Do Film Scoring Programs Lead to Employment

Do Film Scoring Programs Lead to Employment?

You might have noticed there are an ever growing number of film scoring schools, many offering masters degrees in composing for film. Now being a naturally cautious and skeptical person, somewhere at the back of your brain there should be a question. How are all these courses going to find work for their graduates? Do they lead to employment? The short answer is “Yes they should”, but it’s absolutely not like graduating in dentistry where you just walk into a job and it may take quite a while.

How does it lead to work?

The first thing you will learn on a film scoring course is craft, the skills nuts and bolts of the business and how you play your part is a creative, pragmatic and skilled professional. Craft is important as it’s what you fall back on when deadlines loom and inspiration is running a little short. It also can be taught relatively easily which is more than can be said for inspiration. Making sure the craft you are acquiring is relevant is very important. That’s down to making sure the faculty are up to speed with what the business is asking for right now.

Opening your eyes to the wider world of possibility is a very important part of what film scoring programs offer. That word “film” for a kick off. As you may know, we go out of our way to prepare students for the wider world, television, scoring animation, music for video games, commercials, documentary, trailers, library music and all the other areas where real people earn a real living. There’s a lot more to life than film and if a scoring program can divert talented musicians into these other areas where the line is shorter, then they are doing a very good job.

Developing a voice is crucial. This is what great film scoring programs do best. They give composers realistic and challenging work in an offline setting where they can experiment and develop a fresh and relevant musical voice that will help them stand out from the ever growing crowd. It takes hard work by both the student and the faculty, but together, given the right insights and great mentoring, the composer should emerge with a level of maturity that would take years to achieve in the outside world, if at all.

What about making friends?

We all need friends. Some film schools like USC, UCLA in the US and in the UK the NFTS, offer great opportunities to hook up with the next Stephen Spielberg but I would sound a note of caution. Obviously these partnerships are the exception and not the rule, the vast majority of graduates do not leave with a ready-made customer under their belt. The other problem is that a growing number of film students don’t want music in their student productions and I have seen many student composers partnered with film makers who simply didn’t want what they wanted to write. Now very art house movies are the staple of many film schools but not of the commercial world and there is a disconnect here. Don’t choose a school exclusively because of the promise of making friends who will give you work. It’s a great bonus though.

In many respects the best thing a film scoring course can do is to show the students how to find their own work and how to make their own friends; to equip them with the craft and the creative tools to stand out from the crowd and then show them how to take their skill to the market. That’s how it should work.

But it doesn’t work overnight. Unlike dentistry, a film scoring masters degree won’t guarantee you work six months later. You need to build a network of clients and that means many rounds of the production cycle, which means years not months. But properly prepared and well trained, film music graduates should be in a commanding position to compete successfully in what is increasingly a very competitive industry.

About the Author
Guy Michelmore

Guy Michelmore

Course Director Guy Michelmore is an award winning film composer. He has scored over 8 animated films for Marvel and over 200 episodes of TV for networks all over the world. He also has a detailed knowledge of sampled orchestration and contemporary techniques in film scoring.

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