If there is one TV show that has perhaps the longest tradition of inspiring its audience to get creative, it’s Doctor Who – but one particular venture grew rather bigger than its creators envisioned, even getting Momo involved to score a new film by director Andy Robinson, to promote a charity anthology of exciting new fiction that takes a fresh look at everyone’s favourite timelord.
With a brand as big as Who, there’s never been any shortage of ideas about its regenerating central character, the Doctor, from those who love the programme – with fan fiction, films, art, music and podcasts filling zines and forums over decades. But writer Declan May and illustrator and broadcaster Simon Brett found new inspiration from one particular chapter of this BBC science fiction hero when the show’s fiftieth anniversary episode aired in autumn 2013 – namely, the possibilities of the life of the War Doctor, never before revealed. But as much as Momo:tempo’s Mr Peach has long enjoyed Doctor Who, even drumming up a Momo version of the sacred theme tune for Simon’s successful convention Phonicon, he didn’t foresee his creative involvement in anything further.
“Essentially, Simon approached me. He’s done this before. And when Simon approaches you it always seems to lead to things happening” says Momo.
THE ANTHOLOGY, THE FILM
“The original idea was to pull together an anthology of original stories exploring the character that Sir John Hurt brought to the screen in the fiftieth, which seemed jolly exciting to me as the whole gimmick of Steven Moffat’s wonderful story was the revelation of this previously unknown incarnation of the Doctor. My involvement came when Simon said to me simply: ‘We want to make a film to go with it’.”
Introduced to director Andy Robinson, it was clear that all the personalities involved in the project wouldn’t keep the brief to ‘a simple online PowerPoint promo for the book’.
“Andy wrote a whole story overnight, I think. And when I saw his storyboard and read his script I just thought it was so charming, so human” says Momo. “It is touching and un-techy. And it was obviously crying out for me to lavish it with music.”
The film came to life so much that anthology editor Declan May wove it’s story into the knit of narratives in the book.
“I now have a credit in the book!” laughs Momo. “And my work isn’t anywhere in the book. But such is the impact of Andy’s film with all those involved, we’re all finding it impossible to picture either the publication or the short without the other. Andy has realised what’s on screen incredibly well, especially for a film with zero budget! Crikey. Costumes, extras, props, FX, locations… the whole thing knits together into a single vision for the story just as any film should. It has a real integrity to it, and a real humanity to the end result.’
Momo’s approach to writing the music was to give into temptation, he says.
“I’m always saying less is more. More music often equals less emotional impact, because it can become wallpaper. However, this is a film entirely told as a memory with voice-over, so music has to underpin almost all of it. Which has lead to a score that borders on the melodramatic but essentially does just what the story needs it to – which is hint at all manner of things in one short four-minute narrative. I’ve loved going dark and minimal and also big and emotive. Just got away with it, I think” he grins.
And of course there is the possibility of playing with a very famous piece of music too?
“Yes. I went there” Timo nods “I have referenced the most sacred signature tune in history. BUT, I’ve done it very obliquely. Motifs and references underpin the whole structure actually, but it’s all so upside down only a fan might notice. Which, given the unofficial nature of this whole project is just as well!”
While the endeavour of thirty different writers and all manner of illustrators, proof readers and film production people is clearly motivated by love for both Doctor Who and a great creative challenge, some key enthusiasm is provided by Seasons Of War‘s real aim, which is to raise money for Caudwell Children.
“It’s a children’s charity that helps younger ones deal with some particular challenges” Momo explains.
“It’s close to the heart of editor Declan, who’s own son benefits from the vital support they give him with his autism. Having a child growing into adjusting to this kind of challenge opens the eyes, I have no doubt. We’re all absolutely made up to be raising money for Caudwell. As a totally unofficial anthology, Seasons Of War and the film were never intended to make a penny for those involved, so it’s great to turn the energies to something out of it.”
“Being part of this whole endeavour with everyone has just been so positive. I can’t believe the efforts all have gone to, Declan, Andy and Simon in particular have climbed mountains. But I know all of us have loved making new things – new work, new experience, ..new friends. It hasn’t felt like much of a battle, but a great victory.”
Seasons Of War, the unofficial Doctor Who anthology is out now as a digital download. You can find a link to pledge for a copy and to discover dates of the forthcoming physical release here:
If you’d like to hear more of Momo:tempo’s commissioned work and music for screen, find the latest Slo-Mo playlist right here, including ECHOES OF WAR, a re-imagining of the score to this film.