This October we’re thrilled to be working with award-winning composer Laura Rossi on our latest Both Sides Now residency in Leeds.
From 7-11 Oct a specially selected group of female and non-binary musicians from Yorkshire will be working with Laura, composer Christella Litras and industry representatives from Channel 4 and BDi Music to create original scores for three short films, and learn more about what a career as a film and TV composer involves.
The new music will be premiered at this year’s Independent Directions Film Festival on Sat 12 Oct, alongside a pre-screening discussion and Q&A led by Nina Humphreys. More information and free tickets are available here.
Laura has shared with us some of her top tips for musicians interested in a career in composing for film and TV…
1. Be yourself
Always write the music that you believe in no matter what the situation (you can still be ‘you’ whether you are writing for library, film, TV or radio). Although it may seem hard when you are starting out, it will be worth it long term. A good rule is if you love what you have written someone else probably will too. It’s about quality not quantity, so take your time and write something you love.
2. Leave the house
It’s easy to become a workaholic and just spend your whole time on your own writing music, emailing people and being on social media; but it’s surprising how much more stuff comes from random meetings that you won’t get if you just stay home. Meeting people and connecting with people in person is so much better, and opportunities can come from the most unlikely places. So get out there and just do things you love, and you’ll end up meeting like-minded people who inspire you to do things, and you’ll make connections with people you can work with.
3. Don’t take things personally
You may get knock-backs and negative comments along the way (unless you are very lucky!). Remember, it’s often not your fault – some directors find it hard to talk about music, and often they have a better idea of what they want when you’ve written something. A huge part of your job is being a good communicator and finding out what kind of score they want or what the function of the music is. It’s usually best to talk about the music in terms of emotions, so you can get to the very heart of it. There may be ups and downs in your career – you may be very busy then have nothing for a while and that can be hard. But the way I like to think of it is: when you have no work and are feeling down about it, that can be when you come up with your best ideas, because you have the space to think of them. So make the most of those moments too.
4. Get a job
Not a full time job, but when you’re starting out get some work that is flexible, so you still have enough time to pursue what you really want to do (i.e. compose!). When I was starting out I played piano/keyboards in bands and played piano and sang in bars and restaurants and also taught the piano. This meant there were still many hours in the day left to write music. It also meant if I didn’t have any composing work on, it was ok, as I had other things in my life!
5. Enjoy the journey
It’s not all about getting that big blockbuster. For me a successful career is one that makes me creatively happy by working with other creative people. That could be a feature film, but it could equally be a low budget short film, a silent film, or a composition for the local choir. It’s about making music that you love and being inspired by other creative people – that’s what makes it fulfilling. Also, sometimes the smaller projects can be more enjoyable as often you only have one person to work creatively with (e.g. the director), but on bigger budget TV and film projects you often have to try and please lots of people – and everyone has an opinion on the music and wants to give you a ‘note’. My favourite one was – “my flatmates brother’s girlfriend is in a covers band and she thinks the music should be….”!
Good luck! And oh yes…don’t give up – just keep writing, for lots of different things…get your music played live, get it recorded, play it yourself and most importantly HAVE FUN! If you do all that, things will come your way and you’ll make stuff happen.
About Laura Rossi
Laura Rossi is a composer for Film, TV & Concert Works. In 2016/17 Laura was artistic director for Somme100 FILM, a project coordinating 100 live orchestral performances of her score for the 1916 film, The Battle of the Somme. Her music has been performed by the Philharmonia, New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, London Contemporary Orchestra and BBC Concert Orchestra, at the Barbican, Royal Festival Hall and Queen Elizabeth Hall, London. Laura is also a lecturer for film music at the London Film Academy and regularly gives masterclasses about film composition.