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  • Writer's pictureAmit Weiner

Film Scoring 101 - What Is The Biggest Mistake You're Probably Making?

In today's world, many people aspire to compose music for films.

Let's face it, who doesn't want to be the next Hans Zimmer?

Hans Zimmer

It's a profession that sounds very sexy (apologies for the term, but it's accurate). And it feels like one can get rich very quickly.

So, here's the thing – many composers and musicians often approach film scoring with the wrong mindset. That is, from a flawed starting point.

What's the problem, you ask?

It's a mindset many film composers starting out have, and I confess, even I had it many times!

And what is this wrong mindset?

Many novice film composers think that the music is more important than the film itself.

We all love music; that's why we chose this incredible profession of being musicians.

I always tell people that I can make music, listen, create, play, and talk about music, every hour of every day. I had periods (before having children, - that’s true) where I worked on the piano or in Cubase, and generally on music from 7am until 11pm.

With breaks to eat, of course, and other necessary things, but generally, that's what our lives as musicians look like. And that's great! It's amazing, and it excites me every day anew, to make music and make a living from it.

SO, what's the problem, you ask?

The problem is that we musicians are wrong to think that music is the most important thing in the world.

It's indeed the most important thing in OUR world, as musicians.

But in the context of a movie, or a TV series, music, dear friends, and I'm sorry that I have to tell you this, is not the most important thing.

A dramatic pause....

Wait, what did you say?

Music is not the most important thing in the world? I, the musician, am not the most important thing in the world?

Sorry, friends, no. In a movie or a series, music is just one of the existing arts there, all of them are meant to serve one purpose (we’ll get to this in a moment).

It's as important, as photography, editing, acting, dialogue, sound effects and likewise any other component you can think of in a good movie.

But it's not any more important than these, and certainly not any more important than the story!

Hans Zimmer says in one of his Masterclasses - a statement he repeats in every possible interview:

“Follow the story!"

That's the number one recommendation for composers who want to succeed in this industry of music for movies, TV, and also computer games, by the way.

The story is the most important thing! NOT your music!

Ah, the story. Nothing in the world can beat a good story.

Even in the tech field, companies often raise a lot of money, hundreds of millions of dollars, based on the story of the company. And many business people will tell you that a company without a story will not succeed in the long run.

Let’s ponder this for a moment – what's the story of the largest company in the world, Apple?

The story is about two friends who dropped out of college, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, who founded a company in the family garage.

The goal was to change the way we think about technology and the personal computer and lead a revolution that ultimately changed our world from the inside out.

And since then, Apple has maintained this story, and what it implies - to do everything differently.

We humans, have always loved, and always will love a good story. An interesting, convincing story, a shared experience. A thrilling teenage love affair like in the film Titanic, or villains trying to destroy the world, like in Marvel's Avengers.

A good story will always win!

Soon I'll get to some tips that are more practical, of what you shouldn't do as film composers, especially at the beginning of your career.

But before that, let's agree that the story is the most important thing in the movie, and not your music.

Let's repeate this one more time:

You, the composer is NOT the most important thing here. The story is the main thing!

So how, as composers, can you take this concept for your own music?

Here are 3 tips that I hope will help you with that:

1. Remember that we film composers, come to help the emotional aspect of the film, and not to show ourselves as musicians, not to show how many chords we know, or how many synthesizers we have.

2. Remember that we’re not writing for musicians! That's the mistake many of us make – writing complex and insanely interesting music that only musicians will want to hear!

This is not the goal in film music. We write music for the film, for the director, for the viewers of the movie, and to enhance the story.

We are not writing music for musicians!

3. Try to understand as early as possible what the movie is about. What is the context of the story? I always ask the directors again and again before I start composing:

  • What is the movie about?

  • What is it really about?

  • Why did you make this movie?

  • Why did you, specifically, make this movie?

All these questions will help you understand the role of your music in the movie you're composing for. It will help you focus on the right feeling that you want to serve the story.

That's it. There's nothing like a good story, dear friends.

I hope that this post was a good story for you too!

And if it was, you're welcome to send it to someone else, whom you believe will also benefit from it.

Here's a bonus: a track I composed for Artlist, who I work for as a professional composer.

And now about you, the reader:

Are you looking for more specific music advice?

I have spent many years advising musicians on many different career matters, and reflecting on my own journey in this field, direction.  I recently began offering an hour of free career consultation per week.

Feel free to consult about career choices such as where to study music, with whom to study, what to do after completing your studies, and any other questions you might have. I was once at the beginning of my journey in the music field and hope to give others the advice I wish I had received :)

About the Author:

Amit Weiner is a composer for film and TV. Signed with Universal Music Group, have licensed over 1,000 tracks, which were featured in 5000+ TV shows and trailers.

Living in Tel Aviv, Israel, and I have the pleasure of working with companies in the film industry such as Universal Production Music, Warner/Chappell Music Group Production, Sonoton (Germany), Non Stop Music, Gothic Storm Music (UK).


His music was played and recorded in such studios as Abbey Road Studios (UK), and has been performed at Carnegie Hall among others.

Receive the Israel Prime Minister Award for Composers 2022! 

Professor of composition and Head of the Cross-Disciplinary Composition Department at the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance in Israel, and always open to meet new musicians and students.


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