BEFORE she can begin a new course in composing for film and television, musician Fraya Thomsen needs some stars of her own to come to her rescue.
Thomsen, well known in traditional circles as one half of clarsach and vocal duo The Duplets and current musician in residence with Feis Rois, where she had her own introduction to music making, has been accepted on a prestigious MA course in composing for the screen at the National Film and Television School in London.
The much in demand course only accepts four new students each session and Thomsen won her place only after a three part selection process which finished with a five day residency at the National Film and Television School where applicants had to put their own soundtrack to film clips.
"It was just really, really intense," Thomsen said.
"I was working 15 hour days every day. The Film School doesn’t close ever. There are security guards on all the time so you can work all night if you are so inclined.
"I didn’t expect to get on to the course at all, but I just thought if I worked as hard as possible, I would get quite a bit out of it."
However, being accepted onto the course, which begins in January, has left Thomsen with a monetary dilemma as she now has to raise a total of £45,600 to support her over the next two years. This includes the annual £21,600 course fee for each of the two years and her living expenses.
Composing for film has been an ambition of Thomsen’s almost from her earliest days as a musician.
"When I first started playing the harp, I was about 13 and I started composing tunes almost right away," she said.
"People used to say then that my tunes were really quite cinematic. Later, when I was at the RSAMD in Glasgow (now the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland) I did some composing for theatre.
"Ideally I’d love to write music for costume dramas because I love the Baroque feel they have in that music, but another thing I’d love to write for is wildlife programmes because I really love wildlife documentaries."
The course will see Thomsen working alongside sound designers and other cinema professionals for a broader understanding of how music can be integrated into film.
"It’s a tremendous opportunity," she added.
"Last year they had a showcase at the South Bank and two of the composers got signed up by agents straight away."
Thomsen is not the only Highlander to have ambitions as a screen composer and she has also written to Inverness born Lorne Balfe for advice.
As well as being part of Oscar winner Hans Zimmer’s team, providing additional music for blockbusters like the "Pirates of Caribbean" series, "The DaVinci Code" and Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, Balfe is also a film composer in his own right, including providing the music for current cinema hit "The Sweeney".
It is the sort of career progress Thomsen would like to follow, but first comes the matter of raising money for the course, with the first payment due on 1st November.
To encourage support, she is offering a number of incentives for supporters via her website. With options ranging from £10 to over £250, Thomsen is offering supporters music on download or the latest Duplet’s CD "Leverage", harp lessons and even a specially composed piece of music.
"I only put that up on-line yesterday and I was really blown away by people’s response," she said.
"Getting a £10 donation is almost as touching as larger amounts. It’s an understanding that every bit helps and for some people £10 is a lot of money — it’s quite a lot for me!"
Though Thomsen is eying a potential film career, fans of The Duplets should rest assured that she has no plans to dissolve her musical partnership with Gillian Fleetwood.
"All the gigs we have done with The Duplets we’ve tended to do ourselves because we’ve never had an agent," Thomsen said.
"Even when we toured ‘Leverage’, we only did five gigs across Scotland and even then we split it across the weekends.
"I feel confident that we can make both things work."
To support Thomsen, go to: