1. Hire a professional, and choose carefully! If you have the budget, call a top agency and hire John Williams…I mean, he really is the best! He did the theme for Star Wars! Unfortunately, for 99.9% of filmmakers today, (and those who aren’t Steven Spielberg) this is not a feasible option. The first instinct and most commonly used method of finding a composer is by asking your immediate group of musician friends. So many musicians are willing to try scoring your film for cheap, so this may be seem enticing…
My advice: Don’t do it! You want to hire a professional composer, not just any musician and be especially careful with a friend—if it doesn’t work out, you could damage your friendship. If you don’t know already, composing for film is a true art. It helps you tell your film’s story. It enhances emotions you are bringing to life. When integrated correctly, this music will compliment your film so much, that you won’t be able to imagine watching it without it! The right composer will likely be your friend by the end of collaborating together, but it’s probably best that he/she is your composer first, and friend second.
Now if you don’t have enough money to call one of the top agencies, (they likely won’t take your call unless you’re offering over 60K, and that would be for one of their “small”, up-and-comers), then there are still great options to find professionals out there. I’ve noticed so many filmmakers scrounging Craigslist for a composer, and that seems like a big waste of time. One risk-free option is try my service. I created scoreAscore as a platform to connect you with pro composers. Post your project and say what it’s about. State the price you have budgeted for a composer, and a description of what you want musically (and even post a video of your film for composers to score) and the pool of pros will submit original scores for your consideration. There’s nothing to lose, as each composer is carefully selected.
If this doesn’t appeal to you, find other composer agents, like myself. I am happy to discuss what you’re trying to achieve with your film’s music, and what kind of composer would best compliment your creative goals. If this doesn’t appeal to you, every composer has a website. Check them out, they put a lot of time into making them pretty, though it takes a lot of your time to find and review them! And lastly, check Craigslist 😉
2. Plan it out: find your composer early! If a composer is attached in beginning stages, he/she can gain a greater sense of your vision as a filmmaker from the very start of the project. By sharing this perspective from the get-go, he/she will feel as an integral member of the project, a great sense of how to compliment and share your creative vision.
For example, a composer I represent, Joachim Horsley was attached to a film in its early script stages. He noted a scene where a man sat in a church, praying while listening to an inspiring children’s choir. Joachim wrote the music for a live children’s choir to perform for this scene, before they even started shooting. Having Joachim on board before the shoot spared this filmmaker one more headache during production
3. Set aside a budget, and don’t touch it! If you want your score to be amazing, make your composer feel amazing. Even though you don’t pay for music till the end of your production, (and you always feel like you’ve already spent it all, and you’re way over budget), it is very important to make your composer feel valued. Not only will you get an incredible project, but it makes working together that much better! Of course there will be times that you have absolutely no budget for anything or anyone (everybody on the film is doing it for backend points and you’ve been surviving on Cup O Ramen for 4 months), and in those cases, be sure to treat your composer like you do your editor, producers, etc. Your composer will just want to feel valued, and not taken advantage of! On that note, think about the tremendous amount of time and energy it takes a composer to score a film. Writing, Orchestrating, Arranging, Recording, Editing, Producing, Mixing, Mastering, etc. A composer I represent, Jacob Yoffee, says that it takes him at least 300 hours of hard work to complete a film!