Every artist needs to start somewhere. Every beginning designer, musician, filmmaker and creative has worked on projects with little-to-no budgets, some that we couldn't wait to be done with, and others that were exciting enough to not worry about not getting paid. At some point you need to let those projects go and become a professional. Yes, you can be an artist and be professional.
Now, I don't work for free anymore, but at the risk of sounding like a hypocrite, I have a confession: I still score student films. Before you start throwing your digital rotten tomatoes at me, allow me to explain...
Disclaimer: I only work on a limited number of student films that I feel are truly exceptionally well done.
It's Like a Free Sample at a Grocery Store...
You know that nice old lady that offers you a free sample of sausage on a toothpick? Why is she just giving away food instead of selling it? It's because if you like it you'll buy more in the future. So in a way I'm the old lady at Costco giving away scoring services on toothpicks, with hopes that after the student graduates they will return to Costco and purchase more sausages - er, scoring services.
It Allows Me to Stay Current
It can be easy to fall behind as technology changes and new things develop in the film and music industries. Working with students allows me to keep an eye on what is being taught today and what changes are being made in the industry. This could be anything from animation styles, video formats, editing, etc. It's not enough to just assume that you'll catch the changes at some point, adaptation requires constant learning.
It Teaches Me Patience
Students are still figuring things out, and it's important to understand that going into the project. There will be things that come up that you wouldn't normally deal with when working with a veteran filmmaker, and those moments are great exercises in patience and problem solving. Now, I've definitely worked with professional filmmakers who are still naive to certain things, but to some extent it's not their job to know your job!
It's More Writing Practice
I try to always be expanding my talents as a composer, whether it be studying scores, learning new pieces of music on an instrument, or experimenting with production techniques. Student films allow me to practice my writing and production skills and can even allow me to experiment with new techniques if I have the time.
It Can Be A Lot of Fun
I usually have a lot of fun on most projects - I do, of course, write music because I enjoy it. But as anyone in the film or music industry knows, it can be incredibly stressful at times. Scoring for a student film can be a vacation of sorts if you let it. Yes, you still have deadlines. Yes, you still have a client in charge. But if you believe in the project, you're excited about it, and you get along with the student, it can be a lot of fun. I enjoyed writing for the last two student films, "Wischief" and "Grounded", because I loved the artwork and the students were awesome.
What are your experiences with student filmmakers? Tell me about it in the comments below!
Film | Music
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