National Trust: 125 years

Joe chats about the soundtrack to this film for the National Trust, which uses a timeless poem from the founder Octavia Hill to deliver an important message.

125 years on, a timeless poem from the founder of the National Trust has never felt more relevant in today’s insanely noisy world. It’s amazing to think that back then this message was just as relevant as it is today.
This film is all about contrast and sound played a big part in this. In the first half, we wanted to create a sense of chaos despite the everyday images to really give a sense of the need for quiet.

We looked at a few references from cinema for how to achieve this, but a key reference was the films of Darren Aronovksy. He often employed sound in unusual ways to convey first person perspective in times of increasing trauma and stress. In light of this I created a music composition to sit beneath the sound design – the idea was that it would subliminally push the tension without feeling like it was separate from the sound design. The piece is made from a recording I made of the London Underground, which I sampled and then processed into a bass pulse – here it is on it’s own under the first half:

Other techniques we employed were adding high frequency tones to increase the discomfort for the viewer – although I have to confess I did lose most of these for the cinema mix as at high volumes the discomfort is pretty unbearable! It was also a chance to use some of my personal recordings from London protests and riots from over the years, which was particularly satisfying.

For the second half of the film, we wanted it to feel as serene as possible to match Anthony’s gorgeous countryside visual work. We used very specific recordings native to the shots captured. It was very important to the National Trust that everything here be authentic so what you hear is by and large the wildlife you would hear in those locations.

Big thanks to the amazing team on this project – longstanding friends and collaborators Anthony Dickenson and Mark Harbour, and Wieden’s team of Rose, Harry and Derek, it was a blast!


Watch the final video below.