Pioneering film event returns to King’s Cross
Music and film fans are rejoicing as the madcap Not So Silent Movies returns to Kings Place for a third season.
The monthly event sees cellist-composer Philip Sheppard and his handpicked house band improvise soundtracks to silent films.
Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker, legendary guitarist John Etheridge and film composer Dario Marianelli also guest starred at the first screening in September.
Mr Sheppard, who described the event as “Whose Line Is It Anyway meets chamber music”, only picks which film the band will be playing to with his five-year-old son the night beforehand.
The composer, who scored each of the 205 National Anthems for the 2012 Olympics, first considered the concept of Not So Silent Movies 10 years ago. But it was not until this year, with help from Geoff Muncey, that the project really took off.
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He said: “It’s a hugely therapeutic atmosphere, and when it clicks I think we have even more fun than the audience.
“I think we lose our childhood appreciation for music all too quickly. We try and regain some of that magic, it’s basically a group of grown-ups being very silly.”
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Not So Silent Movies continues to draw audiences of all ages, while Mr Sheppard believes its success has relied heavily on the inevitable chaos of unrehearsed music.
He said: “We end up with as much slapstick on stage as on screen. There is such a buzz from playing with no safety net.
On one occasion, regular bassist Guy Pratt, known for his work with veteran rock band Pink Floyd, left the audience helpless with laughter when he stepped in at the wrong moment.
“Audience interaction plays a big part in how it works,” Mr Sheppard explained.
“On April Fool’s Day we all swapped instruments and asked a 5-year-old girl to come up and conduct the band. It was an incredible experience.”
On Sunday, the regular band was joined by Oscar-winning composer Stephen Warbeck and Brian Selznick, the author and illustrator of Hugo.
The performance explored new territory as Mr Selznick narrated a silent film of the Apollo space missions with excerpts from Hugo, which was adapted for film by Martin Scorsese in 2011.
While the season is due to finish in December, fans will not have to wait long as Mr Sheppard is planning a new schedule for 2013.
He said: “We’ve got some big, household names on the bill which we’ll be confirming very soon.
“If this project proves anything, it’s that silent films appeal to anyone and everyone, from four to 94.
“These films don’t need CGI to make their point. They’re still totally fresh.” The current season finishes on Sunday, December 2 but will return again in the new year.