Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Music in Indie Film and an introduction to Tony Longworth

You wrote the script, you got the money and you went out and shot your film. You put effort into the effects - they look good, you got decent performances out of your actors, you're happy with the look you got and now, it's time for post... you just cut it, throw in some sound effects and you're done, right? Well, unfortunately, for a lot of filmmakers, that's what you get... I'm not sure if they think they can't afford music or if they just don't think it's important, but it is. In fact, it can make or break a film, especially an indie film. So, it's with great pleasure that I introduce Tony Longworth and I'll let Tony explain who Tony is...

It’s no surprise that music is one of the most commonly overlooked elements in many independent movies. The indie-filmmaker has a very limited budget, so when the time comes for music, the pot is usually empty and the filmmaker has to resort to using public domain or band written music. Now this music will probably work fine with the movie in question, as the filmmaker tends to spend a long time sourcing the existing music, but it will be nowhere near as good as a score specifically written for that movie.

I guess a lot of filmmakers either think that they can’t afford a composer or they just don’t have the contacts. Let me tell you that there many are composers out there willing to work on low or non-existent budget movies. How do I know this? Well, I’m one of them.

My name is Tony Longworth and I’ve been involved with music and movies for over 15 years now. I’ve been in several bands and I’ve written music for many movies in that time. All of the movies I’ve written music for are of the lower budget variety, with the percentage of them sitting in the horror genre. I’ve only ever been paid upfront once for writing music and that was a meagre £50. In most cases I’m quite happy with a credit in the titles, a copy of the movie and a promise of a cut of any profit made which in nearly all cases is a big fat zero.

Now this lack of incoming money for my music is never going to put me off. Writing music is my passion and I love movies, so I’m going to keep doing what I do. That’s not to say that I wouldn’t like to be paid for what I do, that goes without saying, it just means that I’m not in it for the money alone. My main goal is to bring something good and something original to a movie, I want my music to make the movie live, for it to come alive and thrill an audience with all its different emotions.

I know for a fact that I’m not the only composer in the world who feels like this. Hell, there are hundreds of us, maybe even thousands out there who are looking for good, exciting indie movies to score, so there’s really no excuses – do a little searching on the internet and you’re sure to find a good, willing composer who can bring a little magic to your movie.

Now, some filmmakers might worry that although they’ve found a willing composer, they are in fact not local to them – they could even live on the other side of the world. Well, let me reassure you by saying that this isn’t a problem at all because I actually live in the north west of England, close to Liverpool, and most of the movies I’ve scored are American and my location hasn’t impeded me at all. The internet really has made this planet a smaller place. I know it sounds corny, but I’ve seen that evidence with my own eyes. When I’m working on a project, the director will e-mail, chat or even speak to me across the internet, uploading scenes for me to view, giving me direction. I then send music ideas direct to them electronically, any time of the day – it’s a 24/7 process that is fast and inexpensive. From my own experience it works a treat and I believe that there really is no other effective way of working.

So my advice to all filmmakers, do that search, spend a little time dropping e-mails and you’re guaranteed to find yourself a composer that will make your movie that much better.

Like I said, Tony will be writing further posts on his trials and tribulations as a composer on indie films... Now, if you have any questions on the topic, feel free to email me at and I'll pass them on to him. For that matter, feel free to email me if you have any questions at all, or want us to cover any topics in particular.

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