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Topic: Hi - film composer in the making would like some advice please....

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  1. #1

    Hi - film composer in the making would like some advice please....

    Hello everyone.

    I am interested in knowing how one becomes a film-score composer. Not from the writing-music side of things, that I will have to do on my own. I mean from the business side. I have experience writing and orchestrating orchestral music, so that part is not going to "take years". Once I put together a demo, probably a cd and vhs/dvd, what does one do about getting a job scoring a film - what's the process? Of course I expect to be starting off small, doing low-budget indie films, not Lord Of The Rings stature just yet, but how does one do this? Agents? Call producers and studios and beg? LOL

    Any ideas would be helpful, and appreciated. Thanks in advance!

  2. #2
    Senior Member Bruce A. Richardson's Avatar
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    Re: Hi - film composer in the making would like some advice please....

    Meet directors, impress them, and work on their films. It's the only way to get jobs. Demos are an almost total waste of time.

    I got into television and film through theatre. It's all about exposing your work to people who can hook you up. I think it is safe to say that scoring work is an almost total word-of-mouth field.

    The reason demos tend to be overlooked is that people are most interested in how you work in a collaborative environment, and now well you thrive under artistic and deadline pressures...in addition to how skilled you are as a composer and musical dramatist.

  3. #3
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    Re: Hi - film composer in the making would like some advice please....

    I think demos are good if they're "requested"... how else do you show your work? And if your work thus far has been on sh?t films is that really what you want to use as representation of your skill? All people will "hear" is a bad film.... therefore your music will be considered crap.


    Agents? ----- No one cares about you so don't even waste time pursuing it.

    Studios? ---- No one in hell is even gonna take you seriously at a studio. Not even if you're better than John Williams, and quicker. So forget that too.......


    Producers? ----- sure, so long as it's not Brian Grazier and the like. (BTW --- I like Brian -and his brother-, he's cool, he surfs. Not bad either But I'd never try to send him something. Why bother? )


    Focus on meeting people "at your level", that's it, that's the golden ticket..... not much more to it than that.

    Real world stories --- I'm pretty dang connected (wife) and am still only going up for really small films. Another really amazing composer (not to say that "I" am amazing) is married to the head of a studio but isn't doing their A-list summer blockbusters............ and "he's" great!


    Goes to show.... you gotta pay your dues no matter how connected you are. No studio is gonna risk millions on you just because you're good and know people. Composers are always the most experienced bunch of the movie making process. A first time director will be paired with a composer who's done 20 films already. That's just the way it goes...... people (studios) don't trust composers with all that budget, but will trust a green director with 60 mil no prob. That's life.


    Get ready to pay some dues, that's all........... there's no easy way in, no matter what.


    Good luck!

  4. #4

    Re: Hi - film composer in the making would like some advice please....

    Quote Originally Posted by kid-surf
    Composers are always the most experienced bunch of the movie making process. A first time director will be paired with a composer who's done 20 films already. That's just the way it goes...... people (studios) don't trust composers with all that budget, but will trust a green director with 60 mil no prob. That's life.

    Good luck!
    This is so true. I was speaking to an "A list" composer and he said that his real problem is that all the directors that he works with are far less experienced than he is. He currently provides short scores to the orchestrators and is prepared to play his cues to the director on the piano, but does no sequencing at all. For how much longer is the question...

    D

  5. #5

    Re: Hi - film composer in the making would like some advice please....

    The entire process is quite tedious. If you ask around some other forums, you will hear some people say that they have been trying to get into films for years now. It is just something that you have to commit to, and pursue. If you are truly serious about doing it, set your goal. Start by doing some amatuer films, and then work your way up to writing music for a diirector that is completing their masters at AFI. There isn't too many 20 year olds that are scoring a main film in H-Wood, and as it has been said already, there is a reason , Just keep at it.

    Sean

  6. #6

    Re: Hi - film composer in the making would like some advice please....

    I agree with what's been said.

    Although not a musician myself, I'm very familiar with the world of freelance and self promotion.

    You have to have incredibly tough skin and determination…



    It's true when they say, it's not "what" you know it's "who" you know.

    Jobs are acquired through personal relationships .. Clients want to know you, get an idea of your character,.. to sense how reliable/ flexible you are.

    Confidence in your ability is very important.. Not cocky!… clients want to know they can trust you with their film.

    Get a demo together of only your BEST works.. You'll need something to give them ( remember, a chain is only strong as it's weakest link…. one bad composition will destroy your entire body of work).. .

    Meet as may people as possible… and be prepared to be on call 24/7 !

    It's a tough road to pursue.. But on the up side, you don't need to be a great composer.. As long as your skills are average for the industry you'll do well.

    ..once you've established a body of published works, then seek out an agent if desired. (they won't even look at you until you've proven yourself)





    ...best of luck!

    Jeff

  7. #7

    Re: Hi - film composer in the making would like some advice please....

    I've been writing for TV for a few years now and would also love to get into film. I've found though that there are three seperate categories: TV, film and ads. They seem to me to be very different worlds which don't often collide. Even though I've done some fairly decent TV dramas I wouldn't know how to move on to movies as the people I'm working with (directors, producers etc) also seem to want to move into film eventually, but, like me, they have no idea how to make that step. The same thing applies to getting into the world of advertising in my opinion.

