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That Good Night: The Emotional Film from a Musical Perspective

A look into the musical processes involved with film That Good Night, one of this year's Edinburgh Film Festival premieres.

By Ella Joy 14-Jul-2017

We caught up with Nicola Fletcher, a music supervisor who launched into the industry after her work with Guy Ritchie and Matthew Vaughn for Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. Since, she’s been busy working on over 35 features including That Good Night; the late John Hurt’s final film.

Nicola recently worked on That Good Night, which premiered at Edinburgh Film Festival this year. We wanted to get an insight into the process of working on the film, and an idea of how something like this comes together.

Firstly, can you tell us a bit about your involvement with that project and what your role involved?

That Good Night, I’m sure you know, is based on a stage play of the same name, first performed over 20 years ago so there was very little need or desire from the director and producers to ‘experiment’ with music.

Guy Farley, the composer, did a brilliant job of creating a score that supported the compassion and bittersweet tragedy of the film. The score really was the most important part of the music process. Which meant my job was to clear existing and original Portuguese songs that would work in the film. In the end we used just one song - ‘ATÉ AO VERÅO’ by Ana Moura for the heart attack scene. I cleared that directly with SPDA, the Portuguese rights agency who were incredibly helpful, and Universal Music here in the UK. All in all, very uncomplicated.

Were you involved in bringing Guy Farley on board or was that decision made by the director?

Guy was on board already and had his own fixer - to book the musicians, studio, engineer etc - so I wasn’t needed for the recording at Abbey Road. I think, when a music budget is so tight as this one was, you call on the people you’ve worked with before. It’s crucial to be able to negotiate fees that fit within the budget.

I did keep up with Guy’s progress as he wrote the score. We spoke often - I wanted to make sure he was happy, to find out how the score was coming along, and also whether I may have more sources to find.  Sometimes there’s a sudden need for sourced music when the score is finished - when the score doesn’t work or a song is preferable for a particular scene.

The director and producers toyed with the idea of creating a song, sung by Ana Moura, from Dylan Thomas’ poem Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night  -  using the theme from the score in the song (or vice versa). In the end, we decided against it. Firstly the budget wasn’t really there for that - studio, musicians, logistics of being in the UK and the artist in Portugal - and of course a fee for the Artist. Also, it didn’t really fit with the films overall understated and finely balanced score.

John Hurt who played the lead in the film unfortunately passed away earlier this year. Did this influence the post-production process at all and the choices that were made musically?

I wouldn’t say that John Hurt’s death changed anything concerning the actual music choices made, but it certainly affected everyone in a deeply emotional way. I don’t want to speak for anyone else but it struck me that, following his death, the production gained significance. Aside from being a great film, it became a wonderful memorial to a towering figure in the British film industry. It was an honour to have worked on the film. 

Can you tell us when we might be able to see the film?

I have no idea! I’m keeping an eye on the film companies website. As a music supervisor I’m often the last know! Not that I’m bitter about these things …

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