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HomeAwardsAward Contender-George Fenton, Mrs Henderson Presents

Award Contender-George Fenton, Mrs Henderson Presents

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In the last 10 years, composer George Fenton has notched up close to an astonishing 50 film and TV scoring credits. Often working with the same directors on multiple films such as Nora Ephron (You’ve Got Mail, Lucky Numbers, Bewitched) and Andy Tennant (Hitch, Sweet Home Alabama, Anna and the King), Fenton most recently collaborated with Stephen Frears, for whom he scored the London wartime comedy drama Mrs. Henderson Presents.The composer’s association with Frears goes back to the beginning of his career in the late 1970s. “He gave me the second job I ever had,” says Fenton. “Particularly early in my career, I learnt a lot from Stephen. It was a great start for me to work with him. He makes very interesting films. And he empowers people to do what they think.” Fenton was nominated for an Oscar and a BAFTA Film Award for his score for Frears’ 1988 Broadway play adaptation Dangerous Liaisons.With its high musical quotient and at Frears’ insistence, Mrs. Henderson offered Fenton the rare opportunity to come on board early on in a film’s development. “Stephen thought we should go to work on the film like The Freed Unit, the group of people who made the famous MGM musicals. So we met once or twice a week—me, Stephen, the producers Norma Heyman and Bob Hoskins, the choreographers Eleanor Fazan and Stuart Hopps, production designer Hugo Luczyc-Wyhowski, and Martin Sherman the writer—and talked about the script and how songs were going to work and how they would fit. At that stage, everything was quite fluid.“I’ve never worked on anything that way,” continues Fenton. “Normally the music comes last. Everything’s finished, and you put music where there’s room. With this, it was really good. They’d come to my house and we’d sit and work through things for four or five hours.”Though many photographs and scripts remained from the Windmill Theatre’s heyday in the 1930s, Fenton discovered that none of the theatre’s musical numbers had survived. “Everything that was kept at the theatre was destroyed when it closed,” he says. He focused his research instead on English band music of the era, writing appropriately styled music to some of the original monologs and scripts that had survived. “There was a lot of original music for me to write. But it was all very much informed by the idiom.”Fenton and his musical director Simon Chamberlain deliberately chose older players for the recording sessions who had experience playing in old dance bands. “The whole orchestra traveled free on the tube,” he laughs. “A lot of them had played together before. And they all brought their old mouthpieces, or older instruments, to give authenticity to the sound. We put a lot of time into making sure that when we wanted it to sound like the ’30s, it really did. That was part of the fun of film.”With much of the film’s action taking place in the theater, music is very much at the center of the film—which is not the way films are normally scored, Fenton notes. “When you’re trying to record music on a film set and to get people to dance and sing in time, there are whole new challenges. It was like putting on a musical and making a film at the same time. We rehearsed for a month before shooting began, just like we were going to put on a show. And that meant everyone was very well prepared. I think that was one of the nicest things about the film from the music point of view.”Since Mrs Henderson Presents Fenton has scored the Queen Latifah comedy Last Holiday as well as a TV documentary series Planet Earth.2006: Nominated BAFTA Anthony Asquith Award for Film Music Mrs. Henderson Presents; 2005: Nominated, Emmy for outstanding music composition for a miniseries, movie or a special Pride; Won, BMI Film Music Award Hitch; 2003: Won, BMI Film Music Award Sweet Home Alabama; 2002: Won, BAFTA TV Award for best original television music The Blue Planet; Won, Emmy for outstanding music composition for a series The Blue Planet “Seas of Life: Ocean World”; 2001: Won Venice Film Festival Rota Soundtrack Award The Navigators; 2000: Nominated,Golden Globe for best original score – motion picture Anna and the King; Nominated, Golden Globe for best original song – motion picture Anna and the King; 1999: Nominated, Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films Saturn Award for best music Ever After; Won, BMI Film Music Award You’ve Got Mail; 1996: Nominated, BAFTA Anthony Asquith Award for Film Music The Madness of King George; 1994: Nominated, BAFTA TV Award for best original television music Life in the Freezer; Won, BMI Film Music Award Groundhog Day; 1992: Nominated, Academy Award for best music, original score The Fisher King; 1991: Nominated, BAFTA Film Award for best original film score Memphis Belle; Nominated for BAFTA TV Award for best original television music The Trials of Life; 1990: Nominated, BAFTA Film Award for best original film score Dangerous Liaisons; 1989: Nominated, Academy Award for best music, original score Dangerous Liaisons; Nominated, BAFTA TV Award for best original television music Talking Heads; Nominated, Grammy for best song written specifically for a motion picture or for television Cry Freedom; 1988: Nominated, Academy Award for best music, original score Cry Freedom; Nominated, Academy Award for best music, original song Cry Freedom; Nominated, BAFTA Film Award for best score Cry Freedom; Nominated, Golden Globe best original score – motion picture Cry Freedom; 1987: Won, BAFTA TV Award for best original television music The Monocled Mutineer; 1985: Nominated, BAFTA TV Award for best original television music The Jewel in the Crown; 1984: Nominated, Grammy for best album of original score written for a motion picture or television special Gandhi; 1983: Nominated, Academy Award for best music, original score Gandhi; Nominated, BAFTA Film Award for best score Gandhi; 1982: Won, BAFTA TV Award for best original television music Bergerac; 1981: Nominated, BAFTA TV Award for best original television music Shoestring

Written by Sam Molineaux

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