I don’t have to worry about technique
Let me ask you: Have you every tried to build anything? Have you ever tried to put something together without reading directions? Have you ever cheated on a test or tried to get some one to do homework for you?
Let’s say you wanted to build a simple box out of wood. Sounds simple enough. But, if you look a little deeper there are many, many things you need to do to successfully build a square box out of raw wood. First you need a design with dimensions. Then you will need to figure out how to purchase the wood, what kind wood you want. Then you will have to cut the wood to size. Assembly is next followed by finishing. Building a box from scratch out of wood requires expertise (or at least working knowledge) of many tasks. If you are a carpenter for hire there is another dynamic to consider: you are building this box to suit some one else’s taste!
This is not as crazy as it may sound.
Direction (what type of score does the director want) = Design
Budgeting for production/ instrumentation = What type of wood do you want?
Writing cues that fit the film = cutting the wood to size
Recording your score = assembly
Mixing = applying finishes
I meet a lot of songwriters and entry level composers. Invariably when they find out I’m a film composer their eyes drift off as they daydream about hearing their music in film, darkened rooms, tv etc. Internally I chuckle because they have no idea what is actually entailed. If they only knew.
There is very little glamour in being a film composer. It’s just a lot of hard work.
Unfortunately the only way to survive in this business is to have a deep seated passion for it. I always say: “the only thing that will keep you company at 3am while working on deadline is your passion for what you are doing”.
So much to know…so little time.
The truth of the matter is that to be a good if not great composer requires a lifetime of learning and maturing. It never ends. Therein lies the attraction for me…every day is different. As a creative person this is why I can’t wait to get out of bed in the morning.
Of course there are the obvious musical disciplines to be aware of. Add learning about relationships, networking and people to the list. This will carry you as far if not further than any musical chops you may have.
The 80’s were boom times. There was so much work that it became acceptable for less than competent composers to be hired to score films. If you needed help there was enough money to hire a support staff.
Times have changed.
As fees continue to slide it is more important than ever to become the best you can be. From a purely selfish, pragmatic point of view: the more hats you can wear….the more money will stay in your pocket.
From an emotional point of view….there seems to be a direct relationship between knowledge and anxiety. The more you know the more comfortable you will be in every part of the process.
From a creative point of view….if you embrace learning as a lifetime endeavor you will never be bored. There’s always something new!