Nightride was written as an assignment for the Australian Film Television and Radio School’s (AFTRS) 1998 Screen Composition Course with Jan Preston. We were given a short film, stripped of its original score, and asked to write whatever music we wanted to for it.

Nightride, directed by Martin Murphy, is a short horror film about a serial killer on a night bus. None of us had seen it with the original score (which won its composer, Carlo Giacco, Best Achievement in Musical Score at the Exposure International Short Film Festival in Brisbane in 1997) and it was fascinating to see the very different approaches all the composers came up with for the same visual material – and all of them different again from the original score when we finally heard it.

My version ended up being heavily influenced by having to work around technical issues. The soundcard in my computer at the time turned out to have neither chorus nor reverb effects available so I chose my sounds largely on the basis of which ones had a kind of inbuilt reverb – harp, piano sounds at the very bottom of the range, I think there’s some brass sounds used outside of the actual range possible on a physical instrument too. I also decided that I didn’t just want to compose to the obvious emotions going on, but wanted to highlight some of the nastier aspects of the film and use contrast to increase the tension. One of the delicate solo harp passages underscores a visual of blood running down the bus’s steps.

Jan Preston described my Nightride score as ‘containing flashes of brilliance’.

You can see the original film of Nightride (with Carlo Giacco’s score) online at Google Videos