william baird

Film & TV Composer | Original Music for Compelling Stories

Calgary Herald - Living Proof

Calgary Herald Article on Living Proof Feature-Length Documentary Film - Director Matt Embry

 Matt Embry a TV/film producer with MS has a new documentary on his journey with the disease that will be screened at TIFF next month.  Leah Hennel/Postmedia

Matt Embry a TV/film producer with MS has a new documentary on his journey with the disease that will be screened at TIFF next month. Leah Hennel/Postmedia




Living Proof - Directed by Matt Embry

Living Proof Feature-Length Documentary Film - Original Music Score by William Baird

 William composing the original score to 'Living Proof'

William composing the original score to 'Living Proof'

I recently had the absolute pleasure of working with Film Director, Matt Embry on his feature length documentary film titled 'Living Proof'.

The film will be making its world premier at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) in September 2017. It will subsequently be screening at the 2017 Calgary International Film Festival (CIFF).

Original Score by William Baird.  Score recorded and mixed by Steve Dierkens at Studio D, Calgary. 

LIVING PROOF is a dynamic, fast-paced feature-length documentary that examines the crippling politics of multiple sclerosis. Diagnosed with the disease, filmmaker Matt Embry embarks on a journey to meet top MS experts to find hope for treatment. From Italy to Iowa, he encounters a network of other MS sufferers who ignore neurologists, share their own information and question if Big Pharma, academia, government and multiple sclerosis charities are keeping MS patients from accessing alternative treatments for the sake of profit. 

LIVING PROOF stylistically blends first-person investigative filmmaking, science, and a compelling, heartfelt story of a father and son’s fight to distill the truth and save lives.






Alberta Post Production Fund Pilot - APPA

Alberta Budget Presentation on March 16:

...This includes a one-time increase of $5 million through the Capital Investment Tax Credit, which will help fund two new pilot grant programs supporting interactive digital media and post-production, visual effects and digital animation and help to fulfill existing commitments...

We are very pleased that our hard work of the past two years has come to fruition and that our organization has been a significant factor in this new budget money being allocated to Post Production. Many thanks to the Ministry of Culture and Tourism for their championing of our industry.

The pilot program is funded by budget from the Capital Investment Tax Credit program and will be administered by the Alberta Media Fund. 

3 Mules - Living on the Outside Documentary Feature Film

I attended the IDA (International Documentary Association) conference in Los Angeles back in October 2016, and whilst there I met John McDonald, a filmmaker based in Pasadena, CA. We got talking over lunch and he told me about a film he was making called '3 Mules - Living on the Outside'. 

This film told the story of a man nicknamed Mule who for the last 30 years has been travelling up and down California, advocating the right to keep the trails open for people to use for horse riding and other means of transport other than cars. His 30 year struggle with fighting for this right continues.

I had the pleasure in working with John in providing the original music for his short film, which has since gone on to win several awards, and will be showing at the Sonoma International Film Festival (SIFF) this year. 

The film will be made into a full length documentary, and I so look forward to working with John and his team, writing the music to this incredible film. You can read more about '3 Mules - Living on the Outside' at this website:



The Secret Marathon - Documentary Feature Film

Back in December 2016, I received an email from Scott Townend, a film maker based in Edmonton. He told me that he was looking for a composer to come onboard with a team who were making a documentary about a secret marathon being held in Afghanistan.

Of course, I was delighted to be asked and when I found out more about the story behind the film, I was even more committed to the project. Since then I have met Kate McKenzie, (co-director and executive producer) and Martin Parnell, (executive producer) both who appear in the film. 

Fast forward to today. The Secret Marathon is now a reality, and on Feb 7th 2017, the first trailer was released to help with securing the final funding needed to complete the film. I am so proud to have contributed my music to this trailer and now look forward to writing the music to the feature length film.





15 Stories - Lost Love

In continuing to add more music pieces to my 15 Stories project, I had always planned to write a blog on the process of writing each piece - so here is the first one for the story called 'Lost Love.'

The image I found for 'Lost Love' shows a man sitting on a bench facing the sand dunes on a beach. This photo could have reflected many types of stories, but for me, I felt he was there because this place really meant something to him. The fact that he was there on his own made me feel that there was someone missing in his life......and it was at this point I immediately started to feel that this was a story of lost love.

Having stared at the image for some time, I knew that this was going to be a piece with just piano and strings. I'm not sure why I knew this, but it just felt right. I wanted the music to connect my audience with what it is like to have the one you love taken from you forever - and to feel connected compassion for the man sittiing on the bench.

Having imagined myself sitting on the bench, it brought a few tears to my eyes, so I knew I was on the right track.

 Spitfire Audio BML Strings

Spitfire Audio BML Strings

The strings I used are from Spitfire Audio - this is the first time I have used them. I have tried other string samples before, but these are so realistic and the sound just fits how I write.  I am now in the process of replacing all of my orchestra with those from Spitfire Audio. Whilst adding the strings, I felt that the piece still needed something to introduce his wife's soul into the virtual conversation. It was at this point that I felt that the Clarinet would be the right instrument to represent her. I felt it completed the piece perfectly as the music was to be about them both and the love they once had.

