child. You just grin when you are working on something like this.
“What Terminator has that none of my other films had is a legacy. The fear starts in the beginning and then it goes, and you treat it no differently than if it was a BBC drama.
“Near the end of the project you realise you’re sitting at a keyboard looking at the screen with Arnold saying, ‘I’ll be back.’ Then it hits you.”
He was also delighted to get his hand on the iconic signature thumping score, made famous in the first two movies.
He said: “You start being aware of what the fans want to hear.
“That piece of music is part of the language now. People make jokes about it and use it in conversation.
“Ironically the last couple of films hadn’t been using it. I think the main reason is the fact they had moved on storywise so they didn’t think it had to relate to it but to us it was obvious.
“Arnold is on the screen, he is kicking ass, so we’re going to go for it.
“We knew at certain points of the film we were going to go to the famous duh-duh duh duh-duh.
“The film had some negative reviews and it’s a shame but I think so many of the hardcore fans loved it. That’s what the film is – escapism and a break from reality for two hours.”
He is still busy working on an ever-expanding list of film and TV projects, and Lorne said while he has no plan of attack when it comes to picking projects, he likes to keep them diverse.
For his part of Into Film he will hold a chat with young people in London after a screening of Home.
Lorne said: “I never think if I want to do a comedy or a horror, it’s just about trying to keep learning. At
the moment I am working on two films and a video game, there’s no difference as long as it’s fun.
“A lot of it is about being kind of a therapist because you are trying to translate what is in a director’s head onto the screen.
“That takes time to learn and you keep learning. That’s one of my reasons I am so interested in education so I’m looking forward to being part of Into Film.”