Scoring music for a film on sheet music

Becoming a Film Composer

Becoming an indie film composer requires a little knowledge, the right tools for the job, and a lot of passion to make it happen. If you enjoy telling a story and working across disciplines with other creative people, then this blog can help you score a movie.

You probably have a favorite movie soundtrack, and that film wouldn’t be same same without it. If you want to learn to create memorable, impactful music for a movie, this blog will help you get there.

Becoming a film composer just requires a little knowledge, the right tools for the job, and a lot of passion to make it happen.

A bright projector shines in a cinema movie theaterMusic in Film

The soundtrack pulls at the heartstrings of the audience more directly than dialogue ever could, and is a powerful tool for filmmakers to pull the viewers into the world of their characters.

“Music is essentially an emotional language, so you want to feel something from the relationships and build music based on those feelings.” – Howard Shore, Composer, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy

The composer on a film has a unique job. He or she has to write beautiful music that not only sounds great, but compliments the visuals. In the best film scores, the music adds another layer to the story. It can make the emotional highs feel even higher, and the lowest character moments feel like complete despair.

Composing Challenges

For the composer, it is a unique challenge to balance the needs of the music against the needs of the film. Important dramatic beats may occur at any point in a scene, and not necessarily at musically opportune times. The composer has to piece together their music just like fitting the pieces of a puzzle together.

Composing a film score by hand on sheet musicFor that reason, there are many successful composers, but not nearly as many successful film composers. Writing great music is only the first step in a process that involves many unique skills. Add in the real-world demands of working collaboratively with directors and producers while under tight deadlines and even tighter budgets – now you can begin to see why the film composer has to be creative in more ways than one.

For a lot of people, this just makes the challenge that much more fun. If you enjoy telling a story and working across disciplines with other creative people, then becoming a film composer is a great fit.

Composing for Indie Films

The best way to get into the field is to start working on smaller films; the independent (or indie) film world. These films will have smaller budgets and resources than their Hollywood counterparts, but the trade-off is that the people involved are usually more passionate about their work, and the project is often more creative than a blockbuster movie. This means you get to work on projects you believe in, with people who are fully committed to the creative endeavor. Plus, there are many more indie productions than there are Hollywood tentpole features, so there are more opportunities for up-and-coming composers.

“I think that there’s a lot more freedom in the low budget, the independent films where, unfortunately, you don’t have the money, necessarily, to get the orchestras in there to play a lot of stuff. But, you have a lot more freedom, very often.” – Danny Elfman, Composer, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Fifty Shades of Grey, The Nightmare Before Christmas

Check out the post on composer salaries at various levels of productions here.

The DIY Film Composer Blog

With this blog, I hope to teach you about film scoring – the ins and outs of the process, and the workflow that delivers great results, and keeps me ahead of the game. These tips will be geared toward the indie film world, and also DIY composers who, like me, enjoy getting their hands dirty with all aspects of music production.

In this blog, I’ll cover:

So, look around the site, learn as much as you like, and have fun as you start your film composing journey!

If you’re ready to dive right into the deep end and start swimming, check out my ebook (coming soon!). It will take you step-by-step through the film scoring process with real-world examples.

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