What Does A Film Composer Do (including Their Typical Day at Work)

Alyssa OmandacCareer, Overview

Salary, Job Description, How To Become One, and Quiz

Film Composers

Film composers create original pieces of music to go into films. They work collaboratively with other professionals to write music with the right tone for certain scenes in the film, and then they record the music that they have written.

Interest Match

The film industry is huge and there are many different types of jobs that you can get.

A film composer is going to be responsible for writing the score for a film. They will write all of the original music that is going to go into the film based on the tone that the film is going for.

It’s also notable that film composers are responsible for recording the film score.

What they do

Film composers create original pieces of music to go into films. They work collaboratively with other professionals to write music with the right tone for certain scenes in the film, and then they record the music that they have written.

Watching the Film

Watching the film is an important part of the process because a film composer needs to learn about the film to create the music. Generally, a film composer will be given a rough cut of the film so that they can get an idea of what the director is going for. This gives the film composer a chance to understand the tone of the movie and come up with ideas for the musical score. 

A film composer might not always have access to a rough cut of the film, though. Even so, film composers will be given materials to work with so that they can be inspired to create a musical score. Over time, a film composer will use the materials that they have been given to create music that they think matches the film best.

Compose Original Music

Composing original music is the biggest part of the job for a film composer. If a film composer is tasked with composing music for a 90-minute film, then they will need to create approximately 45 minutes of music. The general rule is that a movie will need enough original music to fill half of its run time, but this can differ from film to film. 

Actually composing the music is something that will differ depending on the composer who is involved. Depending on the musical genre that is being utilized, a composer might utilize different methods to compose music. Some film composers might start by composing music on a keyboard or piano, but there is no one specific approach for composing film music. 

Collaborate with Other Professionals

Collaborating with other professionals is a crucial element of being a film composer. Film composers need to be able to work with other professionals who are working on the film. A film composer is likely going to need to discuss things with directors and various other people so that the score turns out properly.

Sometimes a film composer might need to alter or cut certain music that has been composed for the film. Working creatively with other people might pose challenges for some, but it’s necessary to try to bring a director’s vision to life as a film composer. Successful film composers have strong voices and opinions, but they must take other professionals’ opinions and desires into consideration.

Successful film composers have strong voices and opinions, but they must take other professionals’ opinions and desires into consideration.

Record the Music

Once the music has been composed, it’s going to be necessary for the film composer to oversee the recording process. Film composers are tasked with recording the entire score for a movie. This can involve going into a studio with several other musicians to record and mix the songs that are being used. 

Some film composers might need to hire out entire orchestras to get the music that they need for a film. Other film composers might go for music that is easier to record with just a handful of musicians. Either way, the film composer will be overseeing the recording process to ensure that the music turns out the way that they want it to. 

What is the job like


Getting to Be Creative

Being able to let your creativity out is one of the biggest perks of working as a film composer. Film composers are able to express themselves by creating unique pieces of music that are designed to match up with the artistic visions of various films.

Working Closely with Other Creative Individuals

Working closely with other creative individuals has the potential to be very satisfying. Film composers will be collaborating with other talented creative people such as film directors to create a collaborative work of art.

Being Able to Work Alone

Despite needing to collaborate with others, film composers also spend a significant amount of time working alone. A film composer is given ample time to come up with original music for film scores, and they’re largely left to their own devices after being given the right reference materials. 



Deadlines will be difficult to deal with for some film composers. Films have target dates for completion, and a film composer will need to be able to deliver a completed film score in a specified amount of time.

You Don't Have Complete Artistic Freedom

Film composers are allowed to be creative and bring their unique qualities to a project, but that doesn’t mean that they have complete artistic freedom. Some ideas might get shot down because a film director has a different idea for the type of music that should accompany a given scene.

Where they work

Film Studios
Video Game Industry
Television Industry
Music Industry

Film composers can work in a number of different places, and there isn’t a specific place where film composers will be all the time. Film composers will usually spend a lot of time in home studios or professional recording studios to work on creating music. Once the music has been written and approved, a film composer will spend even more time in a recording studio environment to get the score recorded properly.

It’s also necessary for film composers to collaborate with others who are involved in making the movie. This means that they might need to meet with people from movie studios, directors, and other professionals. In modern times, it’s possible for film composers to work remotely, though. This means that a film composer doesn’t necessarily have to be near a movie studio or a film set.

A film composer can work in many different industries as well. You’ll find film composers working in the film industry, video game industry, television industry, and the music industry. Film composers might specialize in writing scores for films, but they will also take similar work in other industries.

How to become one

Step 1. Study Music

Studying music and learning how to play musical instruments will be a good idea for any aspiring film composers. 

Step 2. Go to College

It could be helpful to go to college to learn more about music and music theory. This can give you the knowledge that you need to find success as a film composer.

Step 3. Start Composing Songs

To become a successful film composer, it’s going to be necessary to familiarize yourself with composing. You should create music and work on honing your craft.

Step 4. Network

Networking is going to be important when you’re starting out and trying to get jobs. Take the time to attend events and meet people in the film industry so that you can get opportunities.

Step 5. Take Jobs

Now it’s going to be necessary to start taking on jobs to build up your resume as a film composer. It might take time to get recognition, and you might not make a lot of money at first. Many film composers get started working on indie films with very small budgets.

Should you become one

Best personality type for this career

The Artist

People with this personality likes to work with designs and patterns. They prefer activities that require self-expression and prefer work that can be done without following a clear set of rules.

You can read more about these career personality types here.

A film composer needs to be a creative individual who is comfortable working with other professionals. They must be willing to collaborate with other professionals to ensure that the artistic vision of a project is realized. This means that they must possess strong communication skills while also having enough patience to deal with setbacks.

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