A Process For Choosing Your Film Composer


Choosing the right composer is a crucial decision when finishing your film. Good music can either save or destroy years of your hard work. We've all seen movies with a lackluster score with lackluster scenes. If you have the budget to hire a composer, then make sure it's spent on the right one.


Here are a few steps you can take to narrow down your choices to the best one.


Investigate

If you have the time, you should search for composer's based off of their preferred:

  1. Sound

  2. Texture of instruments

  3. Musical genres

Your composers will probably not have enough time to begin with, and challenging them with a film that does not have good chemistry with them will only make matters way more difficult for you.


Trial

Pitch two crucial but different scenes of your film to your composer candidates and ask them to make a musical treatment for what they were given. Give them three days and tell them you are not expecting a masterpiece, but something rough. This will help you see their range and if they have chemistry with you as a collaborator. You can also ask them to tell you what their development process was like for their work; that will help you determine if their work will fit your time and budget.


Discuss

Send your whole film to your composer and schedule a meeting to discuss the movie and their thoughts on it. Find out how they connect with the movie and if they like it. What were their initial reactions? Invite them to come up with original ideas and DO NOT tell them how you want it done. This will only close the door for the composer's great ideas that you will never have.


Choose!

In the end, choose the candidate that has the best chemistry with project and you and also is personally invested in the film. They need to like your movie, be excited for it, and respect it for them to bring out their best work.


Be Upfront

Tell your composers their due dates and budget from the start since you will be asking for a lot of work in a short amount of time. Chances are you will not be able to pay them a luxurious wage either. Make sure you both agree on expectations and compensation, and please respect one another.


Good Luck!

Choosing a composer for your project is a critical creative and logistic decision. Go into the process with an open mind and good intentions, and the worst that will happen is that you may have to move onto another candidate. The best that can happen is a score that you will jam out to the rest of your life.


For some inspiration, check out the scores I’ve worked on with my numerous composers at https://www.reelnationmedia.com/music.


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