It seems only natural that filmmaker Ninian Doff recruited music supervisors Sophie Urquhart and producer-turned-supe Bobby Perman, aka S-Type, for his off-kilter feature debut “Get Duked!” (previously known as “Boyz in the Wood”), since it marries horror and satire.
Doff didn’t want a traditional horror sound; he sought a score and soundtrack that were reflective of his characters. And with S-Type’s background in hip-hop and electronica, and Urquhart’s diverse repertoire as a creative at the U.K.’s Tin Drum Music consultancy, they were the perfect pair to create that environment.
“Get Duked” (streaming on Amazon Prime) follows four teenagers — Dean (Rian Gordon), Duncan (Lewis Gribben), Ian (Samuel Bottomley) and the self-proclaimed rapper DJ “Beatroot” (Viraj Juneja) — as they arrive in the Scottish Highlands to complete a hike as part of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme. They soon find themselves the target of hunters who cull teenagers, and the boys have one mission, to get to camp before dark and stay alive.
Below, Urquhart and Perman discuss how the music came together for the film and break down the film’s darkest moment, featuring hallucinations and DJ Beatroot rapping in a barn.
It’s not the soundtrack that might be expected for the film. What tone did you want to explore with the music?
Sophie Urquhart: The first conversation we had was deciding we were going for a non-traditional sound for the film. Our director, Ninian Doff, had a clear vision of wanting to use hip-hop, which is slightly off-kilter when it’s alongside the idyllic scenery of the Scottish Highlands.
We didn’t use traditional horror conventions or grand orchestral sounds. We looked at the teenagers. They were confident and young with swagger. We looked at what music they would listen to and formed the music around that. And that juxtaposition of that music in this satire of British politics was ultimately the sound we all wanted.
Bobby, you wrote 11 tunes for the film, and this was the first time you’ve written for a film. What was that like?
Bobby Perman: I’ve always wanted to write film scores, and I’ve done a lot of soundtrack work over the years for adverts and insurance. This was the first feature-length. There were 10 transition tracks and it all came together easily and fairly naturally. I started most from scratch with rough sketches that I sent to Ninian, and some others came together after seeing the footage.
How challenging was it to write the barn rap, “Get Duked,” for a scene which is such an integral part of the film?
Perman: That was the most challenging part because it wasn’t a straightforward song structure. It started that way, but Ninian and I went back and forth for a few months over it. There were edits to the film, so I put changes in and added elements in.
I had some ideas and sent Ninian some demo tracks. We went back and forth on emails and he had a rap that he had written himself. I made a rough structure around it and over time we looked at the mood and tone and just collaborated sharing ideas, and we worked with DJ Beatroot to bring it together.
What elements did you want to bring together in that barn rap?
Perman: Music that I produce generally has a dark melancholy feel to it with high energy, and that’s something we had spoken about in getting the song to come together. But it draws on drum-and-bass, hip-hop, urban, soul and funk.
With that track, there’s a reprise that comes later in the film when the boys are chasing the Duke. The reprise was done by composer Alex Menzies, who is from Glasgow. He took my piece that I had written on the computer with drum samples, and he made an orchestral version of it, and that was so amazing to hear. This piece of music that began life as a computer tune, and suddenly it’s got this big brass sound to it for this film.
Did you know how integral that scene was to the film when you were working on the song?
Perman: I didn’t even know how important that scene was to the film until after the movie was done, because I hadn’t seen that moment.
Urquhart: What I loved about that scene and that moment is that It’s where all these different storylines and characters come together, and suddenly you’re in this crazy hallucinogenic moment, that almost looks like a music video performance.