How Do I Become a Film Composer? (with pictures)

Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison
People filming a movie.
People filming a movie.

Unlike many other careers, it can prove difficult to determine exactly how to become a film composer. This is because there is no educational route or set of training classes required to pursue this career. There are, however, some steps you can take to improve your chances for success. For example, you can earn a degree in an entertainment-related field, seek opportunities to work in film, find ways to make contact with directors and others in the film industry, and create a portfolio that will help you land projects.

A composer writes music.
A composer writes music.

When you want to become a film composer, you could choose to start on this path by seeking higher education. For example, you could choose to earn a college degree in a music major or choose to study in a film scoring program. There are many different colleges and universities at which you can pursue such education, but choosing a school that has a reputation for excellence in these fields may serve you in a couple of ways. First, enrolling in a reputable program may translate into an excellent education and help you learn as much as possible about composition and the film industry. Often, such programs also provide students with important contacts as well as helpful networking and internship opportunities.

While you might want to start out working on the most exciting films, you will likely have to work your way up to the features you want. When you are just starting out, you may do well to take advantage of the work you do for smaller films to build on your skills and talents and gain experience. In time, you may garner more and more attention for yourself and eventually get the opportunity to work on the films you want. In fact, you might start out by working on student films and free projects and then move on to commercials and trailers before landing other types of film work.

It is usually also important to spend time networking when you want to become a film composer. By making contact with directors and other people who work in the film industry, you may open future doors for yourself. Eventually, you may end up working for some of the contacts you make. These people might also refer you to others they know and help you build your reputation as a talented film composer.

An impressive portfolio can also help you to become a film composer. You can use this portfolio to show directors, producers, and other film industry people what you can do. Ideally, your portfolio should include a wide variety of samples so that you can send the most appropriate ones based on the type of music for which the project calls.

Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison

Nicole’s thirst for knowledge inspired her to become a writer, and she focuses primarily on topics such as homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. When not writing or spending time with her four children, Nicole enjoys reading, camping, and going to the beach.

Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison

Nicole’s thirst for knowledge inspired her to become a writer, and she focuses primarily on topics such as homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. When not writing or spending time with her four children, Nicole enjoys reading, camping, and going to the beach.

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Discussion Comments

croydon

@KoiwiGal - Everyone gets into creative careers in their own way. Becoming a film composer is no different. It might be that listening to a wide range of music is enough for someone to learn what has already been done without spending a lot of money on studying.

KoiwiGal

@Ana1234 - I don't think a qualification is necessary, but I do think that it provides a few advantages, and I don't really believe that it will take anything away from creativity unless he goes to a really bad program.

People are always saying that about art and creative writing courses as well. They worry that studying past masters is only going to make people imitate, rather than utilize their own creativity.

The problem is that humans aren't actually all that creative. All of creation is about taking elements that already exist and recombining them into something new. And if you don't know what came before you, then you don't know when you are truly being original.

Not to mention that formal qualifications can give you a better chance at networking and a decent foundation of how the industry works.

Ana1234

One of my friends wants to do this and he is adamant that he isn't going to try and get any formal qualifications for music. He's very talented already and plays a range of instruments. He's even composed the soundtracks for a couple of tiny projects for friends.

But, when people suggest to him that getting a formal qualification will help with his career, he is always against it. He reckons it doesn't give you any real advantage in terms of credibility and it might actually detract from your originality because it might make you sound like everyone else. He would rather stay original.

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    • People filming a movie.
      People filming a movie.
    • A composer writes music.
      A composer writes music.