Thursday, July 17, 2008

Don't be put off by Failure - Tony Longworth

Here's a another post from our resident indie film composer, Tony Longworth. As usual, his post gives great insight into the world of indie filmmaking and his story is equally pertinent to indie filmmakers as it is to indie composers. As usual, if you have any questions for Tony, shoot me an email and I'll get it answered...

Yes, it comes to us all. I’m not talking about death here, although that does come to us all at least once in our life. I’m talking about failure. And it’s not just any old failure, its failure of something you’ve put your heart and soul into as well as your time and hard earned cash.

Now, my experience comes from the music side of things, but I’m guessing a lot of people reading this will have suffered failure in other forms. Maybe your movie was knocked back from a festival, your script wasn’t received favourably or your acting was criticised.

There’s always going to be people out there who really don’t like what you do, but for every one of them there’s going to be a whole lot more who really dig your stuff.

We kind of focus on the negative. It’s difficult to ignore that one comment or review that says you suck, even though there’s another 10 saying you don’t.

After years of being really irritated by the people who don’t like what I do, I now manage to subconsciously blank those naysayers & focus on the people who dig what I do.

It’s all really down to belief & confidence in what you’re doing. If you’ve got the belief that your project is good & the confidence to actually do it, then who gives a damn about some dude who has taken a personal dislike to your thing? Who gives a damn if your movie isn’t played at a certain film festival? Who gives a damn if you’re turned down for a role?

Take the positive, ignore the negative. Pick yourself up, dust yourself down & carry on regardless.

I recently had a bit of a failure with one project I was working on. It was a short vampire movie, the director was looking for a composer & I got in touch letting him hear a selection of my past work. He was impressed & asked me to compose the soundtrack to which I did over the course of about a month.

The finished soundtrack consisted of 6 different pieces of music, I was really happy with what I had created & the director was equally happy.

Unfortunately, unbeknownst to both the director & myself, the people who actually funded the short movie where looking round for a ‘named’ composer at the same time as I was writing the soundtrack.

When I submitted my music to the director, he let his investors listen to it & they turned around & said “yeah, it’s cool, but we want to use this other composer because he’s worked on big movies” – you can imagine how disappointed I was. Not only had I spent all that time composing the soundtrack, I also really want to be part of the project & work with that particular director.

I spent several days feeling really pissed off with the whole thing. I was kicked off the project for a guy who’d worked in the music department on Lord of the Rings. Could he write a better soundtrack than me? Maybe, maybe not. But that wasn’t the point.

Soon after that, I got a chance to work on another movie & it slowly dawned on me that I hadn’t wasted my time because the music I’d written was good & it could easily be tweaked & morphed to be used in a different project. That’s exactly what I did & I got something positive out of a failed project.

So, the moral of this story is; no matter what you do & no matter what happens to your music / script / movie or whatever, remember that you’re not wasting you time. You’re actually honing your craft, gaining experience, collecting knowledge. It’s all good.

It’s a big old world out there & thankfully there’s a lot of different people who like a lot of different things so no matter what type of product you create, there’s bound to be a market for it somewhere.

For more information on Tony Longworth, visit his Myspace page -

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