Writing music that captures the themes, tones, and even character arcs of a film takes a lot of wisdom that couldn't be summed up in a single article on this site, but maybe understanding the creative process of a Hollywood composer is a good place to start. In this episode of Academy Originals' Creative Spark, composer Christopher Young (Spider-Man 3, The Exorcism of Emily Rose, Drag Me To Hell) details his peculiar approach to composing music for film.

Be as weird as you need to be — I think that's the first lesson we can all learn from Young about kickstarting your creativity. (Who doesn't like to get weird when doing that?) Mash piano keys like a toddler? Scat into your phone for days on end? Wear awesome dernier cri paint splatter shirts? Seriously, where do I sign up and who stole my pen?

The second lesson is crucial, too, though, and that's to know when you should look outward for advice and ideas, and when you should hunker down and be inside of your own head.

Young does both. He'll spend two weeks watching the film and recording his musical ideas on his phone before he enlists the help of his assistants. They're there to essentially listen to his ideas and let him know that not all of them are worthy of getting flushed down the toilet — only 99% of them. This is such an important part of the process for making art, because so many of us are such harsh critics of our own work. We criticize and throw out our ideas before they are ever allowed on the page, in the frame, or on the timeline. (And we wonder why we never finish anything!)


Having people around to hear your vision and listen to your ideas is good not only for your projects, but for your soul — or heart — or armpits, wherever it is that makes you feel the warm fuzzies. 

Source: Academy Originals