Josie Olney Student News Story

Production student Josie Olney talks about her love of film music and her TV composition debut for BBC4

Josie Olney is an accomplished musician, playing the clarinet, flute, piano, guitar and ukulele. Her love of composition was cemented at a young age, when she won a regional carol-writing competition and had her work performed by a professional choir at Saffron Walden Church. Josie started the Production with Classical degree at Leeds College of Music in 2015 and has since had her work showcased in two Film Music Showcase events, as well as her composition, entitled ‘Friday Night’, performed by LCoM’s New Music Collective at Manchester’s Hallé St Peter’s.

Who’s inspiring you at LCoM at the moment?
Since coming to LCoM I have met so many fantastic musicians, tutors and guest lecturers. I have to say out of all of these talented people, Brian Morrell, my musicianship tutor has been the biggest inspiration to me. In the future I hope to write music for film/TV - Brian has had extensive experience in this field so we are normally on the same page!
Why is he such an inspiration?
His lectures are jam-packed with lots of different music but mainly film scores which I really enjoy breaking down and analysing them. Brian also gives me extra time outside of lectures to give me feedback on work I have either written for my course or work from outside of college. These meetings are mainly just two musicians talking about what we love most: music!
Brian also has given me the opportunity to showcase work in both the LCoM Film Music Showcase events this year. In these events a few students compose music alongside pieces of film and showcase them to an industry professional, for example Nicholas Dodd came in the first term. This was such a great opportunity for me as it not only got my head down working hard to produce something of a high standard, but also a chance to receive an opinion from a very respected figure in the industry which not every music student can get!
What project are you currently working on?
I have just finished my first job for TV. It is a documentary about one of my ancestors and I got the job by accidentally walking in on the film set when I went to visit my relatives in Norfolk; if I hadn’t been there that day I wouldn’t have got it. My tutors have been telling me all year it’s about being in the right place at the right time and I now understand that!
This was a fantastic first job for me as it gave me a glimpse of what the industry is like. I first received a short brief on what they were looking for which ended up being something quite different to what I first wrote! I started composing on the piano the minute I got home. I was
Aiming for Victorian classical piano - something “Motzarty”! So three days later I sent 4/5 tracks over to see what they thought and I got a good response back saying ‘yes these are great!’ which was lovely to hear. Later I got a call saying ‘please could you change this slightly’ and other such requests. So I was up into the small hours most nights trying to change and perfect the tracks they wanted editing. I would often change a track multiple times! It was great practice for my compositional skills because I had to think on my feet, given the deadline was always then next morning. I loved every minute of it.
The documentary was first aired in America but I recently heard that BBC 4 will air it this Autumn, which is wonderful news. Once aired, it can found on BBC iplayer entitled ‘Victorian Rebel: Marianne North’.

What made this project special for you?
The project was special not only because it was my first ever job but it was also about my family. It was so wonderful to learn more about them and then portray them in my music. I am still yet to see the film but I really hope it’s what I have been imagining in my head! My ancestor was a great woman of her time so in my music I have tried to not only portray the era, but also her strong willed, bold and courageous mind.

What’s the plan for the future?
I am travelling to India this summer to volunteer in a children’s primary school. I am really looking forward to this! I am taking my field recorder with me and hopefully can pick up some interesting music samples to bring home and work on! But I am certainly looking forward to getting back to Leeds and stuck in with year 2.
Life…well! Of course it’s my dream to become the next Thomas Newman but with a reality check I know this isn’t going to be too easy! I am lucky to have got this opportunity writing music for a documentary on BBC 4 but I need to climb the composer’s ladder a bit further to reach Hollywood! I hope to write more music for TV whether its commercials/documentaries/dramas etc. My ideal show to write for would be a Scandinavian murder like The Bridge because I enjoy the darker topics - there is so much character to incorporate and often back stories to slowly reveal over the course of the show. Hopefully having gained enough experience and contacts I can maybe help write some film scores even if it first involves making the composer’s tea!

You can find out more about Josie’s work on her website or on Soundcloud at The documentary about her Aunt 'Victorian Rebel: Marianne North’ will feature on BBC 4 this Autumn.



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"Since coming to LCoM I have met so many fantastic musicians, tutors and guest lecturers. I have to say out of all of these talented people, Brian Morrell, my musicianship tutor has been the biggest inspiration to me."

Josie Olney

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