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music for TV, FILM, RADIO
Last post Tue, Nov 16 2004 by bruceup, 61 replies.
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Posted on Mon, Oct 18 2004 19:45
by Fred Story
Joined on Tue, Jul 08 2003, Charlotte, North Carolina, USA, Posts 257
I don't see that anyone has challenged what you said about LA, Evan. In fact, I agree completely. If you want to have ANY shot at scoring a major American feature film, LA is still where you need to be...with London maybe coming in second. (So many great British composers doing American features these days.) Folks like Bruce Broughton and others at seminars I've attended all attest to this. More A-list players per square foot...more scoring stages...more world class post-production facilities. You're right...LA is still the epicenter for film music.

But for commercials, TV and the like...living in LA is not such a pre-requisite. I think that was the original question. And of course, smaller-budget indie films are being made in the most out-of-the-way places, and can be extremely satisfying to work on.

We made a decision that being across the country from our families...living in a place we didn't like...simply wasn't worth it. I accept that when it comes to film work, my shot at the "Big Leagues" is severely limited because of this choice. I'll probably never get rich or be interviewed in Variety. But, that's not why I do music...so no regrets. I admit, I'd love to experience the challenge of doing a big-budget movie. But, I've traveled to foreign countries...gotten to work with the London Symphony (at Abbey Road Studios, no less - a dream come true)...and otherwise worked with talented folks from whom I've learned a lot. Not a bad compromise, in my book.

And on the subject of the perception of Americans, I must have worded it badly. I meant the perception our friends abroad have OF Americans. I just remembered a joke told to me (very good naturedly) by a Chilean producer I became friends with while working on a film in Santiago:

What do you call someone who speaks two languages? Bi-lingual.

What do you call someone who speaks three languages? Tri-lingual?

What do you call someone who speaks one language? Gringo.


I'm guilty as charged.
Big Smile

Fred Story
Posted on Mon, Oct 18 2004 22:53
by Nigel Watson
Joined on Fri, Dec 20 2002, Cologne, Germany, Posts 365
You just need to find some work, simple as that. And it is a fact that in LA there is a lot of work being done. There are also quite a few people chasing that work. But a career as a composer in TV,Film or Radio can happen anywhere there is media, provided you have dedication, talent, some friends or supporters and some luck...not sure which is most important. people have to get to know you and your music. The quality of the relationships you build is - I believe - more important than the quantity, so it really doesn't have to be LA. You don't mention your location, calaf5, but if you want to compose for art films, TV or radio most major cities will have opportunites.

I was a touring musician for years, then my band -(Three Mustaphas Three for those who really know) gradually went on long-term hold when everybody fell in love with girls in different countries...aaah, that's another story, but:

I'd always wanted to compose,had written songs, arrangements etc....I suppose I'd been preparing myself without really being aware of it. And I badly wanted a job.

I took some scenes from movies, composed my own music for them. Learned my sequencer well (Notator at the time),learned about MIDI and Audio, programmed and edited sounds. One day,a friend who was working for an advertising agency gave me my first commercial gig when their regular composer was too busy. I listened to everything the director and the editor had to say, put my heart and soul into it. It went well and gave me some confidence (and some cash!).

I was so nervous setting a fee - but the fact is, most people have a budget anyway and you're either happy with what they pay, or you have to haggle, or refuse the job. Isn't it great to get PAID for making music? Be willing to work for free though, or just costs, if you think it will help and you know your client genuinely can't pay. A very important part of the work is learning how music can enhance any kind of performance, so experience is the best teacher. A forum like this is a great resource, too.

As time went on, I made a contact in TV through my girlfriend who was in the business. A producer hired me to do some cover songs for a series (so they wouldn't have to buy the rights to the originals). I did a decent job and he recommended me further. And so it goes on. Once, I actually got a job from some people I'd never met who I'd sent my demo to a whole year before. Just be there....wherever you happen to be, find the people who need music, offer yourself; a break will probably come and then it's up to you what you make of it.

So good luck!

Nigel
Posted on Mon, Oct 18 2004 23:08
by Fred Story
Joined on Tue, Jul 08 2003, Charlotte, North Carolina, USA, Posts 257
Nigel has given some of the best, most practical advice you can get.
Posted on Mon, Oct 18 2004 23:22
by Rob Elliott
Joined on Sun, Feb 02 2003, Salt Lake City, UT, Posts 1654
Great advice Nigel. I live in SLC, Utah and while the indie market is picking up here every year, there are many other opportunities to score. I am still working my day gig (and writing at 4-8 am and Saturdays), but recently just finished a corporate video song that paid enough for me to live 30 days (took 5 days to complete.)

