As for me, the Harry Potter universe was my fandom of choice. I was 19, had just rented my first apartment, and one of the ways I was able to cope with everyday struggles of life was immersing myself into Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and imagining what the soundtrack might sound like for the upcoming movies. At first, I thought it a good exercise to take the iconic Hedwig’s Theme and just play around with the melody inside my Logic 8 orchestral samples. This first fan-made piece was definitely lacking in compositional structure, harmony, proper orchestration, and basic mixing skills. Nonetheless, it was the first one to be uploaded on YouTube, and after receiving generally positive feedback from the comments and HP community, they encouraged me to compose a few more. This became a 3-year project where I took some of the best chapters from the book and created a piece; either based on existing themes from John Williams, Patrick Doyle, Nicholas Hooper, and Alexandre Desplat; or simply wrote new themes that would fit the context of the story.
Naturally, this led to a desire to better my skills at composition, harmony, orchestration, and ultimately film scoring. Despite going to university for formal training, creating fan-made music for Harry Potter was what motivated me to dive into full scores, understanding how and why certain instruments doubled best in certain passages; how a melody could function best with this grouping or that harmonic progression… all of the things I was already learning at school were being applied in equal measure inside my fan-made compositions, and I think young composers should definitely try (at least once, for fun) their hands at recreating or writing their own interpretation of their favorite fandom.
Battle of Hogwarts
The culminating piece in my Harry Potter fan-made series was The Battle of Hogwarts, which had taken me over 1 month to compose, and at a 9-minute running time was also the most difficult and emotionally exhausting to complete. By this time, I had already invested in Hollywood Strings and improved my studio setup, but I still had a long way to go in improving mixing and mastering. Nevertheless, this piece became a really useful demo piece to show directors and producers, and the series got me connected with people who I’m still working with today! Keep that in mind when building your portfolio, and as Benjamin mentioned earlier… you never know who’s listening.
How a school project became a company: The Media Music Concert
While at York University in Toronto, my classmates and I decided to create a fun little show where we could arrange and have fun performing music from our favorite films, tv shows, and video games. This culminated in the creation of the Media Music Concert, which recently celebrated it’s 5th anniversary show and has became a yearly tradition at my school.
This documentary below highlights all the chaos, stress, and completely and utter fun we had attempting to put together a live performance of fresh arrangements from students who had just started composing and learning about orchestration, not to mention going through the political hierarchy of putting together a live show: