Adina Nelu playing the flute in group ACMG. Photo credit: Joe Stevenson. Permission for use from Adina Nelu
Classically-trained film composer Adina Nelu from Swinton has won national recognition to support her work.
Nelu, who has a Master’s in music composition from the University of Salford, focuses on sound as a means of storytelling and music as metaphor which makes her work ideal for movie soundtracks.
The composer was recently made an award from the Help Musicians UK ‘Do it Differently Fund’ and in February 2021 she was selected for the BFI Network x Bafta Crew.
The BFI Network x Bafta Crew programme aims to support the next generation of film, games and television talent through insights from Bafta winners and nominees, and a community of peers and future collaborators.
Nelu almost missed out by not even applying. Now she is the only composer in the North West to have that accolade.
She said: “I only found out about this opportunity right before the deadline, so I dropped everything and worked on my application for the rest of the day.
“In fact, I wasn’t even sure if this was meant for composers the entire time I was waiting for the outcome.
“In the application I had to write about myself and my work, and send over a few examples of my music. Selecting the music is always the hardest part for me.”
Bafta Crew is a talent development programme delivered by Bafta in partnership with BFI.
As a member, she is part of a community of emerging professionals working in the film industry that have been handpicked by Bafta to be supported in their development and given access to learning opportunities, such as masterclasses held by Bafta awardees and other industry professionals.
She said: “For instance, the other day we had a (virtual) round table discussion with Segun Akinola, the composer currently working on Doctor Who.
“Getting a glimpse into his creative process was an amazing learning experience, especially given that watching Doctor Who was one of the things that got me into film scoring years ago, when I was still an undergrad student in Bucharest.”
She is the only composer from the North West selected for the Bafta crew.
She said: “It was really humbling for me to find out that I was the only composer from the North West selected for this. There are a lot of disarmingly talented and skilled people selected for this and being one of them is really inspiring, but also surreal.”
Adina also worked on the feature film Huey. The film centres on a failing writer who is struggling with his rocky mental health and it is directed by Brenden Singh.
She said: “Brenden, the director, found my work via Instagram and quickly emailed me the script and the brief. Huey is the second feature film I worked on and I was so excited that the brief took me in a completely different creative direction than my previous work.
“The music is a blend between classically-inspired material and eerie sound design, which makes for a great aesthetic contrast. I’m classically trained, so that side came quite easily to me, but the real challenge was setting it in a different context using experimental sound processing techniques, which was the fun part.”
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“For Huey’s Theme, for example, I used both Impressionist and Romantic elements in the piano part, that works together with random noises and lo-fi intrusions to illustrate the protagonist’s character: how he thinks highly of himself and his work — the classical, sophisticated side —, and how he truly is, which we get a glimpse of through the glitches and sound design.
“One of my favourite pieces to work on was ‘Transformed’, which is a bonus track. A well-kept secret: at its core, ‘Transformed’ is actually a slowed down version of ‘An Obsession’ — if you listen carefully you’ll hear those Baroque harmonic tensions in the background, it’s just that they happen very slowly, almost too slowly to catch.”
“It was amazing for me to play with what was basically a stretched-out texture, give it a contour and a narrative to follow solely through timbral development.”
You can find out more about Nelu’s work on her website.