Truth be told? Creating a Top Ten List about art is a dubious and pretentious endeavor at best. My goal was to create a format to be able to share my life and experiences in an effort to spur your mind and help you on your way.
Dreams. Goals. Desires….
…we all have them. Maybe you want to be famous? Maybe you want to be rich? Or, maybe you have such passion for the work that all you want to do is to have the opportunity to be engaged in the process of doing it more regularly.
If I were presumptuous to give you advice it would be these two things:
- be yourself!
- never, ever, stop learning
Think about it. There is only one of you. That, by definition, makes you unique. Celebrate and embrace your individuality. This is what will differentiate you from everyone else! The hardest thing for any artist to do is to understand and be clear about who they are. Give yourself some time for reflection to figure out who you are and what you want to be.
What do I have to do to “make it”?
If there is a “myth” we haven’t discussed it would being successful in life (let alone being a film composer) is not a destination to reach. It is a process to engage in!
There will always be new challenges to face, hurdles to leap and mountains to climb. Embrace these as problems to solve. Remember that very few problems do not have answers….they may just be difficult for you to see. I am very confident that if you are engaged in writing music for film that you are a “creative problem solver”. Learn to apply this special skill to everything obstacle you face and I guarantee you will be surprised at the results.
I’ve talked about branding, marketing and sales…methods to help you reach your goals.
There are no guarantees in the music business OR life! It may sound trite but remember that expectations not met create disappointments.
- Be engaged in the process without attachment to a specific result.
- Be in the moment rather than dwelling on the past or fantasizing about the future.
- Be kind and generous with everyone you meet…you never know when they will re-emerge in your life.
- Being an artist is a noble endeavor…one that feeds your soul and affects all who listen to your work.
9. “ All I have to do is write wonderful music and I will be a success”
I think it would safe to say that if you are reading this you have a passion for music. More than likely I wouldn’t be surprised if you spent large amounts of time pursuing your passion. Some might describe it as an addiction, a compulsion, or worse. They are most likely correct in their assumption. Not to worry- to achieve your goals all of these attributes are needed and more.
You might be prone to sitting at the piano, composing or improvising– envisioning your music being heard in a darkened room with hundreds of people sitting in rapt attention. There is nothing wrong with that either.
Undoubtedly there are some of you who have a healthy ego and believe that your musical skills are well suited to the task. You’ve studied Mozart, Beethoven, Mahler, Strauss, Ravel, Debussy, Stravinsky and more. You’ve also are fanatic about the latest scores from James Horner, John Williams, James Newton Howard etc etc.
You’ve also done your homework regarding popular music. You understand pop, rock, rap, rave, electronica. I imagine you are a programming whiz…highly adept at making samples and sequences rock.
All of what I’ve described above are pre-requisites for a career in film music.
But, and this is a big but, most of this really doesn’t matter to a film director.
Did you hear me? …it doesn’t matter.
They may appreciate your expertise but at the end of the day all they will truly care about is whether or not you can deliver a score that will help their movie be successful.
Directors, in my experience, are single-minded people.
From the moment they begin a project they are, and have to be, consumed with their movie. Directors not only have to answer to studios, investors etc.,hey constantly have to manage everyone who is involved in the process. Can you imagine being asked questions from everyone you see 24/7? I can’t imagine being in that position…it has to be exhausting.
Why is all of this relevant to the statement above?
Music is only one part of the process of making movies. In a sense you are part of a hierarchy that includes, actors, production designers, cinematographers, writers, producers, lighting designers, costumers, editors, dubbing mixers, adr engineers, gaffers, best boys, etc.
Important points to remember:
Understand your place
Be prepared (know the story, the cut, each character, their back story if possible)
Learn how to communicate effectively (more on that in subsequent posts)
Above all- don’t waste your director’s time. Time is their most important asset.
Being talented enough to be able to write wonderful music is a given. It may even get you a meeting.
Being talented will only take you so far.
Acknowledgement and understanding of what I’ve said above will be needed if you want to create a career as a film composer.
Coming next: #8- “I’m the composer- I’ll write what I think is best”
In these uncertain times I often think back on how I got to this place and date in my life.
I guess this all goes back to my Mom. Why is this relevant to music?
Being and living the life of an artist in these times is uncertain at the least and extremely challenging at best. It is the lessons learned in childhood that shape how and what you will become later in life.
Mom would use these phrases, among others, to reassure when I had my doubts:
“Be the best you can be-that is all you can ask of yourself”
“Giving is the same as receiving”
” Your talent is a gift-honor that gift-don’t take it for granted”
Mom didn’t really understand music but she did understand people and life.
I’ve had many, many challenges in my life. I’ve had to reinvent myself numerous times, push through my uncertainties and face my fears…all in search of being the best musician I could possibly be. My defense was this: “if I always did my best and it didn’t work out I could walk away from the success or failure with a clear conscience…I could do no more.
Now I can’t say I’ve always been successful…but I will say this: Regardless of whether I reached my goal or not, I have always learned something…maybe not what I expected.
In every situation we are faced with a choice: “Do we just get by? Or do we choose the best solution-regardless of the cost personal or emotional?”
Me? I seem to take the latter rather than former….with out regret. The “easy” way out has not been an option.
The reward? It has always served me well to the “best that I can be”-that is all I can ask of myself.