It was never supposed to be easy, to create the circumstances in life where your music could be heard, celebrated, and mythicized by millions of movie-goers around the globe. The film industry has been a beautiful and chaotic blessing for all of us, that we honestly can’t think what life and our aspirations would be like without it. Yet for a small number of incredibly talented individuals in the business, what a journey has it been. But as they say, you create your own luck, it is not thrown on your lap or calls you at night. By pure wit, determination, and their unconditional love of music, these film composers made it to the top by being prepared for those unexpected opportunities when they were just starting out.
Since the early 2000s (perhaps even earlier), the sheer volume of young aspiring composers entering the industry has drastically increased to the point where, in many cases, the supply has simply exceeded the demand, making it a bit more difficult to find your footing in the business. But just like these composers, their path was neither straight or methodically proven; rather a series of interweaving actions and reactions which gradually propelled them to successful careers, Academy Awards, and all of the joys and stresses of getting to write music every day. They stuck with music, in all its forms and disciplines, and were able to sustain the cost of living by finding work in various areas.
So I thought it might be both interesting and therapeutic (just in case you’re having an early career crisis) to revisit some of the iconic names behind our favorite soundtracks, and briefly explore some of the circumstances they found themselves in before getting their big break.
Also just for fun, I’ve included an alternate career path for each composer, in case in some other life they were completely terrible at music and needed to pay the bills through other means.
Let’s begin with the first 5 composers on our list!