Composing : Scoring My First Film by Julian Montgomery

Julian Montgomery

Scoring My First Film

I have the opportunity to compose music for my first film. It is a short film that the filmmaker will be submitting to festivals. I've composed music for a lot of movie clips through school and on my own time but this will be my first full film. So, would any of you experienced composers have any words of advice for me?

Allen Lynch

Communication! Get as much clear direction with the director/producer to determine their vision (temp tracks can either be suggestions or gospel). Have a spotting session to assess placement, tone, & to determine where music is not wanted. Be prepared for adjustments and revisions. Enjoy the process. Remember why you were hired. Good luck!

Julian Montgomery

Thanks Allen!

Joel Irwin

I like Allen's suggestions. Find out if you are both 'rookies' but if he has worked with a professional composer before, find out more about his style, and how he felt about his previous experience. If this is not a competitive film for which you sign a contract/agreement, then have something in writing or at least in email about what you have agreed to. I won't go into details here about what goes into it. If at all possible, try not score a unlocked scene especially if your gut tells you it may get changed (for example, you think it is too long). If they change a scene, make sure they understand the impact on the music delivery schedule if it needs to get rescored.

From a artistic perspective, if they give you a link most probably on youtube of something they want it to sound like (or send you a 'temp track'), try to come close. I'll discuss this in a post here within the week about my most recently scored film, but if you can get the 'feel' and tempo the same - perhaps even the key signature and instrumentation (but definitely change the melody! :) ), you'll make a friend with the filmmaker. You want them to tell you they 'love it'. But if it needs to redone, don't take it personally. They don't like your cue - not you.

AND DON'T BE MARRIED TO YOUR NOTES. Be willing to go through your score and pull out notes and other things/sections. Remember especially when your score is associated with a dialog scene, it will be mixed very low. If you have intricacies or complex instrumentation sounds, it will not get heard so don't spend to much time making it sophisticated.

Julian Montgomery

Thanks Joel!

Jonathan Price


Julian Montgomery

Thanks Jonathan! Hopefully this is the first of many.

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