Having spent the last five years deep in the trenches of the film music scene as a composer’s assistant, I have learned a great deal about finding work with different composers as well as how to maintain that work. Having recently begun my freelance career as a composer/orchestrator I wanted to share the knowledge I acquired along the often bumpy and turbulent road as a composer’s assistant, in hopes that it can provide a much more direct path for aspiring film composers on the cusp of beginning their careers.
In the years of my assistantship, I worked for four different composers, spending the lion’s share of the time working for film composer Christopher Young. I have been an assistant on such movies as: “The Grudge,” “Beauty Shop,” “The Exorcism Of Emily Rose,” “Lucky You,” “Ghost Rider,” “The Grudge 2,” and most recently, “Spider-Man 3.”
My experience in the field has lead me to having written a handbook for all college students or any aspiring composer seeking an assistantship with a composer called:
FROM THE CLASSROOM TO THE SCORING STAGE:
THE COLLEGE STUDENT’S GUIDE TO LANDING A JOB IN THE FILM SCORING BUSINESS
It is an insightful and valuable resource for anyone looking to gain experience with a film composer. In the book I discuss an insider’s perspective of what a composer is looking for in an assistant. It is a very unique book, and to my knowledge, the first one of its kind that exclusively zeroes in on getting the budding film composer working for a composer as fast as possible. It is not a book on how to score films. There are plenty of good books on the market for that. It is assumed that the reader will have some experience writing for film. That is not the scope of this book.
The scope of this book is to get you working for a composer as soon as possible because in my mind, working for a composer is the fastest and best way for the beginning film composer to start gaining valuable experience, as well as earn a living while working in the business. If you are working a “day job” or if you are forced to teach music, but you’d rather be working in and exposing yourself to the film scoring world, then this guidebook will be an indispensable asset for you.
It was only three years ago that I graduated from college. I wanted to write this book soon after my assistantship because I knew those daunting feelings of being overwhelmed by taking my first step in trying to get a job in film scoring would still be fresh with me. I remember the feelings so clearly and vividly and knew I could relate closely to the recent graduate or novice composer. I wrote this manual because it was something that I wish I had when leaving the sheltered confines of college. College taught me the skills to do the job but now how to get the job.
I also learned that landing a job with a film composer is not just luck. There are learnable and tangible techniques and practices you can utilize, that when compounded with the correct attitude and work ethic, can yield very positive results.
In this book I have pooled together the resources and experiences of five composers’ assistants, including myself. I carefully selected four other composers’ assistants that I interviewed to contribute to the chapters for more objectivity. I wanted this guidebook to include experiences, scope and perspectives much broader and expansive than just my own. Some of the assistants I selected for an interview work for lower profile composers, while some of them work for major, A-list composers to give breadth and variety to this discussion of finding work in the film music industry.
So, five years after graduating college, I have not only survived both physically and financially in the film music business, but I have also achieved some level of success. In the book I address such crucial topics such as location. Is it necessary to move to Hollywood to achieve success in film music? I am originally from Canada and used to work for a film composer there. Now I live in Los Angeles.
Other topics that are addressed are education. Now, as the title of this manual suggests, this book was written for a target audience who are likely college student studying composition or film scoring. But, this book applies to EVERYONE interested in working for a composer regardless of education and the topic of, “Is an education a requirement?” is covered.
Still, other chapters of the guidebook discuss such areas as the skill set you will need to begin working for a composer. Now, this is probably the most single important thing you need to know to get a job with a composer. The handbook will explain to you the duties you would be expected to perform as a composer’s assistant.
Also covered are subjects such as persistence, interviewing and internships, as well as what to expect after you land the job, such as how much money can you expect to make, how much time will your job take, how to work on a composer’s team and upward mobility – how to use your assistantship to help launch you into the second phase of your career: the freelance world of film scoring.
This manual has also become a required textbook for Humber College’s film scoring program in Toronto, Canada.
To purchase a copy of FROM THE CLASSROOM TO THE SCORING STAGE: THE COLLEGE STUDENT’S GUIDE TO LANDING A JOB IN THE FILM SCORING BUSINESS click here.