My dream is to some day make the full time route writing. Hard work, good fortune are requisites for sure.

Having said all that, LA would make much of 'making contacts' easier, but as was pointed out, there are many more that are willing to work on spec to get into the good graces of the Director / Producer. - thus the competition has got to be ridiculous (at all levels).

Of course, as Fred alludes, you can have your cake and eat it too (live where you want your kids to grow up and do what you want to do.) Career Nivrana Big Smile

Great discussion.

Rob
what would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?
Posted on Tue, Oct 19 2004 00:11
by Fred Story
Joined on Tue, Jul 08 2003, Charlotte, North Carolina, USA, Posts 257
Rob,

Hang in there! I spent almost 8 years doing music while holding down a day gig. Then one year I realized I'd earned more doing music than the day gig. That was a cool day, and the beginning of our company.

I've seen a lot of guys jump into it, and jump back out when it didn't pan out as quickly as they thought it should. You'll be amazed at how what you're doing now will serve as a solid foundation for what's to come. The experience...the relationships...it all just keeps adding up.

I wish you nothing but the best!

Fred Story
Posted on Tue, Oct 19 2004 01:13
by evan evans
Joined on Tue, Jun 17 2003, Hollywood, CA, Posts 2058
Fred,

Just a quick note, there is more than MAJOR Hollywood film work to be had in LA.

There's being a copyist, a musician, an orchestrator, a recording engineer, a second, writing for jingles (of which there are amples), TV, infomercials, bumpers, benefits, classical, internships, apprenticeships, etc., etc., then there are the resources, both human and historical, such as the complete Bernard Herrmann archives, Jerry Goldsmith, UCLA Library has a ton of TV film music archives, classical archives, musicians to mingle with, directors, producers, events, seminars, major concerts, artists, an international airport and a domestic airport, etc., etc.,

And believe it or not I HAVE JUST SCRATCHED THE SURFACE. Truth is there is so much opportunity that you can be working every day of your life there if you are a go getter and you are going to events and meeting people, attending "wrap" parties, passing out demos, etc. There is literally some opportunistic event occurring every 6 to 12 hours in LA for film composers. Likely more. It is impossible to even approach that level anywhere in the entire world. There are over 25 major film schools, each one turning out the highest quality most promising projects and people in the world.

I think you underestimate LA Fred. Anyone can do a MAJOR Hollywood feature from anywhere in the world. The budgets are so big you could live at the North Pole and still deliver on time. I am not talking about major films. I am talking about the best opportunities HANDS DOWN. BAR NONE. UNDISPUTED.

And you don't need a formula for success there other than perseverance, persistence, and commitment. I have been immersed in half of the worlds major markets for composers. Nothing compares to LA. It is light years beyond what other locales could offer.

if you have one life to live, you speak English, and have a want to be given the best opportunities possible to you, and you are willing to hunt them down ferociously, then you will succeed greatly in the Los Angeles area (including some ancillary jobs in San Francisco, San Diego, and Orange County, as well as some remote work in New York).

Outside of that, you have to listen to these other guys from around the world in order to penetrate and be successful in their areas. I've said my peace. Over and out.

Evan Evans
Evan Evans
Film Scoring Academy
http://filmscoring.academy
Posted on Tue, Oct 19 2004 02:08
by Fred Story
Joined on Tue, Jul 08 2003, Charlotte, North Carolina, USA, Posts 257
Yeah, I guess you're right. We poor yokels from the hinterlands are destined to wallow forever in mediocrity. Ick!
Posted on Tue, Oct 19 2004 05:59
by evan evans
Joined on Tue, Jun 17 2003, Hollywood, CA, Posts 2058
hmmmmm. Ok Fred. LOL Wink

Take it easy.

Evan Evans
Evan Evans
Film Scoring Academy
http://filmscoring.academy
Posted on Tue, Oct 19 2004 16:36
by calaf5
Joined on Mon, Jan 19 2004, Posts 150
First of all - I do live in the LA area.

Second of all - thank you to those of you who actually answered my question.

