On the 30th of October 2016 ten composers in the Film, TV and Gaming industry will be coming together to perform their music live to picture at an event in LA. What makes this event unique is that all of the composers are women. In an industry where only 1-2% of films are scored by women, these composers are forging their way, creating music - beautiful, inspirational, colourful, dramatic, individual music. They work in film, in TV and in gaming, they create concert music and they perform. They are living the life of vibrant musicians.
What do all these composers have in common other than that they’re all women? They all say YES. They say yes consistently to projects and opportunities in their lives - they all said a very enthusiastic yes to taking part in the concert!
Why is this important? Well, for one big reason - It is impossible to move forward, closer to your goals without saying yes. You reach a goal by saying yes over and over and over again and all those small yeses get you to your destination.
What do I mean by saying yes? After all, it’s easy to say yes to a film project that’s going to give you live musicians to work with, that is going to pay you a huge amount of money. But the reality of starting out is that your yeses will be for less obvious choices. It will be saying yes to scoring an obscure doc for no money, it will be saying yes to attending a networking function that doesn’t seem very useful or helping out on a film set in any way you can. It will involve saying yes to things that don’t necessarily involve music or that aren’t the exact opportunities you were hoping (or planning) for. It means having a very firm goal in your head, saying yes to life and then letting things happen.
The best opportunities usually turn up very quietly; they frequently don’t seem like opportunities at all at the time or sometimes even seem like obstacles or failures and it’s only in retrospect that you can see the path they lead you down.
We all know the story of how Harrison Ford landed his role in Star Wars; he was working as a carpenter and doing some acting on the side. He was known to George Lukas, having done some carpentry for him and was offered the opportunity to read lines to help Lukas audition other actors for principle roles. Ford read so well that Lukas offered him the part and the rest, as they say, is history. I very much doubt that reading lines to help other actors audition was a dream job for Ford, but he said yes and it opened a huge door.
And then there will be times when an opportunity turns up that seems far too difficult or scary, where you’ll feel as if you’re not up to it, where the temptation may be to say no, I’m not ready. Well, the advice to say yes still stands….say yes and figure out how you’ll do it afterwards!
Of course, there is more to success than saying yes, so we asked each one of the ten composers: “What one piece of advice would you give someone starting out in the industry as a composer?”
Here are their responses in their own words:
"Write for anything and everything. Take on shorts, personal branding, promos, etc in different styles. You'll quickly learn where your strengths and weaknesses are, and may surprise yourself in both. Also, never forget the person who gave you your first paying gig, especially if you worked well with them." - Dara Taylor
"-Write something every day. Whether new pieces or a development of previous themes- just do it! It will keep your creative energy going to make sure you'll never run out of ideas; I follow it and rarely get a writer's block.
-Don't write too many notes; It took me a while to learn as a young composer: less is more!
-Deadlines are the ultimate inspiration. Set your deadline early - and the music will come to you earlier.
-And the best advice I received while I was studying film scoring at USC, by Dan Carlin: be nice, work hard, get lucky." - Nami Melumad
"When considering a project, it is worth taking if it has 3 out of 5 ingredients.
1. Is it inspiring to score?
2. Nice people to work with and worthwhile contacts?
3. Good money?
4. Will the film, tv show, or video game have a far reach to move your career forward?
5. Budget for live musicians?" - Julia Newmann
"The one advice that I know worked on myself is: Be diligent. Set up a schedule that works for you and stick to it. Put in time every day whether it's to set up your business, get a rep, or to better your craft. It doesn’t have to be hours and hours on end- that usually just ends up being too intimidating and you end up not doing it at all. If you just put in a little bit of effort every day to contribute to your goal, everything else seems to fall into place. You start to do it more and put more time into it." - Jojo Draven
"My one piece of advice is to always be authentic and true to your own individual voice. Find that very thing within you that inspires you and go with it. In my experience, being versatile is absolutely valuable and essential, but its your originality that will allow you to shine and excel in this industry." - Layla Minoui
"Always cultivate your personal artistry within the many layers of your collaborations, and take time to reflect on the dynamic creative process. It can be enjoyable! Be curious about how you can integrate your individual expression and the collective project. Take pleasure in the conversations with your creative partners and with yourself. Keep an expansive vision of what is possible in the art form. Remember why you were drawn to this business of music and story in the first place. At its best, a film score in any genre can open hearts, minds, and ears, communicating what words cannot, and awakening the audience to deeper potentials." - Ronit Kirchman
"When people ask me for advice when they are starting out in the industry I tell them success can take a long time, so they need to have a long term vision and to be nice to themselves in the meantime. It is so rare for things to happen overnight. They may need to have a day job for a while, maybe even for a number of years. They will experience too many rejections to count and many failures. If you are constantly beating yourself up then you will be miserable. If you have a long term vision, and are willing to hang in there and make small steps of progress, then you will be a much happier person. If you are working hard and inching forward, you are going to be OK. Most importantly: if you can't enjoy the journey, then maybe you are in the wrong gig." - Catherine Grealish
"Be you. You are unique. There will always be someone else who programs drums better, who works faster, who orchestrates better, who plays more instruments. But nobody else is you, nobody else has your combination of skills, life experience and imagination. Take time to work out who you are as an artist and as a person and then be true to that. You will sound authentic and that’s what people will come to you for." - Arhynn Descy
"Well, first of all, know going in that you’re stepping into one of the most competitive environments that exists, and I’m talking about composing for media in general. Arm yourself to the teeth with skills, I mean compositional skills, orchestrational skills, technological skills, everything, you can’t have enough at your fingertips. It’s also great to play homage to other composers, you learn a lot by doing it - every composer through music history has done it. I mean Bach walked a hundred miles to hear Buxtehude play the organ, that’s the same tradition.
Listen to other composers work and transcribe what you hear is another great way to learn. Then hone who you are as an individual artist - that’s what will get you really noticed.
And then go and meet people!" - Eimear Noone
We'd love for you to join us for:
A Special Evening of Live Music - Celebrating Women Composers in Media!
Free Admission, Advance RSVP Required, Sign Up Here!
The Ebell of LA, 4400 Wilshire Boulevard, LA 90005
Sunday, October 30th, 2016
Doors open at 6:30pm. Program starts at 7:30pm.
Drinks & light refreshments at 9pm.
Deborah Lurie, Arhynn Descy, Jojo Draven, Catherine Grealish, Ronit Kirchman, Nami Melumad, Layla Minoui, Julia Newmann, Eimear Noone, Karin Okada, and Dara Taylor
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