Redefining the weight of the world is the tagline for The Last Artifact, a film which explores the untold story of the actual Kilogram, a small metallic cylinder, hidden away in a vault outside Paris.
It’s a film that I knew immediately I wanted to score when I was approached by director Ed Watkins, whom I’d worked with before on various Stephen Hawking documentaries, it ticks so many boxes for me personally.
Ed was working alongside Emmy Award winning director Jaime Jacobsen and they brought me on-board at the edit stage. They wanted the soundtrack to have a ‘fun rustic quality’ as a contrast to the seriousness of the science in the film.
I had never scored a film in this musical style before and that really appealed to me, I wanted to see if I could rise to the challenge it represented. Some of the world’s top scientists feature in the film working to redefine the kilogram….but could their critical mission really be underscored musically using ukuleles, a harp, marimba and metallic percussion? Now that would create a compelling soundtrack if I could make it work.
Main titles theme from the award-winning film The Last Artifact
When I begin a project I always try to find a way for the music to relate to the film. In The Last Artifact I wanted to create a ‘sound world’ that could be related musically to the workings of a quirky old mechanical machine. The idea came to me when I viewed the scene where the French scientist is walking though the Archives Nationales building in Paris looking for the original kilogram artifact, everything in the scenes looked so antiquated and mechanical.
I began to compose some cues that featured metallic percussion, chimes and various objects. When I put my new themes up against scenes in the film there was instant chemistry creating a beautiful union between old and new. These scientists were pushing the boundaries of their discipline to recreate work which stemmed from a long past of methodical science …and now my music was helping to tell their story.
The Last Artifact first aired on PBS in the US last Autumn. It will be airing worldwide in 2021 on various channels.