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This is a comments thread about Blog Post: The Single Most FAQ: How to Become a Film Composer by Lukas Kendall
 
 Posted:   Jun 11, 2009 - 8:33 PM   
 By:   nelson   (Member)

Wow I feel very confident about this blog...the only thing I disagree with is the statement, "16 year olds do not know what they want to do". I happen to be 16 and I am one of the only people I know that aspire to be a composer...It has always been my dream to either hear my compositions in a movie or on the radio. I went to the Orange County School of the Arts (OCHSA) for over 3 years for piano. I literally fell in love with music theory, I find myself to be very good at it and have a natural taste for it. USC used to be my dream school as it also my fathers alma mater, but I have been more interested in Berklee school of music. If you take interest in this comment I would love an e-mail for further guidelines to follow. I've switched schools almost every two years and I make friends with the majority of people so I believe that networking will be an easy task when I get older. I'm also positive that I will eventually build strong relations with people of musical power, and if you could possibly help with my progress please by all means feel free to introduce my name to powerful musical composers. My name is nelson and my e-mail is taztrexx@yahoo.com

 
 Posted:   Jun 11, 2009 - 8:41 PM   
 By:   Josh   (Member)

Welcome to the FSM board, nelson. I admire your confidence and drive, and wish you the best in your artistic and professional endeavors.

 
 
 Posted:   Feb 12, 2010 - 6:36 AM   
 By:   contracowboy   (Member)

This is a very helpful blog, thanks. I do think, speaking as a musician, that it is probably not reasonable to think that all the great musicians are in music school, nor are all the great potential filmmakers in film school. John Coltrane didn't go to music school and Miles Davis lasted about five minutes at Julliard before he realized that it was too inhibiting for him. The "jazz" that exists as jazz in the jazz schools on college campuses has absolutely zero passion, you might as well put it over with the science requirements. Universities in general have a tendency to want to "standardize" people into boxes. Kids go to college and take classes to pass the time and take classes not because they have any real passion but because they don't know what else to do.

I'm certain that only a very small percentage of the kids in the film departments throughout the country have any real talent, and they have their talent regardless of anything they're learning in school. I'm not saying that a film department has nothing to provide, but academics should be under no illusion that the best students are in their class because of some ridiculous SAT test, or because they were able to afford the tuition. Conversely, talented students that happen to be there studying film should be under no illusion that they are going to be great filmmakers because of some course of study. Colleges are businesses and there will never come a day when all great art is produced within the walls of a university. Innovation by its very nature is not the product of an institution. It's essence is a little more eternal.

So I would say to that 16 year old young man who has always wanted to be a great filmmaker, that you will be a great filmmaker whether you go to film school or not. It's in you and that's a rare commodity and don't let anyone any institution rob you of your passion.

 
 Posted:   Feb 12, 2010 - 7:48 AM   
 By:   Lukas Kendall   (Member)

I advise people to stay in school or go to school because I think it's responsible. I think it's far more likely that people would later lose interest in music professionally, or not make it and need something to fall back on, as oppose to turn out to be a genius like Coltrane or Miles who might be stifled by an academic environment. Really: these are people's lives and while I am hesitant to give them any advice at all, it might as well be responsible advice.

Lukas

 
 
 Posted:   Feb 12, 2010 - 8:17 AM   
 By:   CinemaScope   (Member)

I think it's hard to make money out of any kind of music these days, let alone make a living. I think Lukas is right, get the best education you can, & do it as a hobby, & see what pans out.

 
 
 Posted:   Feb 12, 2010 - 8:42 AM   
 By:   Marko   (Member)




I agree with Lukas, go to school and have something to fall back on in case you change your mind or things don't go the way you had planned or hoped.

There are plenty of established composers who have a hard time getting work for whatever reasons.


