Hello Composers, Mike here! =)
Today I have the great opportunity to share an interview I did with Vic Jones, who is a composer for film and TV.
In this interview, Vic will give you tips and insights into how to score music for picture. The creative side, the technical side, and even the business and networking side. He will also share his story and journey.
1. First tell us about your musical background, and your journey to become a professional composer.
My name is Victor Lloyd, my core background in music is that I am a violinist, I first started to play the violin at 9/10 years old in primary school.
Only in the past 3 years I discovered, that I wanted to be an orchestral/film composer, so I have been studying privately in Theory, composition and orchestration. Up to date I have scored 5 movies, 1 being an animation and already booked to score two films this summer.
2. Let’s say you just got a new gig to score a movie. Can you give us an overview of your complete workflow from start to delivered product?
It all begins in pre production, before the movie goes into production, the director send me a copy of the spec script, not the shooting script. He/she asks me to read the script along with ideas of how they want the music for each scene.
I have a quick read through the script and let the director know that everything looks ok, I wait patiently until we reach post production, that is where my job actually starts. I tell the director not to send me the rough cut version, that is one thing I do not compromise.
I make it clear from the start that I only want to start work once they have the final cut. I don’t want any messing about after I have finished the scores with the timing of the cues, hit points etc.
We then have a spotting session via Skype, we watch the film together and discuss where we are going to put music, they are usually very specific to the mood and feeling they want to convey through music. I take down notes in Logic which is what I use to score, along with the time codes where the music is to start and finish.
Once I have finished all cues I send them to the director and see what he/she thinks, sometimes I have to go back and change some parts. Once all is finished, I export the stems and send them over.
3. Would you mind giving some tips on the technical aspects of film scoring (ex: cues, sync points, timing, tempo, mood etc.)?
It is very hard to give technical tips without any visuals, but what I can say in writing is READ THE BRIEF! When the director sends you the notes before you do the spotting session, you need to know exactly what he/she wants, so when you spot the film together, it’s not just the director doing the talking.
You also need to talk and have input, sometimes the directors decisions are not always right, this is why very little of the time you need to already have a clear plan what you believe the director wants, and if you feel something is off, you need to speak up and explain your point. But you can’t do that if you don’t have a clear vision of the project or know the direction what the director wants for his/her film.
4. What are your go-to software instruments & effects?
Orchestral Tools is number one for film scoring, I layer the strings with CSS for that silky lush sound.
5. For aspiring composers who wants to break into this industry, can you give some advice?
My advice is to stop spamming film director forums, begging directors to give you a chance to score their film for free, it does not look professional, and you make yourself look desperate.
Rather than making yourself look this way, wait for a director to make a post about his/her project. Then send that person a personal inbox, tell them you seen their post that they have a new project, and you are wondering if he/she already has a composer.
It’s just as simple as that, nothing special, not writing a two page essay looking desperate, just keep it short, simple, polite and PRIVATE.
The last thing you want is to trigger other desperate composers commenting on the same post attaching with their demo reels begging the same the same director, so that that reason I say send a private message.
6. What are your goals for your career in music?
Right now my goals career wise are slightly changing, I am still film scoring, but I am more concentrating on writing my own TV series, I can’t tell you what it is about but I can only tell you it is a drama series.
I am very passionate about creating my own series, I was so excited that I told my cousin about it, and she asked if she could be a part of it. So we are now doing it together, I have always wanted to write my own film, but now I am jumping straight into the deep end by writing out a full TV show series.
7. Anything else you want to add, words of wisdom and motivation perhaps?
Even when it seems nothing is happening and you can’t get gigs, just keep going, only feeble minded spoilt brats give up so quick, because they do not get what they want there and then. This is not a career that you become famous with lots of directors hounding you down to score their movies overnight, it takes a lot of time.
8. What’s your website, social media etc?
I run a very successful film scoring group on FB which has almost 7,000 members, we score film and give each other feedback, so if you want to learn the technical side of things which I could not explain above then please join my group FILM SCORING & ORCHESTRATION APPLIED.
My name is Mikael “Mike” Baggström, and I am a composer, sound designer, artist, video creator, coffee lover, and true nerd…
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