Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Q & A with Hollywood Composer & UR Alum Brandon Campbell, '10

Brandon Campbell, originally from Rockland County, New York,  graduated in 2010 with a BA in
Economics and Music Composition.  He currently works at Remote Control Productions, in Santa Monica, CA. He is a composer for TV, movies, and other visual media, such as video games. 

What led to your current position?  During my junior year at the University of Rochester I interned twice at Remote Control Productions, Hans Zimmer’s music studio in Santa Monica, California.  
I got my foot in at Remote Control through a fluke connection; I knew someone that was doing business (non music related) with the studio and at a meeting he mentioned that I was a fan of Hans Zimmer.  They suggested I apply for an internship and the rest is history. 
Upon completion of my second internship I was offered a job to return the following year as a “studio runner”, essentially a paid intern.  The day after graduation I set out for California and worked as a studio runner for a month.  A composer who resides at Remote Control, Ramin Djawadi, was looking for a new technical assistant.  I interviewed for the position and began working for Ramin.  As the title suggests the position requires a lot of technical work; upgrading and maintaining the computers, recording audio, preparing sessions for orchestra, moving data around, etc...  
As time went on more creative tasks came my way; creating sounds, arranging pieces of existing music, and writing music.  I started writing more and more until about 18 months after I started working for Ramin the responsibilities of technical assistant were interfering with the work load for writing.  We hired a new technical assistant to replace me as I moved on as a full time writer.  The past two years I have written additional music for Person of Interest, Game of Thrones, Pacific Rim, Medal of Honor and other projects. Currently I am finding a balance between writing additional music and writing original music under my own name.  

How would you advise current UR students interested in your field? The best advice I can give to students is to soak up everything you can!  Write music, take lessons, learn the computer programs for writing and mixing music, enroll in music theory and history classes.  The Eastman School offers a film music class where you learn to write music to picture and the technology necessary for it. Find film students at UR and RIT and offer to score their projects; you’ll gain experience, make contacts, and have music to add to your demo reel.  
My best advice to graduates or soon to be graduates thinking about taking the plunge into the industry is to work hard and keep your head up.  In most facets of Hollywood when you start off you’ll be doing a lot grunt and/or busy work.  Its a "pay your dues” system; its not always glamorous, it can be long hours, little pay, and menial tasks.  Put your best effort forward!  Show everyone that you care, are interested, and work hard.  I see interns at the studio all the time that are lazy or can’t complete simple tasks… Why would I entrust you on helping out on the $100 million movie when you can’t get a coffee order right?

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