We Are The Giant

January 2014

Buy Movie

Purchase from Amazon

Music to Picture
The Parihaka children's choir who resited an armed militia

The Parihaka children’s choir who resited an armed militia

Philip composed the score to We Are The Giant, a film directed by Greg Barker, premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival . The other films Sheppard and Barker have worked on together, Sergio and Manhunt, also received their first outings in Park City ,Utah. (Update – there’s a free track to download in this post)

Philip only saw the rough cut of the film and knew he had to be involved.

Philip would initially say that this film is a call to arms, but, the overwhelming modus operandi of the Arab Spring protagonists portrayed is more of a call to militant peace.

A few years ago, when Philip was in Sundance when Banksy was premiering his Exit through the Gift Shop, and he took the opportunity to add some serious value to the walls of certain businesses along Main Street, Park City. He was excited when he spotted this early one morning:

Banksy at Sundance - photo by Philip Sheppard

Banksy at Sundance – photo by Philip Sheppard

He springs to mind as his now infamous image of a rioter hurling a bouquet would be an appropriate logo for the film. In one extraordinary sequence of Greg Barker’s movie, a tidal wave of protesters brandish long stem flowers, not batons or guns unlike the brutal thugs sent to disperse them.

The Arab Spring is a collective, rather misleading term for a groundswell of national protests that have emerged since 2010. It’s no coincidence that this time period correlates to the emergence of direct social messaging, a truly efficient way of negating the deathly hand of state propaganda.

This capacity to network peer-to-peer has also developed in tandem with phones becoming powerful recording devices, meaning that atrocities are now documented at a mere arm’s length, making them harder to suppress and easier to disseminate.

This means that some of the stories portrayed in We Are The Giant make for difficult viewing. In fact, this is a score Philip had to compose when his kids are far from his studio. He wants them to know that this is happening, but they’re just too young to see it in such graphic detail. Unfortunately, many of the young people in the film have no such luxury of choice.

This isn’t a film about politics, it’s a film about us.

People like you and me.

People with kids, with friends to see, with school runs, with household bills, with exams, with mobiles, with meals to cook, with to-do lists, with all the pressures and joys of normal life – except the prospect of imprisonment, torture and death are just as normal and domesticated.

Philip urges you to see this film. It’ll probably make you angry, but will leave you with hope in the fact that some good people do great things.

Philip went for a radically different approach to building music for this movie, it just didn’t seem appropriate to use a conventional orchestra for such raw, real footage. He built lots of new instruments from found sounds, and approached the whole score as a single piece of audio design which morphs from harmony and melody into cascading walls of noise.

This a riot sequence:

This is a sequence describing the historic standoff between the Māori Parihaka people and a huge armed militia in the mid 19th Century. The soldiers were dumbfounded by a children’s choir being the only line of defence that confronted them.

This is a sequence about exile – loneliness & separation (You can download this track if you click through):

Sometimes music & flowers are the best weapons…

People who made this film happen:

Director: Greg Barker

Producers: John Battsek, Julie Goldman, Greg Barker

Co, Producer: Razan Ghalayini

Line Producer: Diane Becker

Cinematographers: Muhammad Hamdy, Frank-Peter Lehmann

Editor: Joshua Altman

Sound Mix: Monkeyland Audio

Composer: Philip Sheppard

Plus: major support from PrettyBird.

Philip Sheppard – new tracks available from here.


  • 2014 Hawaii International Film Festival: Halekulani Golden Orchid Award for Documentary Feature