    Nick

    -----------------------
    www.messhead.com

  8. #8
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    Re: Hi - film composer in the making would like some advice please....

    It's funny to me now, but I used to have delusions of being a film composer about 15 years ago. I had an amazing demo with live orchestra that was pretty bold and enterprising for a 21 year old kid right out of music school. I was fairly confident that my skills would get me noticed pretty quickly. I found out over the next few years of very diligent attempts to obtain an agent, that I was tragically naive. What I didn't realize in all of my years of daydreaming was that film composing was a total rat race and it took me a while to a. figure that out and b. accept it as reality. I had my sights set on the prospect for most of my childhood so it took a while for the delusion to dissipate. That was before great sample libraries empowered the masses to join the competition pool. Now, it's far more competitive than it was 15 years ago so I don't even think about it as an option. Now, it's a situation where a very small handful of guys are making good money at it and everyone else, of which there are perhaps hundreds of thousands, are struggling and sacrificing a lot to just have a shot at a low to no-paying indy film. Hardly an optimistic scenario for a business-minded person. Probably highly enticing for a masochist, though.

    Ironically, as fate would have it, the game industry in which I joined 12 years ago to get some experience composing has now eclipsed the film industry both financially and (IMO)creatively, and the music composition arena is, while perhaps not as highfalutin as composing for films at the moment, is (IMO) far more creatively rewarding, financially rewarding and more exciting of a field than films. I work on games that have no temp scores, no nervous directors telling me to sound like Elfmann or Williams, no ego-monsters threatening my livelihood on a daily basis, and I'm paid a good rate that allows me to work on just a few projects per year. The bad side is that it's getting harder and harder to break in as it is with film music. If past performance is any indicator of future trends, I would boldly guess that game composing will become more sought after than film composing...hopefully not spoiling the genre like it has the film industry, but probably. By then, I'll be on to full-time Yoga and karate

    -Jamey Scott
    http://jameyscott.com

  9. #9

    Re: Hi - film composer in the making would like some advice please....

    Thanks guys - thanks for painting such a bleak picture for me

    LOL - j/k

    Seriously, thanks for the replies. I know it is going to be difficult, and a long hard road.

    @ Bruce: I appreciate your taking the time here, but refuse to beleive that demos are an almost total waste of time. Maybe not as important as a demo of a rock band trying to secure a record deal; maybe as or not as important as how you work in a collaborative environment, and now well you thrive under artistic and deadline pressures. I just will not accept the fact that a director/producer/excecutive/whoever will not take into consideration the quality of music of a prospective composer. If I am wrong (has happened before) I will have to be proven wrong.

    @ kid: I don't trust anything you say, because you surf LOL

    @ Sean: thanks for the words of encouragement! Of course there aren't too many 20-year olds scoring many major features, and I can think of many reasons!

    @ jsp: Thanks for the insight from a non-musician, and thanks for the encouragement. Yes, 24/7 call is the deal; it is what I expect. And of course the demo will be only my best. I hope.

    @ iocomp: thanks much for chiming in here. Your post was probably the most enlightening and useful. I am glad to hear you are successful in the gaming world; it may not hold the prestige of the major motion picture field, but if you get paid well for doing something you enjoy, then that is a hell of alot more then 99% of the entire population on the planet can say. However, I must say something about your attempts and failure at 21 to break into the film music field. Please do not take this the wrong way, but maybe your "stuff" wasn't good enough back then? It obviously is now, otherwise you wouldn't be able to do this for a living. But then? At 21? I would be absolutely shocked beyond anything had you said "yeah - I broke into scoring for feature films at 21". I am sure your stuff was good, and had alot of potential, but good enough for motion picture? The reason I say this is because at 21 I thought I was a good enough songwriter in my rock band to make it and write hit songs; I now look back on those compositions (14 years later) and compare them to then hits and other artists who were current and "out there", and the stuff I had was not as good. I thought it was back then, but time and experience have proven me wrong. Then there is this european guy I see on a couple of other music forums. He is 25, and writes orchestral music using sample libraries. He hopes to break into the business and to be scoring for film shortly. Now, mind you, he hasn't actually said this, but does give the impression that he thinks he is definitely capable. Is he? No. He may be some day, and his stuff definitely has potential, but he is not there yet. Thing is - he THINKS he is. But his stuff, tho pretty darn good, does not stack up even close to the works of film composers - not even the NON-A-list guys. And he has not written anything to picture yet; all of his compositions are just compositions. So, my point here is people sometimes think they are better then they really are. Am I one of these people? Maybe I am. I guess time will tell.

    Thanks again!

  10. #10
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    Re: Hi - film composer in the making would like some advice please....

    @ kid: I don't trust anything you say, because you surf LOL
    Well, so does Brian Grazier and he's one of the biggest producers in the business. This is LA "dude"...


    Maybe you could post a few tracks and get some feedback.... Anyway, I'd like to hear what you do. I'm also curious to hear this kid. Got a link to his stuff and yours?


    BTW -- are you in LA? What city are you in?

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