Like M, David hopes to return in Bond 23
The 23rd instalment of the Bond series is currently “indefinitely suspended” due to ongoing financial difficulties at production company MGM. I asked David whether once these issues are lifted he will compose his sixth Bond film for Bond 23.
I would never presume anything, but I would be surprised if I wasn’t but prepared not to be just in case it happens! I mean, I don’t know when the next one’s going to be, we were supposed to be doing it next year but obviously we have to wait for the situation with MGM to settle down, so I think it’ll probably be the year after. Certainly we’ve been talking about it with that in mind – that I’d be doing it – and I’m still involved with other things with EON anyway, for example I’m in talks to do some things for the 50th anniversary. I think you’re foolish to assume, so I always remind Michael and Barbara that I don’t expect to be asked every single time, but they know the level of commitment they get out of me if they do.
High or low budget, if the film's good, David's interested
Despite being young for his expansive and successful CV, I asked David if at 48 there is a particular individual or company that he would enjoy working on a project with that he hasn’t had the opportunity to do so yet.
I haven’t really because I always just prefer to work on something that I think is good and that can be good on lots of different levels. I wouldn’t want to work necessarily with a particular director if I didn’t think that particular director was doing a film that I didn’t think was very good. Everyone has a duff movie in them at some point, so I’d rather do it project by project, but if a film interests or excites me, make me want to do it then I will regardless of the budget or director.
It’s really to do with whether I think I can do it, whether I want to do it, if I can do a good job and that can be with a film that’s got no money or a lot, but for me the job stays the same. I end up in a room, in front of a computer trying to think of music for something and if that thing costs £100 or £100,000,000 to put on the screen, the job is basically the same. It’s still, ‘here’s the scene, I need you to do what you need to do.’
Working with those at your career level are David's secret to success to a successful composing career
Knowing some of our readers are into music beyond just listening to it, I asked David if he had any advice for any budding composers/producers. What he said is actually sound career advice for those in any industry.
I guess there are lots and lots of different ways into it, but I do think the likelihood of you being fully qualified in all sorts of ways and then being able to land a film is fairly unrealistic. Certainly a lot of people that I know and work in films, started off because they worked with a director a very, very early stage, perhaps in student movies or some kind of TV thing … the director then gets a job doing a feature film and then wants to take the people with him that he’s worked with before. Those kind of relationships are absolutely essential.
If you were starting off and you had a degree in composition, or you might not, you might be an electronic musician, whatever it is, I think the real good currency in most kind of relationships is finding those people at the same stage of their career as you are because I think the chances of you landing a gig with someone who has a choice of anyone in the world as a composer is probably fairly remote if they don’t know you. But if you get to do some student movies with someone who might be in four years time have developed into doing feature films, you’re probably much more likely to have them take you with them than they would anyone else.
Honestly, if you’re a film maker and you have the choice of anyone in the world, why would you choose someone you’ve never heard of or worked with before, over someone you have worked with before and know and trust? If you put the shoe on the other foot, it doesn’t really make much sense for a film maker to hand that responsibility over to someone else, so definitely try and build and develop your relationships with those who are the same career point as you.
No Bond on the imminent horizon, but there is plenty still happening in David's world
Obviously retirement is a long way from now, but I asked David if before he retires there is anything he would love to accomplish within the film industry or otherwise?
I do love what I’m doing. Billy Bragg once said to me “it’s good to know you’ll never get to say ‘Thanks very much Wembley, good night!” although frankly I’d still like to hear that! I don’t know, I’d like to do some more live work, but it’s difficult when you have to go out with a hundred people every time, it’s hugely expensive.
I’m conducting at the Albert Hall on Friday May 14th with the Royal Philharmonic which is an evening of film where I’m doing bits and pieces from Bond movies and a couple of other ones as well and I always like that because it just puts you directly back in contact with the music and the audience. You can enjoy it in a different way, so I’d like to do a bit more of that but I still like making records, like how I did a record with Shirley Bassey last year and a show with her as part of the Electric Proms for the BBC.
I’m also doing some work with Care International who are an international charity, doing awareness and fundraising for them. Pretty much everything I do now that’s not to do with film is, how can I help them? I went to Rwanda with them last year and I’m supposed to be going to Chile with them this year looking at projects with women and children and it’s extraordinary the work they do. I did a big concert for them at Brixton last October with some of my friends who turned up and played. So Mark Ronson, Gary Barlow, Kaiser Chiefs, Dara O’Brien, Rob Brydon, David Walliams and a whole bunch of people, so that’s going to be done every alternate year and in those other years we’ll do a film concert for them.
In order to allow you to see what David’s up to in 2010 between Bond films, I close by asking him to summarise where we may see and hear him this year.
I’ve just finished two films, one of which is called ‘Made in Dagenham’ which was actually about the women that went on strike at the Ford car plant in Dagenham in ’69 to get equal pay, so there’s a car related movie for you!
And I’ve just finished another one called Morning Glory which was a comedy with Harrison Ford about a TV news anchor. It was kind of the American equivalent of if Jeremy Paxman was contractually obliged to host ‘This Morning’ with Fern Britton and didn’t want to, it’s that kind of story. It’s very funny, very clever and we’ve just finished that and right now I’m into the next Narnia movie, so no cars or helicopters in Narnia but lots of monsters, creatures and ships.