In the second installment of my Composer Routines series, I spoke with composer Darren Fung (The Great Human Odyssey, Equus: Story of the Horse). Darren wears many hats; not only is he a skilled composer, he's also a conductor, serves on the Board of the Screen Composers Guild of Canada after recently stepping down as the Second Vice President, acts as a Program Advisor for the Canadian Film Centre's Slaight Music Residency, and is a husband and father.
"With kids, it usually means waking up around 7am," says Fung. "If I'm earlier, I try to take the dog for a walk or a run. In a COVID world [referring to the 2019-2020 coronavirus pandemic] it means that my normal means of exercise (rowing, hockey) is out, but also means I don't have to rush to get my kids to school, so if I can wake up earlier it makes everything else go well. Now I'm cycling, I'm trying to hit 11-12 miles before I start the day.
"I usually procrastinate a fair bit in the morning before I go to work by doing all the social media things, checking out the news, etc. Also start off with emails."
With social media and emails out of the way, Darren begins composing. Though, as with all creative minds, not every day is as productive as we would like. Luckily, he has a solution:
"If I find I'm being particularly unproductive, I turn the wifi off of my computer. It amazes me how you have 10 seconds of down time you automatically are conditioned to go check Facebook or something like that, so I find it interesting to see how much time gets wasted.
"On a deadline I need to make a decision over how much work I spend on a mockup. I try to push as much non-essential composing work to my assistant, and since I don’t mix my own music all of that stuff get pushed to my engineer. If I’m hitting a block, I try to step away from the computer. Sometimes that means sitting at the piano and noodling, sometimes that means working with only pencil and paper (or iPad)."
"I am trying to integrate Slack more into my routine," says Darren, "especially when I'm in on a project. It helps me keep track of my team (usually it's just one assistant) but I know what tasks he's been given, what cues he's on etc. I also use CueDB as my project management software.
"In a pre-COVID world I tried to take at least one or two lunches a week, just to keep those social networks open. Just check in on friends, colleagues, peers, etc. In a COVID world, I'm trying to schedule a few check-ins via Zoom or phone. Nothing is worse than calling somebody when you need something, when you haven’t spoken in a while."
Film | Music
About the Author