Pro Film Composers Get Scared Too

Even professional film composers are terrified by what others will think of their music, as shown by this interview. Anyone who has tried composing music (or pursuing any other art form) knows that one of the hardest things to do is share what you’ve spent countless hours on (and gotten quite attached to) with an audience that may or may not share your emotional attachment to it. In the best cases, you get a positive response with some highly-valued critical feedback. In the not-so-best cases, you might get a vague nod of interest (as if to say, “Oh, that’s what you’ve been spending your life doing”) or a one-line response like “Cool!” that seems altogether too simplistic to appreciate all the work involved (or according to Danny Elfman, the worst is when people get effusive with praise, since he doesn’t trust them). Film directors are no exception to this rule, often underestimating the time that goes into writing, and often shooting down dozens of ideas before settling on one they like. But that’s the industry, and film composers rely on directors to stay true to their vision for the film as a whole.

What the Pros Say

In this Hollywood Reporter interview, Danny Elfman and Hans Zimmer relate to the terror of presenting their work to directors. I stumbled across this as I was putting off work on the second part of the Proton Trilogy (I’m not alone in my procrastination, according to John Powell in the interview). If you’re a film composer, songwriter, or composer of any sort, I highly recommend watching the entire interview when you have the chance. It’s amazing to observe the differing personalities and approaches to composition (Marco Beltrami and Trent Reznor also weigh in), and the differing reactions they get from directors. And it’s encouraging to me to see that even the big-time pros have insecurity about their writing. In fact, they say it takes both confidence to keep moving forward and insecurity to keep questioning. So now it’s back to work for me…I’ve procrastinated long enough.

Feel free to comment below with your thoughts on insecurity as a composer, and how you move past those fears and write confidently!

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