We are back with another edition of composer spotlight, the blog series where we talk with emerging film & game composers around the globe. This week we have British film composer Mitchell Gibbs.
Mitchell has recorded with us twice previously and was one of the composers at our inaugural recording session back in January.
How did you get interested in writing music for film?
I was first introduced to film music when I was studying A-Level Music Technology. I had to write a piece of music to a given brief using Logic. I enjoyed the challenge of having to tell a story through music while exploring different instruments, textures, and chords to invoke different emotions and feelings along the way. I later enrolled in a Music Technology program at university. While there, I took modules in film and media composition to better my understanding of writing for these mediums. I also took on a number of student film and game projects to help hone my craft, and I haven’t looked back since!
As film composers, we can often find ourselves wearing many hats. How do you balance all the different aspects of a career in writing music for film?
It is true. Somedays I feel like I’m doing more admin work than writing! As rule, I try not to bite off more than I can chew. Even if that means turning down projects. I believe having a good work life balance is very important. Having a strict schedule helps, too. I like to write in 2-3 hour blocks then rest/do admin work for 30 minutes then repeat. This way I’m getting music written and admin work done. When on a film project, I like to make a timeline up until the deadline and work out what needs to be done and when to meet said deadline, and how much music I need to write in a day to archive this. I think it boils down to discipline and experience, it takes time to find something that works for you. Just don’t burnout!
How would you describe your process when composing for a film or game project?
I always like to sit down with the creative lead and have a general discussion about the musical direction of the project. It’s important to make sure we’re on the same page musically before starting. For film, I try to avoid reading scripts and only start writing music once I get a full cut of the film. This way I’m going into the scoring process with no preconceptions of the film. For games, depending when you’re brought onto the project, there may not be a build of the game ready for you to see. So you may end up writing using concept art instead. However, this isn’t an issue, as the music isn’t linear like a film score, unless you’re scoring a cut scene.
Once the musical approach has been established, I like to sketch ideas out on the piano before fleshing them out in my sequencer. I like this approach as it forces me to focus on the most important aspects: melody and harmony. I always find sending off the first cue the scariest for me as you hope you’ve knocked it out the part musically speaking. After that first cue is approved, I find it a bit easier as you’ve established a music pallet your clients like.
Do you have a favourite instrument to write for?
I always gravitate towards the cello. I like its wide register and wealth of tones it can achieve. From dark, sinister tones in the low bass clef to intense melodies in the treble clef.
Is there are film/game score that you feel is underrated or doesn’t receive enough recognition?
Thomas Newman’s score to ‘The Shawshank Redemption’. I’m not sure if it’s underrated per se, but I feel Thomas Newman’s work sometimes gets overshadowed.
If you would like to hear more from Mitchell please go and check out his website and social pages:
We hope you enjoyed this interview!
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