Pro Advice for Film Composers

because I whenever I talk in film area and I'll give this talk even if his people who are not interested in film because what I tell people is that whatever you're doing could always end up in a film or whatever you're doing could always end up in a video game I use those we're in a TV series I use the film and video games very closely because those two worlds or audio-visual worlds but they're very close as far as what the contracts are looking like these days what's involved in the writing the the money is different you know I'm going to completely on the the end result it's a lot of times different but they're interesting to to interesting fields which are very closely related which the plot a lot of people don't understand but if I said go to a movie if you want to write for them be a film right and you're you're thrilled but go to a movie figure out what types of music are in films you're sitting there you see underscore that's like James Horner or John Williams or James Newton Howard or Howard sure is the bulk of music in a movie with that you know if that's not easy a lot of those guys are classically symphonic lee trained they've got experience in that background you don't have to be any more these days because the people like Mandy Newman Danny Elfman feel like that had come from the pop world pop world in quotes so but you do have to know something about orchestration and now music fits into these films but if you don't qualify for the underscore then the other types of music are songs written for a film and pre-existing songs used in a film three types of music in a film so for as you as a writer if you're a an artist pop writing songs out there a hip-hop outright or country right let's go with country because a lot of times you don't get a lot of country songs into films but in those areas if you have pre-existing stuff then you're trying to get the music supervisor or the film to use your record or your song in that film it's already written you have a different type of deal it's called a synchronization license you might get 10 15 $20,000 put that song in a film one time fit feet and but at least it's a pre-existing song you try to get it in there and so but you've got to know where the film's who's in charge of the film's music who's in charge of the music in films to know who to get it to but so that's a pre-existing so ongoing in the film so you really haven't done anything you've tried a contact that people get them interested in your song if it fits for the movie obviously a ZZ Top song is not going to fit into a 1890s English you know movie but so you have to thought people don't remember that kind of stuff they'll send in anything shotgun approach and then wonder why it's rejected but the third type is when if you're writing a song for a film you go to the movies and see what's being being written out there and a lot of times these days they're you've got to be at a major city where they're producing films la New York Toronto London if you're over there which because you didn't need to be close to the action you need to know what's going on what films are in development or pre-production or not in post-production is too late at that point and in those cases they're hiring a lot of Purdue producer writers artists slash could be two or three that combination only because those type of people can produce a hit record or a finished sound in a very short period of time a lot of there are a lot of big writers they go to Diane Warren comes to mind the Bergman's you start looking at that stature of writers they're individual writers but they're because they know how to write fulfill particular do you know did Diane's great she can write what's right for anything but a lot of times the there's no time left you're in post-production the film's already shot a lot of times they're putting in the music at that point you've got a theater date you know an opening date you've got the get the music composed and songs written you've got to get the editing the dubbing everything finished in a very short period of time in the post-production period so you got to write very quickly and you've got to be able to react if all of us in the director or this music supervisor says that doesn't work I need something immediately change it you got to write in whole new song possibly or change the current so on so you've got to know the craft of writing it on and got a no production and you have to know how to work quickly which a writer a lot of writers don't work quick quickly and in this business if you're in dealing with film and TV TVs even worse because the deadlines are even shorter you can be writing something and the things being shown the next week so those fields you have to just understand the constraints of those businesses you know how they work you have to understand that three types of music in each of those film or television and you have to find out where you fit in and then just pursue it that way yeah I got NY you got a USC at all these big film schools you know out there you know that's one area to go to try to connect with those two people at that level you got to find out what independent independent features of films are out there who who they are those you know when good source is the reporter they've got a weekly edition they've got I think four or five times a year a music special edition and it lists all the people who are composing and scoring all the production companies all the people in the executive chairs as they say you know at the studio's at the production companies phone numbers who's that ASCAP or BMI who's in the film and TV departments of those two things but you really have to be close to the acting up and know what's going on you've got to have good material that you can get to music supervisors who are the people who in the main put a lot of the stuff as music into films not the scoring aspect well the scoring stuff is done by the big agents and they're the agents are almost all in Los Angeles so for any type of scoring and it the big names I've mentioned to you or even the medium names or newer names who are doing composing most of them are handled by agents so you've got to get an agent interested in your work that's why the like ASCAP film and television workshop is so important because people actually come out of those workshops where they finished real that they can go to an agent with and so you know that that's when we do it but you just got a bang on doors uh nowhere to go find out where the who's producing what and just don't stop but it's difficult if you're not particularly film and television if you're not in the area where they're producing the stuff you got a problem other areas of music radio stuff like that you can be anywhere in the world these days but you know film and television is pretty particular to certain areas if you're well-known you can do two things you can be living up in northern New York State if you're a big composer and you can still deliver stuff through the internet easily through you know to a major studio in Los Angeles but in the man you have to be worth where the action is

