Our Father

Our Father follows the story of a young girl by the name of Jess. Her father, Amos, is a charlatan who poses as a religious healer. As the film develops it becomes clear that Jess suffers from an illness that reveals her father’s true helplessness. 

Having worked with Sami before, I knew his level of filmmaking and assumed a high standard for Our Father. And he did not disappoint. Not only did I consider the story compelling, but also powerfully emotional without those emotions bursting out of the screen. Not only in the writing but visually and technically, the film was impressive. The only issue with the music for Our Father, which became more of a positive challenge, was the time restraint for the music. Unfortunately, there was only a week to compose, record and deliver the music to Sami. I saw this as an opportunity to challenge myself and I learned some valuable lessons from the process. 

The film’s dialogue is quite minimal which presents a challenge to the actors to communicate emotions through subtle expressions, of course, they did an outstanding job. On watching the film for the first time, musically, I felt something haunting and almost dreamlike would sit beneath the acting and maybe enhance some of those subtle emotions to give them a new dimension or voice with which to reach the audience. Sami and I worked very closely on the music, with Sami giving regular, extremely helpful feedback on each cue I sent him. This way we achieved a score that melded into the film and into Jess’ story. We really wanted to pull the inner turmoil Jess was experiencing out and mirror it in the music. 

I had an idea while watching a scene in which Jess is watching her father give a service. Typically this scene in real life would involve love, admiration, respect for her father for offering his services to those in need. But Jess knows the truth about her father and so sees the evil and the falseness in what he is doing. I wanted to try to capture that contrast in the music for that scene by using an instrument that tends to be used for beautiful, heavenly, somewhat religious music, the harp, but to dirty it up with distortion and have it be played quite hard. This method worked well to represent the feelings Jess had and the irony of the situation. I used a similar technique with the vocoder, an instrument typically used in upbeat music such as funk and pop. Instead manipulating it into a haunting, dreamlike voice. Sami mentioned quite early on that he liked the idea of experimenting with some sound design elements in this score. We still felt it should be subtle but we included a few non-musical sounds that we think further added a voice to Jess’ unvoiced emotions. Inspiration was taken from composers such as Jóhann Jóhannsson, Trent Reznor and similar composers for the film. 

This film was a real privilege to work on. The cast and crew and everyone involved set a high standard that inspired me to find the perfect music for the film. 

Ashley Holbrook

Ashley Holbrook Film Composer