 
 
 Posted:   Jun 19, 2012 - 8:43 PM   
 By:   happyperson123   (Member)

Wow I feel very confident about this blog...the only thing I disagree with is the statement, "16 year olds do not know what they want to do". I happen to be 16 and I am one of the only people I know that aspire to be a composer...It has always been my dream to either hear my compositions in a movie or on the radio. I went to the Orange County School of the Arts (OCHSA) for over 3 years for piano. I literally fell in love with music theory, I find myself to be very good at it and have a natural taste for it. USC used to be my dream school as it also my fathers alma mater, but I have been more interested in Berklee school of music. If you take interest in this comment I would love an e-mail for further guidelines to follow. I've switched schools almost every two years and I make friends with the majority of people so I believe that networking will be an easy task when I get older. I'm also positive that I will eventually build strong relations with people of musical power, and if you could possibly help with my progress please by all means feel free to introduce my name to powerful musical composers. My name is nelson and my e-mail is taztrexx@yahoo.com

Good for you! I know exactly how you feel-- I am 15 and I aspire to become a soundtrack composer-- music is so incredible and I think that it really enhances a movie. Good luck!

 
 
 Posted:   Jun 19, 2012 - 8:59 PM   
 By:   dan the man   (Member)

Go with your dream , young man, don't let anybody tell you otherwise , they don't really know you, only you know you,if you really love something go for it, because if you make it you will spend your life doing something to make a living you love and that is one of the most happiest thing you can do in life, besides finding a great mate or kids etc etc.never listen to people who don't have dreams, they will always try to destroy or keep you away from your dreams, look to people who have dreams, if they are honest they will tell you even though there are tough roads one will go down along with the great ones, it is the very core of your existence, i always loved the lyrics from Ruby tuesday, lose your dreams and you will lose your mind, HOW TRUE.GOOD LUCK, REMEMBER IF YOU FALL, JUMP RIGHT BACK UP, IT IS ALL PART OF LIFE, A DREAM MUST HAVE IT'S REALISTIC ASPECTS, THERE WILL BE MUCH PAIN BUT MUCH PLEASURE AND A POSSIBLE GLORY.

 
 
 Posted:   Jun 20, 2012 - 10:10 AM   
 By:   dashrr   (Member)

Remember

Charles Ives was also an accountant

Jerry Goldsmith was basically a secretary at one time (or writers assistant)

I thought I heard one time that Benny Herrmann made monocles in his dads eye shop

Rozsa, Raksin and Bernstein were all teachers


anyway you get the picture

 
 
 Posted:   Jun 28, 2012 - 2:09 AM   
 By:   Dominic23   (Member)

Message received; I am 51 and I am only now planning a career change into music scoring, which could be total mandess but at 51 you can be 16 again, I reckon! I think the article was realistic if a tad old-gashioned; social networking is important, so also is a youtube channel; of course, ideally you should not upload your fim score effort over a copyrighted film clip, I know a very good composer who created her own spacey trippy videos to accompany her music, built a large following on youtube by airing her excellent sci-fi soundscapes for free, and she is now working ... you never know who might be watching your channel!
The latest wisdom is to gain a following on iTunes or youtube - the same as getting your first novel on lulu.com - and then building a following online, which can convince publishers of your worth.

 
 
 Posted:   Jun 29, 2012 - 2:21 PM   
 By:   skyy38   (Member)

I advise people to stay in school or go to school because I think it's responsible. I think it's far more likely that people would later lose interest in music professionally, or not make it and need something to fall back on, as oppose to turn out to be a genius like Coltrane or Miles who might be stifled by an academic environment. Really: these are people's lives and while I am hesitant to give them any advice at all, it might as well be responsible advice.

Lukas


Sticking with school and increasing your education is ALWAYS responsible advice. Have a strong minor to go with your major because a lot of people in the arts have more than *one* arrow in their quiver.

 
 
 Posted:   Apr 23, 2014 - 10:54 AM   
 By:   10stephr   (Member)

Hi, I'm 14 years old (I'm aware that may be read and then whoever is reading it will just carry on scrolling), but I've always wanted to compose music for films. Reading this blog completed me and confirmed in my head that this is all I ever wanted to do. Coincidentally, I am also completely obsessed by Los Angeles, ever since I visited when I was 10 it has been my dream to go there, just to have a life and find myself, even if it doesn't work, I just want to try, to experience it. And I'm completely crazy, besotted by films, I rent one every week to watch and have so many favourites, I get that after-film feeling, you know when you're still in the film, you never go back to reality? I'm constantly listening to the soundtracks and every. single. time there's a wave of emotions that I can't describe. It's mad, and I'm obsessed.
Thing is (and I'm sorry, I've apparently written more than expected), I play the piano and I mess about and I string a few notes together and there it is. It's perfect, i love it, but it's mostly about 16 bars long, and then it stops. I have the ideas but I don't know how to develop them, into a real film score.
I know it's a lot to ask from a 14 year old, but I can't think what I'd do if i weren't to film compose.
Oh and I'm a girl, I just thought I'd add that.