28 thoughts on “Pro Advice for Film Composers

  1. ive been hired to write for a film, does anyone know how to hire a small orchestra or concert band for recording my music and the costs of doing this

  2. Ok. Don't suck and move to LA. Why can't I just sit in my pjs in my room and diddle with my computer and get paid millions?

  3. cool advice I like to be a film composer for any big time director one of these days I mean it's such a fast growing business that's why I want to move to LA because that where most pop stars are fully more recognized

  4. Hey guys! I have a short film channel, and am looking for someone to compose music for my short films! If you're interested please reply! Really need help!

  5. There's a lot of things you can find that don't have music like deleted scenes from movies. When listening to film scores try to mostly pay attention to how the music complements the film rather than the actual music, that should come naturally from understanding how music works and from just listening to it. It also might not be a bad idea to see if any of your friends have any short films they made or something that you could possibly score. You could also try to write "film-esque" music.

  6. Hey, I started at the same age. But it's being two years since then. People have told me that they feel in a cinema with my music. But I never thought of getting a video, muting and do my own score. I study many film composing soundtracks in way to understand in what they put into their songs to make it feel like that. You think I'm starting good? Because sometimes I wanna compose something and I don't know what to do. I'll seriously take that tip.

  7. We all had to start somewhere. I started heavily composing when I was about 13 and studying music theory along with my piano lessons. Studying composition and film scoring in college is helpful especially with private instruction. Schools won't teach you really how to write but help you refine your skills as a composer and maybe help you get some experience. My advice to anyone starting out is to try scoring anything. Mute the vid and put some music to it. As composers, this is how we practice.

  8. 2:26 "Obviously a ZZ Top song is not going to fit into an 1890s English movie".
    I'd like Tarantino's opinion on that.

  9. if i sound dumb forgive me but what training does it take to be a composer? do you need to know how to play many instruments

  10. Would it be worth it to go to Berklee for film composing as an undergrad? I know for sure I'm applying to USC and UCLA where the action is, but Berklee looks interesting. However, it's not in LA. Would applying for Berklee be worth it?

  11. Well, I made that comment 4 years ago, but I've already had a lot of high profile contracts for doing music for games and films. I'd say I'm off to a great start composing music for games and film 🙂 There's a lot of cool stuff on my channel these days, you should check it out, also I've got an official website up if you ever wanna check out what I've been doing lately. Being in Boston in the wake of all these terror attacks, things have been crazy these pays few days…

  12. I would say it's more related to the composer's ability to live and feel the story he is telling. These days from my opinion there is just few composers righting music "from inside". Today’s trend is standard movie with standard music. Kind of musical fast food.

  13. Film composer tend to play the piano as there main instrument of choice and of course need to adapt to playing other instruments, but what if you are a acoustic guitar player and want to be a film composer, does that mean one needs to learn the piano. IF THAT MAKES SENSE.

  14. do it for almost nothing or for free to establish a name for yourself, after one or two free jobs you'll have a big enough name to start asking for compensation.

  15. HOW DO YOU FIND YOUR FIRST JOB. Please help. And a lot of people will say "there is no certain way to do that" well there must be a process that has worked. Please tell me. I need to know where to start and where I want to be and where I am wasting my time. Please respond.

  16. With all the technology today, why cant someone just be living somewhere like Toronto and have meetings through phone or email instead of spending so much money and time in moving to another country and all this hassle? If technology is good enough to create scores online i dont see why you need to be there where the director/producer if you can contact them in other ways.

  17. Thanks for this- you helped a lot of people and with the industries changing and so much more product being out there …we will need the people which can

    1) Play
    2) write
    3) Be in the right place


    4) stick with it


Leave a Reply to Ryan Kelly Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *