1) CHRISTY, YOU HAVE BEEN IN LA FOR QUITE A FEW YEARS NOW AND YOU WORK FOR A VERY SUCCESSFUL LICENSING COMPANY. CAN YOU SHARE WITH US SOME OF THE EXPERIENCES OF YOUR JOURNEY? I BET IT WASN’T A WALK IN THE PARK RIGHT?
Just celebrated 11 years in LA this past summer – and it definitely wasn’t ALL a walk in the park, ha! But overall I have loved every minute of being here. I really enjoy my job working as an In-House Composer/Music Director/Producer. I got involved in production music fairly early, when I was hired to build from scratch the library of a production company that did mostly behind-the-scenes and special features for DVDs. When I first arrived in LA I worked for a really wonderful Canadian composer, Steve London, and a year later got the opportunity to intern, and then assist, the amazing Sharon Farber. So in those experiences working for Steve and Sharon, I really got my first proof that the composer community is chock full of lovely human beings! These days, my job is something different every day, and unless it’s a bigger project stretching out over a few days/weeks, I never know what I’ll be working on when I walk in! Just as an example, in 2015 my company was hired to record “Chopsticks” and a one-hand Bach arrangement for the hit CBS show “Scorpion.” When they actually went to shoot the scene, they ended up bringing me on set to perform the arrangement on camera. I got the call that I was going to be standing in for the actor, who wears a prosthetic arm worth six figures. I ended up with the prosthetic arm taped to MY arm, crouched behind the (very good-looking) actor, playing this very fast Bach piece trying to move my fingers as quickly as possible – it was really heavy! They edited me out in post and the scene turned out quite funny. So maybe one day I am having an experience like that, another day I’m composing something custom for a project, or I’ll be arranging, or performing a classical piece on the piano. There is always something unique and fun on deck.
2) YOU HAVE RECENTLY RECORDED REMOTELY FOR YOUR ORCHESTRAL DEMO. CAN YOU PLEASE WALK US THROUGH THE PROCESS? FROM COMPOSING TO THE ACTUAL RECORDING.
I started working on this project right after my daughter grew out of her newborn phase. During my maternity leave, I was assessing my website and demo, and realized that I didn’t have an orchestral demo that I felt truly represented my abilities and voice as they are now, so I went for it. There is a sexy fantasy book series by one of my favorite authors that I’m totally obsessed with, and have been writing music inspired by the books for years. The author is very gracious, and gave me her blessing to write all of this new orchestral music inspired by key scenes and characters from her creation, so I scored them as I would score the movie, if they ever make one! (It would need to be a mini-series on HBO to be done right. HBO, if you’re listening: I’m available.) The whole process of composing at the piano, orchestrating, entering it into Sibelius, making parts, etc was done late at night, after I’d already finished a full day at work, and when my whole family was peacefully sleeping. I chose scenes to score that I felt could best show off my dramatic sensibilities and allow for some fun orchestration. The remote recording went really smoothly and I was thrilled with the results.
3) YOU ARE WORKING IN A MALE DOMINATED INDUSTRY. WHAT ARE SOME RESOURCES FOR FEMALE COMPOSERS OUT THERE AND WHAT ADVICE WHAT YOU GIVE TO OTHER FEMALES THAT MIGHT WANT TO FOLLOW IN YOUR FOOTSTEPS?
It has really been incredible and thrilling in the past few years to see the increased visibility of female composers. The Alliance for Women Film Composers is doing an amazing job in this regard, and I always recommend that young female composers who reach out to me join this group. I remember in the early 2000s when I was a classical piano student at college, Rachel Portman was being nominated for Oscars and I learned that she had already won one for “Emma.” I felt that first realization of “Oh! Women are film composers too!” So looking around at all the women film composers on the scene today achieving success, it must be thrilling for young women wanting to start out in this field to see so many examples around them. That doesn’t mean the work is over; there are still unconscious, subtle perceptions of and assumptions about female composers that will probably continue to be felt/made, and some attitudes will never be shifted, but I can give countless examples of my friends and colleagues who are female, fearless, wildly talented, driven, and just knocking it out of the park. Breaking glass ceilings all over the place. I remember Richard said something once like: having a successful career in film music is a decades-long marathon. We are now seeing women who’ve been in the marathon for a long time rising to prominence. And more and more women are entering the marathon and staying in it.
4) YOU WERE INVOLVED WITH PERSPECTIVE SINCE THE VERY BEGINNING AND IT HAS GROWN BEYOND ANYONE’S WILDEST DREAM. CAN YOU PINPOINT WHY IT HAS BECOME SO SUCCESSFUL AND WHERE DO YOU SEE IT GOING IN THE FUTURE?
There are a few key ingredients to Perspective becoming such a go-to resource for the media scoring community. We have A-listers from all aspects of the industry weighing in on posts, sharing their time and experience with us and bringing their unique perspectives to the table. All of our members understand how unique and special this is, and so everyone follows the rules to keep this spirit of camaraderie and respect. Another amazing thing is that I’ve met people on this forum who have become what I know will be life-long friends. Busy composers have hired their new assistants from this forum, people have banded together to go in on shared sessions, recommended players and web designers and photographers to each other, etc…the list goes on. It’s a thriving, bustling marketplace of ideas and opportunities. The group will continue to grow in membership, and also continue to see our members grow in their careers and profiles. More and more we will see someone who was “just starting out” and posted a thread looking for advice, back on the forum, looking to add people to their team when they start on a studio feature!
5) YOU ARE A PARENT AND A CONSUMMATE PROFESSIONAL. HOW DO YOU BALANCE THAT WITH YOUR WORK ETHIC?
My kids are EVERYTHING to me. I made very conscious choices in my life to make my dream of motherhood possible, but when it comes to balancing a creative, demanding career like media scoring with parenthood, everyone finds their own path. Any semblance of balance will only come through having a reliable partner, family and/or support system in place, especially during those first 5 years! The company I work for is very family-oriented. Increasingly, the directors I work with in my personal film scoring career are also starting families, and we end up bonding about the unique challenges and joys of this phase of life. It’s definitely not easy, whether you are a freelancer moving from project to project, or someone with a steadier gig. But I don’t think anyone goes into parenthood expecting it to be easy, and people who are already working as media composers have most likely developed a certain tenacity, a thick skin, and a problem solving attitude, three ESSENTIAL things you need with your kids!