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A Real Composer: Secrets of Modern Film Music

Updated: Feb 20

Mountain Range
Mountain Range

Created by Heikki Ketola as part of his master's thesis.


A Real Composer is a documentary film about modern film composers and their lives. Modern composers' constant mental and physical challenges create new problems for an industry that is unknown to most. This film shows what happens behind the scenes and in the minds of composers when working on their next score.


Featuring: Alev Lenz, Matt Bowdler, Jon Opstad, Derek Kirkup, Christian Henson, Ólafur Arnalds, Uno Helmersson, Daisy Coole and Tom Nettleship


This short documentary speaks volumes to me. The film's thesis is one of the reasons I stopped trying to find a way into the industry and created a path of excellence in my work apart from it. At this stage, I've had enough homes, cars, money, and "stuff" to no longer chase those dreams. I'm chasing the perfect sync for whatever film I'm blessed to work on. In this regard, age is an advantage, and deadlines don't scare me. My focus is on the film and the director's vision.


But as an American Composer who happens to be black, there always seems to be this veil to entry. I chose to prioritize work, family, and running a business instead of making those all too essential contacts in the industry, and this, I also believe, has been why my path has been a bit more complicated. This documentary speaks to that without my particular challenge in a way that sums things up quite succinctly. Even though I am classically trained, studied music in college, and even went to film scoring school at UCLA, it was never quite enough to open doors. But that doesn't matter anymore, to me anyway. I have more to offer now than I ever did in my 20s or 30s.


The times are different now, and that is good.


I hope anyone watching this documentary and has the desire to do something but is unsure of whether or not "you are" that thing you desire to be will walk away encouraged and strengthened in knowing as long as you continue to strive in and for your art you are what you say you are and do not need anyone to give you their stamp of approval.


A little wisdom


Everyone will not like everything you create. It isn't meant to be that way. It's only for those who resonate with your music, art, or craft. It's your job to be so damn good at what you do that you create curiosity, desire, demand, and respect. Oh, and always be humble and work hard.




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