Meet the man behind the movie music

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Music creativity and passion flows through John Warhurst and his talent for creating theatre and atmosphere has seen him rise from playing in clubs and bars in Yorkshire to creating drama and suspense on the big screen to win the top British accolade.

Moving to London in 1999, his love of music has been unquestionable and his skills as a music and sound editor in films have been heard in many cinemas in titles such as The Woman in Black, 127 Hours, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street and Hannibal Rising, to name a few of the titles he worked on as music editor.

Backstage in the press Room at the EE British Academy Film Awards in 2013

Backstage in the press Room at the EE British Academy Film Awards in 2013

The 45-year-old has also assisted in films such as Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and the TV series Band of Brothers.

The former Woodhouse Primary and Rastrick Grammar School pupil, saw his crowning moment in February when he was part of the sound and music team on Les Miserables which picked up Best Sound at the British BAFTA Awards.

Born and brought up in Healey Wood Road, Brighouse, John explained the challenges the team faced on the film and how it differed from other productions.

“The biggest challenge was getting all the music that we recorded after the shoot to seamlessly fit the live performances which were led by the actor. Also to create a sound world around them that enhanced the performance rather than distracted or pulled you out of the emotion of the song.

“The director Tom Hooper wanted to give the actors complete freedom of being able to act the lines of the song and deliver them in a way they felt during the take without being dictated to by playback music. This meant every take was different in tempo and emphasis and made the editing process after the shoot much more difficult.

“Working on other films such as 127 Hours it is more about getting the music to tie in with each scene in the film and work with all the dialogue and sound fx. This work is all done in the post production of the film when the film is edited together.

“We knew it was going to be a challenge taking Les Miserable from the stage to the cinema but we were delighted with what we achieved and picking up the BAFTA award was a great honour.”

John started playing music and performing at a young age and was part of the choir at St John’s Church in Rastrick.

From there he played trumpet in the East Calderdale Youth Orchestra and his musical talents did not stop there as he turned his hand to the guitar in junior school.

The performing bug took over and being part of the band Triad, he played at clubs in Sheffield, Wakefield, Leeds and other towns and cities in Yorkshire.

John also passed on his expertise to others when he taught at Treble Cleft which was based opposite the former Post Office on Park Row and shared his knowledge of piano and guitar.

However, it was at the University of Huddersfield, where he studied for a Honours degree in Orchestral Composition and Arrangement and then took a Masters degree in Electro-Acoustic Composition, that his journey into the film industry began.

“It was in the mid 1990s when I was doing my MA that we were introduced to new audio software called Pro Tools. It was top of the range software at the time and would end up becoming the film industry standard.

“I managed to pick it up quickly and in 1998 I was offered an opportunity to work as an assistant in music editing in London and it went from there.

“It’s taken a long time to build up a career in the film industry and it’s a case of working hard and making the most of any opportunities offered, but it does take years”

He is currently working on the Tom Cruise film All You Need is Kill.

“I have always had a love of music from playing my first instrument to playing in a band and recording music. Everything opened up more and the opportunity to work on films was very exciting. Working in this industry you are always working on a different genre of film and with different people so it always keeps it interesting.”