Careers in Film Scoring

Lucas Vidal and Steve Dzialowski

Name: Lucas Vidal and Steve Dzialowski

Major at Berklee: Film Scoring

Graduation Date: 2007

Professional Title: Composer and Business Partner

Employer: Music and Motion Productions

Read Lucas Vidal and Steve Dzialowski's alumni interview...

Film Composer

A film composer scores music to accompany a motion picture for film or television. This could include dramatic underscore as well as popular songwriting. The traditional role of a film composer is to provide the orchestral dramatic underscore, and only more recently has the popular soundtrack begun to stand on its own.

Music Editor

A music editor is responsible for mixing and synchronizing the music with the film and mixing the music with the film soundtrack. The music editor must be versatile and possess a great musical sensitivity, a keen ear for balance, and an awareness of how music can make or break a dramatic scene; all combined with knowledge of the special technology used in synchronizing music tracks to film or tape.

“Keep learning and never give up.” - Lucas Vidal and Steve Dzialowski

Programmer (Sequencing)

The programmer utilizes music sequencing software and sometimes notation software to produce MIDI keyboard/synthesizer tracks for inclusion in the film score. Other times, a programmer will sequence a piece of music or a composition by this means, which will allow the composer and music editor an opportunity to hear the composition before it reaches the scoring stage. This is considerably cheaper than hiring a full orchestra and enables the composer to identify errors in the score before it gets to the scoring stage.

Orchestrator

The film music orchestrator is responsible for writing scores for an orchestra, band, choral group, individual instrumentalist(s), or vocalist(s). Also, an orchestrator transposes music from one instrument or voice to another in order to accommodate a particular music instrument, musician, or group. Often, the orchestrator will also be the conductor during the film scoring sessions.

Music Supervisor (Theme Specialist: Film/TV)

The film producer hires the music supervisor. He/she may act as an A&R scout to find and license popular songs for inclusion as theme or background music within the film (called source music) and/or selecting songs for the soundtrack. Sometimes the music supervisor may be in charge of only the songs for the soundtrack, and other times he/she may be in charge of all the music involved with a film, including hiring and supervising the film composer for dramatic scoring.

Contractor

A film/TV music contractor is responsible for hiring the musicians and tending to all the necessary contract obligations through AFM (American Federation of Musicians). It is in the contractor's best interest to procure the best talent possible while working within his/her budget guidelines.

Film Arranger (Adaptor) 

The film arranger provides musical arrangements of a musical composition or song for film and/or TV usage. The arranger determines the voice, instrument, harmonic structure, rhythm, tempo, and other aspects of a song or composition, based on the conductor or film producer's specifications. Training in music theory, orchestration, composition, and harmony is required. An arranger should have experience as a copyist, writing music, and playing one or more instruments.

Film Conductor 

A film conductor's main duty is preparing an orchestra or ensemble for the finest performance possible in a film scoring session. This includes preparing the musicians for the sessions via rehearsals, and all other business affairs related to leading an orchestra. A conductor should have a strong ability on an instrument, in-depth musical knowledge, the ability to sight read, and great interpersonal and leadership skills to interact with film composers, studio orchestra players, music editors, orchestrators, and copyists. During a scoring session, the conductor is able to hear the comments of the producer in the studio control room and direct the musicians/orchestra accordingly.

Often, the film composer or orchestrator will occupy the role of conductor, as well.

Copyist (Music Preparation) 

In the film music industry, a copyist's job is also called music preparation. The copyist transfers musical parts from a score onto individual parts. This person must have strong notation and transposition skills, training in music theory, attention to detail, and neat and accurate copy work.

Assistant to the Composer 

An assistant to the composer acts as a liaison between the composer and various other entities in the film, television, and music industry. The main responsibility for the assistant to the composer is to allow the film composer time to do what he does best, which is composing. This is usually an entry-level position and provides a unique perspective on the filmmaking process.

Sound Designer (Synthesis Specialist) 

A sound designer designs synthesized music and sound effects to complement and aid the music score.