Hollywood composer Patrick Doyle urges Scots pupils to seek film work

A leading Hollywood composer wants to tour schools around his native Scotland to urge pupils to pursue careers in the film industry.

Lanarkshire-born Patrick Doyle Doyle has credited his career to the music tuition he had at high school in Motherwell and from a piano teacher in Uddingston. Photograph: John Devlin
Lanarkshire-born Patrick Doyle Doyle has credited his career to the music tuition he had at high school in Motherwell and from a piano teacher in Uddingston. Photograph: John Devlin

Lanarkshire-born Patrick Doyle said he wanted to encourage a new generation of film industry workers in Scotland and was willing to work with local authorities to highlight the hundreds of different jobs that are involved making movies.

Speaking ahead of a 65th birthday celebration of his soundtrack work at the Celtic Connections festival in Glasgow, Doyle, who lives just outside London, has also thrown his weight behind plans for permanent film studio in Scotland.

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Doyle, who started learning piano at the age of 12 and went on to take up the tuba, won a place at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow.

He is best-known for his collaborations with Kenneth Branagh, including films such as Henry V, Much Ado About Nothing, Hamlet, Love’s Labour’s Lost, As You Like It and Murder On The Orient Express.

Doyle’s other film work includes Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes, Thor, Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire, Calendar Girls and Brave, Disney-Pixar’s animated feature set in Scotland.

Doyle has credited his career to the specialist music tuition he had at high school in Motherwell, as well as from a local piano teacher in Uddingston, and said he wanted to put something back into the Scottish education system.

He said: “I’ve done a talk to a few schools in Lanarkshire, which I’d love to take around Scotland, on the history of film right up to the present day. The whole point of it would be to stress that there are actually a 1,000 jobs in the film industry and that it’s not just about the actors in front of the camera.

“Every profession that’s out there in the real world is vital for a film studio. All those technical jobs are essential for film.

“A composer works with a whole team of music supervisors and conductors.

“I wouldn’t want to raise expectations too high, as we’ve got to have a sustainable industry.

“But a new film studio would be fabulous. It’s long overdue in Scotland. I’m very keen for it to help the next generation build a real film industry in Scotland.”

Speaking in Glasgow, where he is preparing for the anniversary show as well as the world premiere of a screening of Brave backed by a live orchestra, Doyle recalled how a cinema trip to the city first fired his imagination about the industry.

He said: “The very first film I went to see on my own was Fantasia, at the Cosmo cinema, which is now the Glasgow Film Theatre, when I was 14 and my mother allowed me to get the bus into town. I knew it had some famous pieces of music in it, but I thought it was amazing that the animation must have been created afterwards. I was completely blown away.

“I became obsessed with the whole technical side of animation, so to end up working with Disney on films like Brave and Cinderella all those years later was bizarre.”

Doyle first made his name as an actor, appearing in plays such as The Slab Boys and the classic film Chariots Of Fire, but also worked on musical comedy productions before joining Branagh’s Renaissance Theatre Company in 1987

Doyle said: “I’d always loved writing music for theatre, as well as acting, but missed doing it full time and was hankering to focus more on my writing. My last play at the Almeida Theatre in London and what a cast it had – Miriam Margolyes, Timothy Spall, Gerard Kelly and John Sessions. John told me that this guy Kenneth Branagh was looking for a composer for a play he was working on, I met him, we got on like a house on fire and it changed my life.”

Doyle says he has never been busier, with two more Branagh films – Artemis Fowl and Death On The Nile – due out this year and next.

“Ken is very complimentary. He has said to me, ‘Your work is getting better and better’. I like to think I’m still working as hard and am still obsessed with music as ever. You get far more experienced and less hysterical. You have to have a go and be prepared for anything. You have to be brave – if you’ll pardon the pun.”