Composer Stefan Gregory takes on feature films with Simon Stone’s “The Dig”


A sweeping score inspired by the pre-WWII British landscape marked Stefan Gregory’s entry into feature films, with the composer making his debut as part of Simon Stone Excavation.

The Netflix drama about the discovery of the Sutton Hoo treasure in 1939 stars Ralph Fiennes as real-life archaeologist Basil Brown and Carey Mulligan as Edith Pretty, the landowner whose Anglo-Saxon artifacts were discovered.

The screenplay was written by Moira Buffini as an adaptation of the novel of the same name by John Preston.

Carolyn Marks Blackwood, Murray Ferguson, Gabrielle Tana and Ellie Wood produced the film.

The accompanying music includes intimate piano and chamber pieces, as well as grandiose strings to enhance the discoveries within the story.

Gregory said trial and error was used to compose music that reflected the tone of the film.

“Much of it was inspired by the scenery and the beautiful shots in the film,” he said.

“We started our journey in orchestral music at the turn of the 20th century, but it didn’t sound quite right; what we really needed was something that captures the anxiety of the times and sets the tone for the story.

“Music had to come from the earth, but I also had to communicate this bigger philosophical theme. “

Gregory’s journey to functionality has encompassed more than one direction.

After studying mathematics at the University of Sydney, his passion for music led him into the world of composition.

A stint with the rock band Faker, platinum record, was followed by a stint in the theater, where he composed for companies in Australia and Europe.

It was during this time that he met Stone, with whom he collaborated on more than 30 productions, including Yerma, by Spanish playwright Federico García Lorca.

Stéphane Grégoire.

Gregory said that there are a lot of commonalities between theater and cinema from a compositional standpoint, but the leap to the latter isn’t always easy.

“From my perspective, 95 percent of the work is the same, but there’s a little bit that’s actually quite different,” he said.

“It comes from the veracity of the film and the way we believe it’s reality because the sound and the image are in sync.

“As a result, some of the music you would use for a movie would sound out of date if you put it into a theatrical production.

“There is some nervousness in the film industry about using people who have never done it before, so you need to take your break to show people that you can actually do it.”

Looking ahead, Gregory said he hopes to work on more feature films, citing their longevity as part of what makes them appealing.

“What’s great about composing for film is that you end up with this permanent relic, which is a refreshing change,” he said.

“In the theater, you can do the most fantastic score for the best show in the world, but a year later, it’s over.

“Since the film came out, I’ve been very busy and just trying to figure out what might be the next step in this world.”

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