 
 
 Posted:   Oct 29, 2016 - 9:13 AM   
 By:   Acro5854   (Member)

Personally to become a film composer, it takes more than having the necessary abrsm grades and musical direction, conduction and conduction qualifications. I mean you can only get so far with them. Hans zimmer started out making electro-orchestral pieces in his parents attic with just enough musical qualifications to scrape by and look where he is. You need to have a unique style and sound that one day will be recognised instantly as one of your works, you need to be able to work very long hours, if melodies, riifs and tunes dont pop into your head all the time then you wont make it. You need to be intuitive, creative, think the unthinkable. Morricone thought the unthinkable with kayoate sounds in the good the bad and the ugly and it was a fantastic idea. It was a phenomenal score. A huge imagination is for all intensive purposes, i believe, a crucial requirement for the career. My dad (a very vivid morricone listener) would always praise me because i had such an ear to music and come up with absolutely pheonemal and superb tunes and melodies on the spot in my head and transfer it onto music production software. But i cant make it in film music because i literally have no music qualifications whatsoever but also cannot read sheet music for my life. I just listen to film and tv music 24/7 and have a passion for listening. So you need a great, big imagination brissling with ideas. And the longer your in the business the more difficult it will become. John Williams have written an incredible collection of music in his career but very little of any of his recent work is of the same standard it used to be and isnt original anymore. A Passion for it will get you far. Not just a knowledge of the art is not enough. Dont right typical, bombastic, loud trans-atlantic soundtracks where its just a blurr of sound. You can still right an action piece just pay more attention to the specific melodies of certain instruments instead of just going for the 'Ohhh Letts Use Every Bloody Instrument Available In An Orchestra At Once And That Will Be Enough To Keep People HAPPY' Score. My best advice is to actually read composers autobiographies or biographies and get a jist of how they did it. A good read would probably be Ennio Morricone, John Williams, Hans Zimmer and some of the older (yet still brillaint) composers like Elmer Bernsteina and Alfred Newman.

 
 
 Posted:   Oct 29, 2016 - 12:20 PM   
 By:   bpdl   (Member)

I'll share my 2 cents since I was a hopeful teenager not too long ago (still hopeful, but a few years older).

You need a good foundation in the fundamentals of music (harmony, counterpoint, orchestration, etc). A university or conservatory may suite you well or it may not. It's a lot of money to invest in a career that isn't known for being financially rewarding for most people. You can learn much of what you need to know from books and private studies. There is a ton of literature out there now that the composers we all admire didn't have a few decades ago. I don't advise relying on sequencers and MIDI, though you will need to know all of the technology. You need to see the music on the page to write really well for live players. Not everyone will agree with that, but if you plan to ever have your music played by an orchestra you need to know how to write for an orchestra.

Listen to tons of music and not just film music. Listen to all of the classical masters from all periods. Every time you hear something you like, buy the score. School and books will only teach you so much. Everything you need to know (maybe exaggerating a bit here) can be found in the score. Build a library. Dover scores can be found cheap. OMNI is publishing film scores. IMSLP is free. There are a ton of low cost box sets of concert music that are great like the Brilliant Classic boxes or those by Sony.

Film scoring is a multidisciplinary field. It takes more than being a good composer to survive. You need to be part musician, part psychologist, part business man. Having a minor or second major is a good idea. This does not mean that you are planning for failure. Having a job in a non-music field doesn't mean you can't score films, it helps keep you fed and puts a roof over your head!

Going to a school that has a film department will be a good idea. Or being in a city where films are being made. Learning how to make music for little to no money is the best practice. There are a lot of people who spend tens of thousands of dollars for a degree and think they will be scoring the next mega-million dollar blockbuster fresh out of college. Plan on not making a cent off of your music for a long time. That's just the reality of any creative industry. Once you have proven your skills, you'll move up the totem pole.

It's a long and winding road, but if this is something you really want go for it. Be aware of the practicalities though. If you live in some tiny village in the middle of nowhere and your family isn't able to financially support you, film scoring may not be something that is practically viable. Music, especially film music, is not a cheap field to get into.

 
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