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First Defeat

Discussion in 'Critique & Feedback' started by Duncan Formosa, Nov 7, 2022.

  1. #1 Duncan Formosa, Nov 7, 2022
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2022
    Time for a story! I've never really been hired as a composer, I mainly work as a film/tv editor. The only time I've ever scored anything is either the really bad films I made in college or that one time I was asked to cut a showreel together and I thought "I'll write the music without telling anyone and see if they approve it or not" and they did (made a post about it before.)

    Now, one of the editors I work with had cut together a showreel for a studio and they were looking for someone to write the music for it. The editor knew I wrote a lot of music and liked my stuff so he passed my name on and I got the job. I was, of course, very excited! I was also very worried that I would have to write "dark, edgy, contemporary" kind of music...Well, my fear came true!

    After sending about 5 completely different ideas I mainly got the same note back "it's not edgy enough" (with the exception of the first demo I sent which was maybe a little too edgy.)

    Eventually they thanked me for my efforts and said they were going to look for someone else to do the music. While this was probably for the best since I still wasn't sure what vibe they were going for it does sting for 2 reasons.

    1. It was my first composing gig that I failed at.
    2. It's the first job I've EVER failed at

    Think I've kind of settled on the idea now that I definitely don't want to do this as a career and I'll keep ploughing on with doing my usual job and compose for fun.

    For those of you who are interested, here are the ideas I gave them. Unfortunately I can't include the visuals for obvious reasons but it will show you the train of thought I guess as I tried to look for the vibe they were after.

    This was the first thing I sent them. Just a little stinger for when the logo came up to see if they liked the vibe (I hadn't gotten the full reel at this point.) Note that I got on this one was that it was maybe a little darker than what they would have liked.

    This version was the first attempt at scoring to the whole reel. I wanted to try and take the horn part that I put in the first version and develop a little theme out of that one idea. This version they said it lost the edge that the first version had.

    This time, I sent version 3 and 4 away at the same time. At first, they said they liked both of them and that it was very difficult to choose between the two. The next day however, they said it was still not edgy enough and maybe a little typical showreel music and was quite safe and it could have been due to the strings and horns.

    This was the final version before the plug got pulled. Only layed down a short snippet to see if the tone was right before trying to expand on it.

    At least when it all came to an end they were very nice about it, they thanked me for the work I had done and appreciated the fact that maybe they didn't know how to express what it was they wanted me to write and they still paid me for what I had done (I know a lot of people would try not to.) It was probably all for the best!
    Marko Dvojkovic and David Healey like this.
  2. I'm just an amateur so I can't comment on the job but from a life perspective it looks like a great experience (despite the rejection of the material). Also, I think you're too prolific with quality work to fail forever.
  3. It's tough when clients use words like "edgy". I find it better in those circumstances to get a temp score or some reference pieces of music so I can get some idea of what they think works. Saying that I think you need to find clients who like what you do instead of trying to do something else because it's what the client likes.

    I've only done a few professional composing gigs. A couple of them were remote work and I sent the music in, it was never used, and they wouldn't respond to my messages. And one of them I'm still waiting to be paid (that was about 10 years ago). :)
  4. They did give me some reference tracks...I don't think it helped much. The first two were quite heavy on the percussion and pretty much nothing else aside from the lyrics they had. But, I don't write lyrics and I didn't have a singer and they didn't want a track that had lyrics.

    I then asked if they had an example of something that had an instrument take the melody, so they sent me a track from Dredd. That piece was a lot slower than what they were after though and much more synth heavy than what they were after as well which they admitted. I tried my best to look at the 3 tracks and figure out what it was about the three of them they were looking for but I really struggled to find anything. I'm not even sure if they really knew either.
    David Healey likes this.
  5. It sounds like there was a committee making decisions about the music. Either that, or the one in charge doesn't know what he wants. On the bright side, it looks like you had fun and got paid. This looks like a success to me, not a failure. Film scoring is only one of a million ways to make a career out of music, but there are online bubbles that make it seem like the only way. From what I have seen, it is one of the worst, unless you are John Williams.

    If you have a good career already, there is no reason to ruin your hobby and fall into poverty at the same time, but it is always worth keeping an eye out for good opportunities. You made the right choice by taking the project, because otherwise you would only have a fantasy of what it is like to work on that kind of project, but now you have real experience doing it. If you want to score films, don't let this one experience discourage you. You can accomplish anything with enough time and willpower.

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