RT Well, I wasn’t as busy on this series as I normally am! (laughs). I think it was important for me as the creator of such a unique series to follow it through in all departments. It was great to be able to direct the first couple of episodes and to tell the actors how they should portray their characters. I didn’t want them to ham it up. They needed to act in a serious way so that their characters would have the right sense of vulnerability. In fact it was a very special moment for me the first morning of filming. I walked on to set and saw all of these colourful characters, the ones I had had in my head for so long and it was like meeting old friends. It was a great experience. The music was something that I believe to be an integral part of the series and I wanted it to reflect the diversity of genres the series incorporates.
Q Was the music especially written for the show? How long did it take?
RT That’s an interesting one because some of the songs have been 40 years in the making! There’s a song I wrote when I was a child about my dog; Shona and I wanted to capture that innocence in the programme. The simple 4-chord structure of the song suited the mmod of the show. About 70% of the music was written during a 3-month period and some of it was written when I was on holiday over Christmas. I’d pull a cracker, open a present and write a song whilst chewing on a turkey leg!
The inspiration for the music was really old style Hollywood as well as the Beach Boys music, “American Graffiti” and “Grease” soundtracks.
Q The music is recorded by real musicians using real instruments. Is this unusual practice for a television show?
RT Yes, it is quite unusual nowadays. Most music is ‘artificial’ at the moment but I feel that the audience deserves the best. I can certainly tell the difference between a real violin and a synthesised one! The soundtrack to Atlantis High was performed by some incredibly talented musicians. We actually had an eighty-piece orchestra and some of the musicians are from the New Zealand Symphony.
I wanted to get back to the kind of Hollywood era where a conductor would almost create the music as the film went on.
I’m very proud of the soundtrack and think that it adds something really special to the series.
Q Will there be an Atlantis High 2?
RT Yes, I have every hope that there will be. We will continue to make our programmes if the audience want more! The Tribe is now entering its fourth year and the loyalty of the fans is fantastic. I’m sure that Atlantis High will attract a similar cult following.
Q What is next for Cloud 9?
RT Well, as I have mentioned, the next production is Tribe 4. And we have many other ideas in development at the moment, some really very exciting ones.
Q The Atlantis High show reel was recently screened at the MIP television conference in Cannes, France. Was it successfully received?
RT Yes, the reaction was phenomenal and the buyers were blown away! I really have every confidence that this will prove to be a huge success around the world.