Filmmakers Global Network ::
Community Spotlight with Mitchell Kennedy
Video Game and Short Film Composer; PhD Student
I usually have at least two or three projects working at one time. Right now, I have just started composing music for a student film about mental illness. I am also nearly finished with two projects, the first being a short uplifting concert piece about new beginnings and returning to normalcy. The other project I am working on is a video game sound-track for a dark, gritty fantasy-action game.
Depending on the project, my creative style varies a little bit. If I am writing for a film or a video game, I like to talk with the creative artists or any designers to try and get the mood and the tempo of the piece. What does the music need to do and when? If they have any specifics in mind as well, I like to keep that in the back of my mind when writing. Do they want lots of drums, or maybe a big brass fanfare? That helps to get me on track to write a few short samples, that are rough ideas of what I think they want to make sure we’re on the same page. If they like it, then I go into production on it and deliver the final track. I usually pump out tracks fairly quickly, and they are not tremendously complex, musically all the time. It is more important to get them what they are looking for quickly and for it to sound good. If I am writing for a concert or a competition, I take more time thinking about the piece before I start it. I will either form the bulk of the music in my mind or play around on the piano to think of a road-map for the piece before actually writing anything. This process can be very slow, a few weeks, or quite quick, one to two days, depending on how long it takes to be inspired.
Challenge & Solution:
Most commonly, I run into challenges when I have written something I really like or something that works really well, but whomever I’m working for doesn’t think it fits. It can be frustrating to have to change a piece that you’re proud of and put a lot of time and energy into. I have found in this situation, that it is better not to try and change the piece to fit what is needed, but to try and start over on the piece, keeping in mind exactly why it didn’t work, or things maybe the commissioner did like. It seems like a lot more work, but it ends up saving time and more frustration of trying to turn a piece into something it wasn’t meant to be.
3 Composing Tips:
#1) If you have a job, and a piece you’ve written doesn’t work for some reason, you have to be willing to put it aside. Not every piece you write will be great, and even if it’s good, it might not fit the bill. Maybe you can use it on your portfolio instead.
#2) Write the music you like to write. If someone offers you a job writing a kind of music you aren’t good at or hate writing, don’t take the job. Your music won’t be as good if you don’t enjoy writing it.
#3) It’s okay not to make money especially starting out. I have been working as a composer for almost 6 years now and have been consistently making money only for about the past year. When you’re starting out, you don’t have as much experience or practice. Find an indie game to compose for free or a student film. It’s okay if they can’t pay you at first. Once you have a few projects under your belt, then you can start to look for better paying gigs.