If being a film composer is just another corporate day job, no thanks.
I’ve been a passionate filmophile since my childhood days. Watching a movie is a part of my everyday ritual, something that I rarely skip. I have a large number of favorite film titles and genres. I could watch many of them over and over without being fed up and I always discover something new with each new view. Music certainly plays a big role in every good movie and from the late century onward, film music is likely the most powerful way of popularizing instrumental music, which is sadly nowhere as much listened to and appreciated today as it used to be in the times of Bach, Beethoven, Mozart and other classical composers.
Creating music is a fulfilling and life-defining act, but for those who devote their lives to it, it is also a logical source of income. For the past ten years or so, I’ve been living out of music to the best of my abilities. Although I often struggle with the money in the process, this also brings an immense sense of freedom and personal satisfaction.
Considering my lifelong passion for both instrumental music and film, for a long time I was thinking that the career in film music would be the best possible option for me. Although I’m still hoping that I’ll somehow get the chance to at least try myself in this area, the more and more I read and learn about the subject, the less I’m sure is this really what I’m looking for.
Recently, I’ve watched a YouTube video by Christian Henson who is among other things a composer for film and TV based in the UK. In his vlog, he goes on about the possible strategies for success in this industry these days. According to Mr. Henson, to have at least a chance in this, by his words cut-throat world, you should for a start be ready to abandon your home and family, unless you’re already living in or near the world's centers of movie industry, such as London, New York, Los Angeles or Tokyo. And to be able to do so, or to be in a constant move, you should have a stable and substantial source of income, which is from my personal experience a completely unrealistic scenario for someone who is trying to make a living solely out of music. Furthermore, you need to get noticed in the right circles, which often has nothing to do with your talent, knowledge and passion, but with mingling with the right crowd either by elbowing in or through servility. And even then, there is no guarantee whatsoever that someone will hire you over the plethora of established film composers as you don’t have a necessary experience and status, which (ironically) is just the thing you’re trying and hoping to get. And if you do “succeed” against all the odds, you should be prepared for life without much rest and sleep, dealing with the horrible bosses, ongoing competition, deadlines etc.
Taking all this into account, it seems to me that being a film composer today is just another corporate day job which will squeeze the life out of you. For me, music is not only raison d’etre and the source of fulfillment; it is also my personal escape from this very way of living, which I simply refused to accept long ago, despite my formal education and the financial struggle I’m often facing nowadays. But I still hope for an opportunity to make my small mark in film or TV music, simply because of my personal satisfaction and the belief that I have what it takes, at least in the musical sense.