1 - Welcome and About This Course

Film and Visual storytelling mediums are incredibly impactful. Visual media, whether it be film, tv, online streaming or youtube, is everywhere and in the increase. And all of those videos and film need music. 
This course is intended to serve as an introduction to the art and craft of creating music for film, and was crafted with this question in mind: "what do I wish I knew when I was starting out?"
While the principles and approaches of film scoring used by big budget films and A list film composers apply to small projects, the practical realities of budget, tools, team, schedule, and production are not all the same between small and large projects. 
We all want to be working on the large projects with large budgets and full orchestras, but the reality is that (virtually) no one starts here, so materials that teach beginnings how to score BIG films will be of limited helpfulness early in their careers. So the objective of this course is to specifically focus on covering the kinds of situations and realities that BEGINNING film composers will run into on low (and even no-budget) indie film projects. Also, this is where the majority of my experience lies, and since they say "teach what you know", I'll camp out on this stuff. 
This means that the following subjects will either be covered either in a very peripheral way, or not at all:

  • Working in the studio system
  • Working with orchestrators
  • Booking orchestra sessions
  • Maximizing the orchestra sessions time
This course also assumes that the majority of beginning composers on beginning projects will be wearing either many hats or EVERY hat in the production of the music: composer, arranger, orchestrator, producer, conductor, performer, mixer, etc. This is the reality of the beginning composer in the modern environment of sophisticated tools and small budgets, and this reality can be both EXCITING and daunting. 
Some instructional materials are strong on philosophy and theory, but do little to show a beginning film composer how to apply the rubber of these concepts to the road of his actual project with its own unique challenges. On the other hand, some instructional materials are strong on specific practice and give a "ten steps to this result" formula, but without giving enough theory and philosophy for the student to understand WHY these steps are helpful, and can result in the student not knowing how to come up with practical steps in a situation that is different from the one that formula was crafted around. Robust education, in my opinion, involves not merely the transfer of KNOWLEDGE or info, but UNDERSTANDING (why?) and WISDOM (knowing how this applies in practice). 
This course has been structured in a such a way as to give a balance of philosophy and very practical advice in HOW and WHEN to do what. We don't just want to TALK about the philosophy--we want to APPLY it in practice, and hopefully you find that this back-and-forth between the two helps you to get the what, where, when, how, and WHY of the film scoring process. 
In this course you will learn:
  • The role of music in film and the vocabulary of film music
  • Critical theory and tips on the placement of music
  • The Role and Job description of the composer, including his relationship with the director and other 
  • The Director, and his relationships to the composer
  • Other members of the production
  • About career goals and priorities
  • Navigating job opportunities and questions about money, rights, and contracts
  • Developing the Score "pre-production"
  • Discovering the SOUND of the score
  • How to Create Themes, Motives, and Musical Symbols
  • How to have a successful Spotting Session and create a Cue Sheet
  • Practical advice on virtual composition tools and file management
  • How to balance and schedule your workload
  • How to Handle Sync and timecode
  • The differences between scoring for feature film VS docs, commercials, shorts, etc.
  • Scoring for different genres
  • Timing and tempo track issues
  • Working with Temp tracks and facing temp love
  • How to use composition techniques in film music
  • How to get the right amount of drama
  • How to create effective underscore
  • How to score and ACTION, INTIMATE, ETC scenes
  • How to deal with COMMON PROBLEMS in the film scoring process 
  • How to Find Inspiration and deal with writer's block
  • How to deal with rejection and redos
  • File Delivery
But Like I mentioned, I do not just want to give DATA, so to see how these principles and information apply in two different real-world scenarios, We will be doing a detailed breakdown of a scene that I scored for a film called "The Screenwriters", as well as an in-depth, step-by-step demonstration of the mechanics of scoring a scene from start to finish as I tackle live-scoring a scene from the classic Audrey Hepburn-Cary Grant film "Charade."
Throughout the course you will be given assignments to do on your own that include:
  • Your own research
  • Detailed listening and study
  • Reverse spotting an existing film
  • Blank scenes for your own film scoring practice and told where you can find more
You will also receive some music-less scenes from "The Screenwriters" for your own film scoring practice. You will be given a specific film scoring assignment, and when you've done that send me a link to what you've created for free feedback and critique. 

Who is this course For?
  • People starting out with an interest in scoring for picture
  • People who already have the means and tools to create and produce the music themselves
What is this course NOT?
  • Not in-depth business advice (while I will be touching on a few biz matters)
  • Not legal advice, though we do briefly discuss contracts and agreements
LESSON ASSIGNMENT: Familiarize yourself with the course architecture and interface.