Patrick Doyle

Over 25 years as a screen composer and Patrick Doyle is still at the top of his game. We quiz him about his career and secret of his musical relationship with director Kenneth Branagh…

Jim Ottewill
  • By Jim Ottewill
  • 9 Oct 2014
  • min read
For the last quarter of a century, Scottish film composer Patrick Doyle has enjoyed a musical career at the top of his game.

It’s testament to his compositional prowess that he’s scored more than 50 films including Henry V, Sense and Sensibility, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and Thor. He has a reputation as one of the UK’s most successful composers, reflected in being BAFTA-nominated and twice Oscar and Golden Globe-nominated.

Ahead of his appearance at the BAFTA Conversations with Screen Composers event at the Royal Albert Hall on Monday 13 October, we snatched a few minutes with Patrick to find out more about his career and musical relationship with Kenneth Branagh…

When did you first start composing?

I have been composing since I was a teenager. My first piece was with a string quartet.

How did you get into scoring films?

I worked with Kenneth Branagh in theatre for a year and was asked to score Henry V.

What are the biggest challenges you face when writing for film?

The biggest challenges surround writing strong thematic material, dealing with the budgets, keeping many people happy plus working to tight deadlines.

What do you regard as your best work?

It's difficult for me to say; I’m proud of many films I have done and always try my best.

You have worked across numerous genres with your film work – how do you approach each project? 

I listen closely to what the filmmakers want and like to read the script as soon as I can if I am involved in the project early on. I immerse myself in the characters and the narrative, then wait for the early edit to judge the tone and pace of the film.

Could you explain a little about the creative process? 

I try to keep every score a fresh as possible and hopefully adapt to the times. This helps me score for all types of genres.

You’ve enjoyed an ongoing, incredibly successful working relationship with Kenneth Branagh - why does your partnership work so well? And how has it endured?

We trust each other. I can also read his mind! He communicates very well and is very succinct. We both take our work together seriously but we also like to have fun.

What is your favourite film score?

It is difficult to single one out, but one of my favourites is the Godfather score by Nina Rota.

Which contemporary composers do you rate, and why?

To name any contemporary composers is to leave certain composers out and there are many who do great work.

Which areas/sectors of screen composing offer the most opportunities for new and emerging composers?  

I believe that young aspiring composers should immerse themselves in all forms of art and do as much studying as possible. Theatre is a very good place to start to learn about drama and music. Opera study is essential.

What projects are currently keeping you busy at the moment?

I am working on the score to Disney's live action Cinderella and an animation picture called BOO for Dreamworks.

Click here for discount tickets to the BAFTA Conversations with Screen Composers event.