Musings About Music In Film

Moonraking It In: Crowdfunding 007's Film Scores

By Charlie Brigden mooonraker

James Bond has done it again. But he hasn't saved the world from a new world order, or defeated the evil agents of SMERSH or SPECTRE - he's led a successful Kickstarter which will enable one of his most requested film scores to be released in its complete form.

Let's set the stage. 1979's Moonraker, while not being one of the more acclaimed 007 adventures, features one of John Barry's most exciting and sumptuous scores. The resulting soundtrack album sorely misses some of the best musical moments from the picture, and as a result does not include one single rendition of the James Bond theme (possibly due to the Barry/Monty Norman dispute). The album is therefore looked upon by fans as lacking, and needing additional score.

Later on, the series is given scope for expansion by MGM. Due to restrictions in time and source, producer Lukas Kendall is only able to expand some of the albums. Unfortunately, Moonraker is unavailable as a candidate due to missing masters - the score was recorded in Paris. The wait goes on, and fans clamber for the music, with their appetite partially sated due to a cue being recorded on the Bond: Back In Action albums. But there is hope. Talk amongst the film score community is encouraged by the success of crowd-funding, and James Fitzpatrick of Tadlow Music, who have a reputation for providing fantastic recordings of scores such as Conan The Barbarian, El Cid, and Taras Bulba, takes the plunge. I asked James Fitzpatrick a couple of questions about theKickstarter and the future of this kind of funding.

CB: What made you venture into Kickstarter as a source for funding film scores?

JF: I have spent some 30 years recording both new and older film scores, which were either funded by Silva Screen Records when I formed them with Reynold Da Silva over 25 years ago, or by Tadlow Music and Prometheus Records for re-recordings of classic scores I have done in the past ten years, like EL CID, LAWRENCE OF ARABIA, TRUE GRIT, THE PRIVATE LIFE OF SHERLOCK HOLMES, EXODUS, CONAN THE BARBARIAN, QUO VADIS etc...

Recently I made 2 recordings of rare John Barry scores for MISTER MOSES and THE BETSY. Critical reaction to these from the "fans" was very favourable. Over the last few years I have had many requests from Barry fans to re-record MOONRAKER because the original recording made in Paris was from an audio viewpoint felt to be not of the same standard as other Bond scores. However I always declined these requests feeling that it might just be the same few fans asking time and time again... plus you could hardly call MOONRAKER a "classic" in same vein as LAWRENCE OF ARABIA... although it is a very fine Barry/Bond score.

So, basically I thought I would test the market with Kickstarter... so it is basically a case of "put your money where your mouth is" and let's see if there are enough fans out there willing to support a recording in advance. And so far I have been pleasantly surprised with the enthusiasm shown in the first 5 days of the campaign... but I still have nearly 40% of the budget to raise!

CB: What scores would you personally like to see recorded in the future under a program like this?

JF: Well on a personal level I have recorded just about every classic score I wanted to do ... recently I recorded the complete score for OBSESSION by Bernard Herrmann... and later this year I will be recording complete CDs of SODOM AND GOMORRAH by Rozsa, THE BLUE MAX by Goldsmith, DUEL IN THE SUN by Dimitri Tiomkin and a complete score by my own favourite composer Maurice Jarre. These are not being funded by Kickstarter... although maybe they could be? But as to future Kickstarter campaigns I feel, like with MOONRAKER, it is up to the "fans" to decide.

CB: Are you surprised at how quickly this has taken off, especially outside of the film scoring community with celebrity retweets and the like?

JF: Very surprised!

Amazingly, Moonraker passed its funding requirement of £25, 000 nine days after the Kickstarter began, which is a massive deal not only for the fans of Moonraker (myself included) and the film score community in general. Just think... literally any score could be open to being recorded as long as it has the financial backing, and this doesn't have to stop at recordings. Who's to say La-La Land or Kritzerland, who both love to release golden age titles (which sadly aren't very successful outside of small numbers) can't use this to financially justify these kind of more risky titles?

The sky used to be the limit... and then along came Moonraker.

Back Moonraker here

Check out Tadlow Music here

Thanks to James Fitzpatrick