Here are some of the things I've tried thus far...
1) Researched on-line
2) Made a demo disc
3) Submitted my website to different sites

I just don't know if sending out hundreds of demo discs is the way to go. I don't even know where to send them because I have had almost no luck at finding some list of who's who in the industry. Someone mention getting a Creative Regional Handbook but I have not been able to locate one anywhere.

What should my next step be? Does anyone have a list? What about demo discs...is that the way to go?

calaf
Posted on Tue, Oct 19 2004 17:01
by Fred Story
Joined on Tue, Jul 08 2003, Charlotte, North Carolina, USA, Posts 257
Calaf,

In my experience, sending unsolicited demo CDs is fairly ineffective in getting work. Not that it NEVER happens...just rarely. And we've gotten maybe two or three new jobs off the internet the entire time we've been in business.

I think Evan hit on the key in his post...networking, networking, networking. In that regard, you're lucky you live in LA, since I don't doubt that the networking opportunities there exceed those you'll find anywhere else. Nothing can ever replace a handshake and a face-to-face conversation.

I'd try making appointments and stopping by video editing facilities, post houses, ad agencies, etc. See if you can meet a person and deliver a demo personally. While edit and post houses may not hire composers directly, I've seen it happen that a client - in the middle of an edit - will say, "This needle drop sucks. Do you know a good composer who'll work cheap?" If you get the referral, you've made a few bucks, made a new relationship, and created something new for your demo reel. If that client likes you, he or she refers you to another, who pass your name on to someone else, and on and on.

That's the way it's worked for us at least. These days all of our work comes from referrals. I haven't sent out an unsolicted demo in years.

I'd say start in your own backyard. You certainly have plenty of opportunity where you live. As your reputation and reel build, you'll be surprised at where you start receiving calls from. For example, I'm in North Carolina, and we have clients right there in LA. And the best part is - they called us.

As for making personal appointments, about a year ago we hired a very talented composer fresh out of Berklee. He is one of the few who called to make an appointment and deliver his demo in person. We get quite a few solicitations, so if he'd just mailed it, I might not have even gotten around to listening to it. The demo was sensational. Good enough for me to create a part time position for him...which will become full time soon. He's happy to have the gig, and we're happy to have another talented composer on the team...all because he took the time to make it personal.

To this day I do my best to stay active in the local community, trade groups and the like. I've even been asked to speak at some national trade association meetings. (Which always scares the bejeezus out of me.) You NEVER know who you'll meet and what it could lead to. The more you do it...the better your chances. AND...the more you'll learn about the biz along the way.

Best of luck!

Fred Story
Posted on Tue, Oct 19 2004 18:13
by evan evans
Joined on Tue, Jun 17 2003, Hollywood, CA, Posts 2058
calaf5 wrote:
First of all - I do live in the LA area.
...calaf
RRRRRRFFFFFFFOOOOOOLLLL!!!!!

LOL! Big Smile Big Smile Big Smile Big Smile Big Smile

After all that frekin shit these guys put me through, you are not in freakin Denmark at all! Man the shit I endured for you Calaf! LOL.

Well, congrats on being in LA. So, you know you can call me anytime or email me and I'd be glad to help you however I can if I have a moment.



Hilarious!

Evan Evans
Evan Evans
Film Scoring Academy
http://filmscoring.academy
Posted on Tue, Oct 19 2004 18:50
by PaulR
Joined on Mon, Dec 22 2003, England, Posts 2370
[..
Posted on Tue, Oct 19 2004 19:04
by evan evans
Joined on Tue, Jun 17 2003, Hollywood, CA, Posts 2058
Fred,

All of what you said is great.

Calaf,

I know first hand, and from over hundreds of others how to do the "grind". I actually know the statistics and numbers behind it all as well. Email me:



Evan Evans
Evan Evans
Film Scoring Academy
http://filmscoring.academy
Posted on Tue, Oct 19 2004 19:05
by evan evans
Joined on Tue, Jun 17 2003, Hollywood, CA, Posts 2058
PaulR wrote:
What the devil did you all think calaf was short for? Huh?
Somewhere in the far eastern desert - in a tent?
Oh! lol. yes I actually did. I thoguht he was a middle eastern composer.

Calaf Hachmed Ashibi.

