A Filmmakers Guide to Finding the Right Composer

Michael Vignola
Mar 22 · 3 min read

Taking The right steps:

  • Where to look: Going to film networking events/film festivals and searching online can prove very resourceful some examples are websites, forums and groups like IMDB, post on Facebook Composer/Film Groups, Google even Music Library searches can help you find a composer for a custom score.
  • Spend the time listening: Once you found a couple of composers you are interested in spending at least 20–30 mins reviewing their work. You would be surprised how many people I’ve spoken to that have not taken the time to listen to my works before our call. This lets the composer know you are genuinely interested in working with them and not just looking for anyone under the sun. It says you have a vision for your film.
  • Getting the Best work out of your composer: Get to know their Musical DNA (This is very Important) Talk about what you love about a specific track or part of a track you have listened to that is along the lines of what you are looking for. This will not only make the composer feel good, but it will also solidify in his or her mind that you are looking to hire them for who they are not because you want your film to sound like Hans Zimmer or John Williams. Use there work as examples of what you’re looking for.
  • The Pitch Demo: the final stage before officially bringing a composer on board being that you haven’t worked with them before is having the composer(s) score to a 2–3 minute rough clip of your film. This will be the best way to see who you think will be the best fit for a particular project especially if this is the first time you’re thinking of working with this person.

Three Ways to describe the music you are looking for in your Film:

  • Talk about how you want the film or scene to feel. This is key to translating what you want.
  • Do not talk about a specific song or soundtrack from another film (Yes I know I just said that but hear me out) Talk about the movies/shows that are in the same vein as your film, not the score. This is a more interpretive approach and will keep your film sounding more unique. Let’s face it, talking about how you want the score to sound like another film will place your film in a box and potentially stifle any type of unique creatively, break the “rules”. These are the ingredients to true success.
  • Take time to speak about the depths of a scene(s) with your composer, for example, what is the character thinking, the stuff that is not being said or acted out in the script will speak volumes. This approach allows the composer to internalize the feeling of the film even more and it will evolve from there.

Important things to consider:

  • You are hiring a composer for their ideas, not their time. You are hiring them because of the way they interpret your notes and how they score to picture. If you are just hiring a composer on a film/series to do exactly what you say, then you are better off just purchasing stock music because that will be the outcome. This is a collaboration at the end of the day.
  • Get a composer involved in any way as early on in the production as possible. It is said by an overwhelming majority of filmmaking professionals that the music is 50% or more of the experience, so the sooner the better.
  • Film Composers can do what stock music can’t. A Composer gives your film a musical consciousness by creating themes that weave in and out of the storyline line.

I would like to add as an artist, I am open to other concepts, but I feel these ideas are some of the best ways if you are looking to create a product that has its own space and stands the test of time.

If you’re looking for a composer for your project please check out my site and feel free to reach out https://www.vignolamusic.com

Written by

Michael Vignola is a New York City based Multi-Award Winning Composer, known for his unique expression, and multi-faceted range.

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