Big Chimp

Mike Varty



1.Where are you from?
Gargoyle Studio, House of Foiled, Farnborough, Hampshire, UK.

2.How did you get involved in Big Chimp?
I offered, or did Henry asked me to do the music? Can't remember which.... but it's been a pleasure whichever. Now I come to think about it, it all started with the music for the trailer, and I then agreed to write the full film soundtrack too.

3.What filmmaking experience did you have before making Big Chimp?
I've been in music all my life, pretty much starting at age 4 or 5 on violin and piano. Having done the classical thing through to my teens, I then moved on to rock music after that, writing and playing in various bands. I've known Henry for a good few years now, and over that time I've written a few bits and pieces of music for various films he's made. I think I started with the fight scene in Foiled, then I did the theme tune and soundtrack music for Fluffy the English Vampire Slayer - I even formed a new band called Noscaferatu ( to record some vampire-ish songs, one of which features in the Fluffy soundtrack.

4.What was the most difficult thing about composing the soundtrack?
Haha, finding the time!! I've been side-tracked from Big Chimp so many times that I don't really care to admit how long it's taken me to complete it. But apart from that, composing was actually quite easy once I'd got started. Henry's clear style of directing and editing makes it fairly obvious how to treat every scene with an appropriate slice of emotional music, a sure testament to his ability to weave a good story. I had a quick scan through the film to start and then doodled out a few thematic ideas on piano, then distilled these down into some main themes, then just went through the film bit by bit from start to finish sculpting each section with the right themes and the right emotional feeling. I also spent quite a lot of time just laughing at the things :D

5.What's your favourite film featuring an ape / monkey / gorilla / chimpanzee / orangutan, and why?
Hmm, I recall Every Which Way But Loose from my childhood, very amusing at the time... But I'd like to see that one with Ronald Reagan in it, Bedtime For Bonzo, simply out of curiosity!

6.Tell us a fascinating fact about yourself.
I'm in 8 bands, 5 of which are regularly out gigging and 3 of which have new CD albums coming out in 2012!!

7.What have you been up to since filming Big Chimp in 2006?
Blimey, was it 2006? Have I taken that long to write the music?? Shh, don't tell anyone. No, I think Henry took a while in editing too... Anyway, apart from writing the music, between now and then I've also produced and released a DVD and a CD with one of my bands, I've recorded another two CDs with 2 other bands, done plenty of gigs, and avoided a significant amount of DIY.

8.Any plans for the future?
Apart from continuing the usual projects in music, I'm hoping to start rearing a few chickens, and maybe even a pig or two... I do enjoy a bit of bacon and eggs :D

9.What's your favourite memory from the Big Chimp shoot?
I didn't really get involved until it was time to write the music, so it's a musical thing which is my favourite, and that was recording the stupid noises for the dinasaur section - I used a bike horn, a duck call quaker, a set of mini pan-pipes which I got out of a christmas cracker, and two old 80s synths for that authentic feel! It was hilarious recording this and it just makes me laugh each time I listen to it!

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