November 10, 2019

Becoming a Film Composer: What Does It Take?


Phoenix, Arizona – Todd Thommes, a transplant for Los Angeles, has been trying to break into film scoring for two decades. He worked in Hollywood as a script reader and other jobs, while trying to make contacts in the music industry. Hollywood is a competitive environment and this was in an age before the proliferation of music on the internet. Mr. Thommes got a gig playing at the Sofitel Hotel. There he mostly played jazz piano. He met a few jazz greats, but none led to the big break.


Mr. Thommes realized he had a few things against him: no music degree and no established career as a musician. Generally, film composers have an already established body of work and are leaders in their field. Mr. Thommes interned for Hans Zimmer but this led to no lasting connections or work.


Many musicians aspire to be film composers as it offers extensive exposure for their work. Yet, the demand for film composers is not great. There are only so many films and other media made each year. One thing you can do is get your music out there. There are several sites that allow you to post music and garner as commission. During this process, you might get noticed. Lastly, make contacts. Mr. Thommes made contacts when he lived in Hollywood but then moved to Phoenix for his job. It has been difficult making contact with anyone in the industry in Phoenix.


An interesting thing Todd does is rewrite scores for movies with poor scores. This is his calling card, so to speak. Plus, it gives him more material to put on paying sites. Mr. Thommes continues to publish music on sites and excavate contacts.


The bottom line is that being a film composer is not an easy gig to get. What you need to do is study music, learn instruments, make music, join a band or go solo, compose for paying websites, and cultivate contacts and then maybe, just maybe, you get hired to score for a film.



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