Job of the week: Soundtrack composer

Job of the week: Soundtrack composer

30/09/13

Musician and composer Emilie Levienaise-Farrouch has scored a number of award-winning short films in both the UK and US, as well as radio series and feature length documentary. Here she talks us through her average working week...

Full name/age/job title

Emilie Levienaise-Farrouch, 29 years old, Soundtrack Composer 

Please give us an overview of your average day

If I am scoring a project with a tight deadline, I’ll be focusing on it during most of my waking hours. I'll always try to maintain regular breaks throughout the days though, as it's easy to get hearing fatigue and lose concentration.

When things are a bit more relaxed, I will spend the morning emailing people, listening to new music, watching movies or reading, then after lunch I will make music. I think it's important to realise that time not used on composing can still be work. You need to keep yourself inspired and intellectually stimulated, and this doesn't always come from sitting in front of the piano. 

What is the most common misconception about your job?

I'm not sure really...maybe that soundtrack composers are middle-aged men? Which is true of the most successful and famous ones. But I think there are more young women doing well in this job; the situation is really evolving.

What is the hardest thing about your role?

Finding the balance between client satisfaction and artistic integrity. Sometimes you aren't as much a collaborator as a service provider.

You have to fit the brief, but it can be a struggle to find a middle ground between what you believe to be good and right for the project, and what the client wants. Also working freelance can be lonely, so it's worth having a network of fellow freelancers to have coffees with.

When did you decide what you wanted to do with your life and how did you set out to achieve it?

It took me a while to realise that having a career in music was a realistic option. After moving from Bordeaux to London to do a BA in Commercial Music, I started to work on a few short films from the Film and TV students and I got hooked. So I went on to do a Mmus in Acoustic Composition to broaden my compositional knowledge and tried to score as many projects as possible. 

What can you do to get a head start?

Don't underestimate how important it is to be able to produce your own music.  Also develop your own sound, it's good to know what the big names are doing but you're only going to stand out if your sound is unique.

Could you describe the creative element to your job?

Apart from admin and general paperwork everything else is creative: from spotting the film for music cues to composing, orchestrating and producing the score. I like to experiment a lot to create original sounds and textures from objects and instruments, and have some fun with it. 

What’s the one thing you wish you had known at the start of your career that you know now?

You will have to be a business person too. It's good to have some understanding of contracts, copyrights and licenses. It sounds so far from an artist's priority, but it makes professional relationships much smoother in the long run.

Which organisations/websites/resources do you think would be useful for people entering your industry?

PRS for Music – Really worth joining if some of your music might be broadcasted or used online in the near future. It also has a lot of useful resources and information for composers. 

Musician Benevolent Fund – their Emerging Excellence Award was a big help towards setting up my own music studio this year, and they do a lot to support musicians.

 

To find out more, visit Emilie's website.

For more articles, jobs and opportunities, visit our Performing Arts hub. 

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