I really enjoyed writing this piece, and striving to work with just piano and strings. I think sometimes it is too easy to start adding more instruments when in fact it can be more effective to just start with what you intended and try and make this work. Admittedly, I added the clarinet - but I  needed this to be the voice of his wife, and to complete the emotion I was trying to create.

It would be good to hear some feedback as to what this piece makes you feel when you listen to it with the image.

Now for the next one.........!

Mixing at OCL Studios, Calgary

I recently had a day at the OCL Studios recording complex, located just east of Calgary city centre. A 40-minute drive from my studio, I headed there to do a mixing session of one of my music cues.

This complex has been visualized and built by Dan Owen.  Dan has effectively turned his rambling prairie estate into a world-class recording facility. He has invested personally on ensuring this facility provides the highest quality of equipment available - but more importantly, an atmosphere  that enables creativity to flow.

Studio A houses one of my all-time favourite mixing consoles, a Neve 88R. I guess I am biased to this desk for two reasons. First, it is made in Great Britain (my birthplace). Secondly, I am lucky to own its baby brother - the Neve Genesys Black. Considering that probably 90% of the Hollywood films scores are recorded and mixed on a Neve console - that indicates just how great they are. Studios such as Abbey Road London Studios, George Lucus’s Skywalker Ranch and 20th Century Fox Hollywood Studios (to name but a few) all use this desk.

 Studio A at OCL Studios

Studio A at OCL Studios

The studio has a number of resident sound recording and mix engineers - namely, Spencer Cheyne and Josh Gwilliam. I had the pleasure of working with Spencer on this particular session.

I choose to use OCL Studios for my mixing for many reasons. I consider myself fairly accomplished at mixing my music. I mixed almost all of the music I wrote whilst living in the UK, and my clients have been consistently pleased with the results. That said, I am not at the level of skill  or expertise that professional engineers working today are at - especially when it comes to using a Neve 88R and Pro Tools. When I gave full control to Spencer to do ‘his magic’ and mix my 2 min cue, I was truly amazed how he enhanced my music. The drums became more powerful, the brass section blew you through the studio doors, and the strings sounded lush. The whole piece came alive. This proves that having the right person for the job really counts.

Spencer was able to take what I do best (composing the music) and then add what he does best - to turn it into an amazing, polished product. 

I came from the old school of analogue mixing desks and 2” tape machines - only to witness musicians moving to a new approach of recording and mixing digitally (namely called ‘mixing in the box’).  It is  refreshing to see that more people are now reverting back to using facilities such as OCL Studios for mixing (especially through analogue desks) because you just can’t (in my opinion) truly emulate this sound in the box.

To illustrate my point, I have put up the initial mix I did, and the final mix Spencer did. See if you can’t tell the difference??


OCL Studios also has such a great vibe about it, it reminds me of a studio I once used in Los Angeles, which was also a residential studio. With so many recording studios closing in the UK, I am so pleased to have a studio such as this, in the city where I chose to live and work. We have to support this studio so it stays here for many years to come, and promote the excellent and professional service it provides.

With the pending opening of the Calgary Film Studio, and recent announcement that Alberta is getting more funding for the TV and Film Industry, I can only see that more filmmakers will want their scores recorded and mixed in facilities such as this. Safe to say, whatever project I work on, you will find me there mixing with Spencer and Josh and making those drums, horns and strings come alive….!!



New Boy in Town – Nov 2015

It is almost 2 years to the day that I arrived in Calgary, from the UK. I remember it well as it was the year of the especially cold Winter temperatures. Coming through those airport doors to my awaiting car, I knew exactly how the Jamaican Bobsleigh Team must have felt when they arrived for the Winter Olympics!

Having left a wet and damp UK, I was looking forward to my new life in Calgary. I love this city. It has such a closeness and honest feeling about it. The people are so friendly and the sun always seems to shine, even at -30…! I refer to Calgary as Disneyland, as the people and scenery are magical for me.

My wife is from Calgary - although we first met and started dating whilst she was living in London, UK. During our visits to Calgary (generally during the Christmas period) I got to meet lots of great people and visit some spectacular places. I remember saying to my wife "Why did you ever leave Calgary?!" After 7 years of being away, she was able to see Canada through my eyes -  that this was a special place to be. One year later we moved here.

Fast-forward to today.  I am writing this blog because, even in the short time I have been here, I have started to see a real change and local spirit emerging in the industry I love - Film and TV. With the pending openings next year of the National Music Centre and the Calgary Film Centre, I feel privileged to be here and to be a part of what is coming.

With our newly elected government and recent announcement that more funding is coming into the Alberta Film and TV Industry - this gives me so much hope that I will continue to work with amazing and talented people, who like nothing more than to tell a good story.

Over the coming months I intend to write about my own story about being here, working in the Industry and highlighting the people who plan on helping make Alberta a key player in the TV and Film Industry.

This new boy intends to get involved with the locals and try to make a difference. This is my city now and I am proud to call it home. I look forward to the approaching 2016 and what it will bring... One thing is for certain - it will bring more snow and freezing temperatures, but hey.. .the sun stills shines... and it is still Disneyland!!

Zak, the producer. 

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