Hutt Valley composer turns in 'plucky' film score
"The first thing I thought was how do you cinematic poultry?" Tom McLeod says.
The Lower Hutt film composer's brief for coming up with the Pecking Order soundtrack was direct enough.
"Slavko Martinov, the director, called me in May last year. He said it's Best In Show but with chickens … and it's real.
"Well I loved Best In Show but chickens I knew nothing about. It's a world so few of us do know about," the 44-year-old said.
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McLeod, who composes scores for films, documentaries and television shows from his home studio in Petone, set to watching the Pecking Order "rough cut" with his wife, Sarah.
"We chuckled and we laughed and we cried. It's a beautiful film. This was a hobby club, yes, but the passion was immense, you immediately warmed to the characters."
McLeod, who grew up in Lower Hutt and went to St Patrick's College Silverstream, said Pecking Order's look rendered chickens as "quite beautiful and quite cinematic".
That led to his score's style and feel, "the country folk sound, the banjos, the rural aspect of it", he said.
Martinov also told McLeod he wanted "pluck" in the score.
"So we recorded some string players without the bow, for some clucky funk.
"But Pecking Order is more than a chicken show, it's a universal story too which will have appeal across New Zealand and across the world hopefully," he said.
"It's about people facing crisis with the politics always there in the background and there's the challenge of the actual bird competition too, the tension of the big show day," the double Silver Scrolls winner said.
This had McLeod using more electronic and synthethised sounds for dramatic effect.
A jazz piano graduate of the New Zealand School of Music, McLeod said film composition was often about "thinking in micro-elements, in small margins of time".