Aleksandar Zavišin is Serbian music composer working as a freelancer but also as a member of few international teams (VSEEN, USA- Founder: Katia Ricciarelli-Reed; Creative Chromatics, Shanghai- Founder Holger Metzger; Easy Shave Media, Dubai- Founder Vladimir Lakobrija and We Are Mad, Amsterdam).
His main skills are music composing, orchestral arrangement, songwriting and singing. He has been working professionally since 2015 on more than 40 projects. Projects were very diverse and included working on commercials, short films, video games, soundtracks, arrangements and theatre music, and the majority of clients were from abroad (USA, UK, China, India, UAE, Switzerland, Germany, Canada, Australia, Turkey and Brazil.) He has a secondary musical education and besides that, he holds Master of Economics degree. Currently, he is working on a score for Serbian feature film Blizanci. He enjoys creating different musical genres but particularly enjoys in theatrical film music that is very close to classical one with full orchestra and that is his path for the future.
Where has your adventure started to get into being a music film composer?
My love for composing music started as soon as I got first computer. I was composing music passionately but with no real purpose. I was not good at using words to communicate so this was one way of expressing my inner self. When my ambitions grew larger I just felt that my talent should be used for films. I am very good at sensing emotions when I see it on film so I thought it would be best to use my talent to enhance films energy. I am just following my inner voice and it will lead me to the place I need to be.
Economy major and film music composer, how two so different careers go together?
In fact very good. I am business oriented music composer which, I suppose, gives me an advantage in comparison to other academy music composers. I tend to respect deadlines and I am very organized. I finished high school for economists and it was only natural that I continue my education in the same direction. And, I was good at it, one of the best students in the generation. After graduation, I enrolled in music school. After finishing elementary and high music school I had more knowledge about music and it gave me more confidence in my skills. I am still primary a full-time employed as an economist but I have more and more music projects coming up.
What is the role of music composer in movie creation?
It depends on the film director. In my opinion music composer has a big role. Ideally, the work of a composer starts before the filming does. Composer should read the script and discuss important scenes with the director. Music needs space to breathe and it also needs to blend with the film so that is why the director needs to know the composer’s opinion about important scenes. If the scenes do not leave enough space for music, it would make composers job more difficult. In post-production, composers should be in touch with the director, video and sound editor as they all need to exchange ideas about music in scenes.
What are the challenges of a freelance film music composer?
A lot of unpaid or low paid work. But at the starting point of career, all jobs should be accepted. Composer still needs to build his portfolio. It is hard to invest in building up the quality of music if you don’t get paid but this is a process. One of the important things is that composer must search for films and film producers. It is a never-ending process. No film producer will come to composer and ask him “hey, will you do the music for my film?”. That doesn’t happen. Therefore, music composer is active 24/7 until he becomes successful enough so that clients would approach to him instead.
In order to start as a freelance composer, you need the previous experience. How difficult is it for a new starter to acquire that experience?
If composer is persistent enough he can always find some unpaid work to do, and by doing that he will build up his portfolio and his self-confidence. It is difficult, but all you need is work work work.
The Internet is indeed a great tool for connecting people with similar interests or to other filmmakers, how important is for you to be present online? (how do you use the internet for your work)
This is very, very important. Composers have that luck that they can work remotely, unlike some others crew members in film industry. Internet is everything you have, you create connections, you show your work, you get paid. I can recommend one website where I found my first clients. That website is Stage 32. Afterwards, I could find clients on Facebook, LinkedIn, PPH and so on. Now I have my own website which is a good tool for showing all my work in one place.
You do Sound FX too. How do you get your sound samples for the specific film? Do you record or use libraries?
I use libraries that I collected over the years. Doing SFX is not my primary work but I manage somehow.
Music is more than half of the film experience, which shows the importance of understanding movies. Is watching movies part of your film music research?
Yes and no. I like watching movies and it is good that a composer can hear some references. But, every film is unique, and, every composer is unique also, so I just try to concentrate on the way director designed the film, the way actors acted, the way editor edited it and do my best to create my own music.
Which of your projects would you choose as your favourite?
I worked on the TV show “ I, human” for a client from Shanghai. We had 27 episodes to do. The level of understanding with the director and level of freedom that I had in creating music was enormous. I was really sorry when I did the final episode.
Where can you acquire knowledge and skills?
When I need some tutorials about the way some programs work I do go to youtube and there is plenty of tutorials there. But, If a composer is to write music for orchestra, then he needs to have some basic education from books and music professors.
Which film composers are your favourite and what have you learned from them?
I like Jerry Goldsmith and John Williams. I am still a way out of their league but what I like about John Williams is the complexity of musical arrangements but in the other hand, very light and catchy melodies he uses with live and big orchestras. Only composers with big ambitions and experience can do such extensive work. I would certainly like to use big orchestras for my music in future. The thing that you can learn from big composers is that creating music is a lifetime process. The composers always learn something new in the process of creating music and they can never say that they had done everything they could in their lifetime.
The importance of collaboration with film director (How important is it to you to get along with the director, and do you like more freedom or more direction when you are creating a score)?
This communication with director is very important. If film director hired you, that means that he likes your style. That is the thought every composer should bare in mind. It will make his work and communication with the director easier. I love to have bigger freedom when I work because I have enough creativity to come up with something unique. Director also needs to give composer some guidance in the beginning. He needs to give composer his thought about the film genre, similar films, music that he likes (youtube links) and also reference music so that composer can have starting point in his thinking.
Besides director, the film editor is a crucial role for making the pace in the film edit. How do collaborate together?
Film composer can inspire film editor. Every composer should try to work in that direction. Some raw music ideas should be given to editor so he can than set the scenes letting the music to breathe more freely in the movie.
How important is to get emotions involved in the process of making a film score?
That is the most important thing in music creation. Music are not just notes, they are emotions. If director, editor and actors did the good job, composer should feel their vision and energy and it should encourage him to enhance emotions he felt by making good music.
Do you have any hobbies that complement the love for music?
I have a lot of other activities I love to do. I love spending time in nature, also love sports (basketball, tennis, jogging, bicycling, chess), I like reading books when I have time and I love to sing.
The democratisation of technology allows us to work from home. How do you record and what technology do you use for making the music?
As I mentioned before, composers can work remotely. For now, I do all the work in my program and sometimes hire musicians if I need live instruments recorded. My plan for future is to record more music with live instruments, but that depends on film budgets. I started working in Pro Tools lately and for now, I think it is a fantastic program for film composers. I was working for more than 10 years in FL studio (previously known as Fruity Loops) but for making film music it just doesn’t work.