Evan Evans
Evan Evans
Film Scoring Academy
http://filmscoring.academy
Posted on Wed, Oct 20 2004 05:17
by William
Joined on Sun, Nov 24 2002, USA, Posts 5639
What Fred and Evan are talking about is absolutely true. And every young composer here must understand this.

To succeed in film music, you must master the art.

Not the art of music of course.

The Art of Schmoozing. Master that well, and you will succeed.
Posted on Wed, Oct 20 2004 11:28
by Fred Story
Joined on Tue, Jul 08 2003, Charlotte, North Carolina, USA, Posts 257
Well put, William. Smile

I would like to qualify a little, if you don't mind.

Not to quibble about syntax, but some might put the term "schmoozing" in a negative context. I think it's important not to.

As a bit of an introvert, I initially found the effort uncomfortable. But I quickly found that engaging interesting people in conversation is fun. I also learned that it's important to spend most of your time asking questions, learning, being interested in how others work and how THEIR businesses operate. Folks will find it offputting - and you'll generally leave a negative impression - if you spend most of your time promoting yourself. Remember...your most important goal is to make a relationship, not get a gig. The gigs will come organically from the relationships you build. If you like people and find them interesting, this is something you don't have to work at...just be yourself and make new friends.

And boy, howdy - the stuff you can learn! I've met folks who've never given me a dollar's worth of work, but who have become friends I can turn to for advice on all sorts of matters. That helps my bottom line, too. And unless you're some kind of hermit, who doesn't like making new friends?

Fred Story
Posted on Wed, Oct 20 2004 13:10
by PaulR
Joined on Mon, Dec 22 2003, England, Posts 2370
...
Posted on Wed, Oct 20 2004 13:51
by Fred Story
Joined on Tue, Jul 08 2003, Charlotte, North Carolina, USA, Posts 257
Paul,

I know what MY definition of an open question is. I'd love to hear yours.

Fred Story
Posted on Wed, Oct 20 2004 14:29
by PaulR
Joined on Mon, Dec 22 2003, England, Posts 2370
...
Posted on Wed, Oct 20 2004 14:32
by Fred Story
Joined on Tue, Jul 08 2003, Charlotte, North Carolina, USA, Posts 257
Hello again.

I really don't want to dominate this conversation, but I think it's such a valuable one to have. It's real world stuff you don't learn in school or from books. And there's another aspect I'd like to share.

We have a rule here at Concentrix...ALWAYS put the clients' best interest first - EVEN if it means we don't get the gig.

That's tough, sometimes. But we feel we MUST do it. First, we have to sleep at night. Second...it's good for business.

One example. One of my best clients is a major event planner. I've served as musical director for some of her biggest productions. Several years ago she was hired to organize the Pride Awards, a major black community service ceremony. She did what anyone would do...she started calling everyone she was used to working with. But as it turned out, most of us were caucasian. Now, I hate political correctness as much as the next person, but it IS a reality. I asked her if she was concerned about this. Her response was, "Oh my God...I didn't even THINK of that! What do I do?"

First, this thing had really nice budget...and the opportunity to work with a 70 voice gospel choir. I was jazzed about it. But I knew she would score more points with HER client if the ethnic mix of her production team was a little more balanced. As a result, I made some inquiries and gave her the names of some African American composer/musicians she might contact.

Well, it turns out that one of them was a very well known Contemporary Christian artist, and he was hired for the gig. Then a funny thing happened. He appreciated the referral so much, he called me to collaborate with him on the production. This guy was an AMAZING performer, composer and orchestrator; and as it turned out...an equally spectacular producer. The session is one of my most memorable. And the stuff I LEARNED from this guy! Not only that, but he ended up being the soloist with the choir, and it was a HUGE hit with the audience. I ended up making some money on the project, I made a valuable new friend and contact, and my client ended up signing a multi-year contract to produce the event.

Afterward, she wrote me a letter to express how much she appreciated me putting her needs first. It was eloquent and touching. I take it out and read it from time to time to remind me how important our philosophy is. And I hesitate to even call it a "philosophy". Sounds sort of pretentious. It's really just caring about people and being honest.

I have other examples, but I won't bore you with them. Believe me, when you put that client's need before your own, it's a pretty powerful thing. (And yes, there ARE jerks out there who won't appreciate it...but you will have STILL done the right thing.)

Jeeez, I hope this didn't sound too preachy.

Fred Story
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