Sunday, May 17, 2009

Things I've Learned This Year

I'm a . . . l . . . m . . . o . . . s . . . t . . .


Two mixes to turn in tomorrow to my lab instructor and two vids to turn into my orchestration prof, and I'm done with school. But but BUT. I have a wedding to prepare for, and boy do I need to practice. Plus, I get to figure out how to pay my rent for the summer (including June. Ech - two weeks!)

If you know anyone in the Chicago area who needs a pianist for a wedding, hit me up. I'm available. (This is going on Craigslist, yes, yessssss.)

This has been an amazing year so far. I know - "amazing" is so overused. But it's true. 

Things I've learned:

1. You're not going to make friends with everyone. Naturally, you don't want to go around making enemies, either. But just know that it's pretty rare to make friends in film composing, even though you're meeting a lot of people. Which leads me to . . . 

2. No one else has time for your personal shit. Deal with issues in your personal life and deal with them in your art, if it's appropriate. But not in your professional life. Leave all that at home. This means no sniping, no getting angry, no defensiveness. Even if someone is condescending to you. Try not to take it personally and always try to be better. 

3. Fake confidence even if you don't feel it. I used to believe that if you were honest about not feeling confident, it would dissipate. This was a fine belief for the tortured artist venue, where that feeling is cherished and protected and even worn as a badge, but there's no place for it in film composing. Besides, being honest doesn't help. It makes the lack of confidence only feed on itself, and if a manipulative person picks up on it, you're toast. Naturally, you want to try to cultivate some actual confidence somewhere along the way!

4. Have a personal life. This is imperative, I think. If you want to get married and have kids, do it. If you want to have a lot of friends, have them. Create a rich personal life for yourself, because if you give it up to be a slave to the art and the work, no one in Hollywood is going to care that you sacrificed that. Recipe for bitterness. 

5. Know the technology. Know everything you can about the equipment and software you use, especially if you're a female working in this profession. You can't give people a reason to question you. Not to mention, you're going to be working at a scary-fast pace. A director will ask for changes at 8 p.m. and you'll compose until 1 a.m. and the orchestrator will pick up the cues then and orchestrate them and send the scores off to the copyist at 6 a.m., and the copyist will have them on the sound stage by 8:30 a.m. for a 9 a.m. recording. You can't afford to . . . ah, miss a beat. 

6. Know you'll sacrifice sleep. A lot of it. All-nighters are routine. 

7. Demand perfection from yourself. Do the compositions you want, not what you think someone else wants. Better yet, learn how to put what someone else wants into what you want. 

8. Be a loving, open person. "How can I help you?" It's not just a line for retailers. The directors you work with are your clients. Make them happy and keep them happy. Your job is the only job in the process of making a movie that they have about 0% control over. You're like a Klingon to them: scary smart with a language they do not understand. Besides, the more loving and open you are, the better people you will attract. This doesn't mean you have to be a doormat. But don't ever be above helping the person beside you, in front of you, behind you, wherever.

I learned a bunch of other stuff, too, but I gotta get back to work. Hope you enjoy the post. 

EDIT: I love how didactic I was in this. You should see my beard and robe and the staff I carry around now.


Sarah Laurenson said...

Always good to know what you're getting yourself in for. And have tools to use in most situations. Wonderful list.

Whirlochre said...

Ah, there's wisdom in these lines. Could have done with some of this when I was younger, but I suppose the point is that you have to goof and goof and goof again until you see it.

Hope you have a fun wedding. I haven't been to one of those in years. So much more fun than funerals.

fairyhedgehog said...

This is cool, freddie. It gives me an insight into what it's been like for you this year.

I hope you make time to relax and restore yourself. One thing I've learnt is that you can't keep on giving and giving without looking after yourself.

Robin S. said...

I agree with Whirl. I goofed and goofed and goofed until I finally occasionally 'got it'.

So happy days - you're halfway home to that Master's!

moonrat said...

all good advice, my friend, and universally applicable.

freddie said...

Ah, thanks all!