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A career in film and TV composition

Conservatoire graduate Lindsay Wright studied BMus (Hons) Music Technology and built up an impressive portfolio before going on to complete a Master’s in composition for film, television and games at the National Film and Television School.

I started by playing the violin aged five, then switched to the viola. I quickly grew to love playing in orchestras and chamber ensembles, but I was always making up my own tunes and plucking away on my viola when I was supposed to be practising scales. My teacher encouraged me to take piano lessons, which led to trying out the harpsichord and playing in Baroque ensembles, and bass guitar, which led to playing and singing in various rock and soul bands as a teenager. I was writing little pieces for myself and songs with my band, but it was only once I got to Royal Birmingham Conservatoire that I seriously considered composition as a career.

I applied for the BMus (Hons) Music Technology degree because I was looking for a course that would cover all the areas that I was interested in – recording, mixing, composing, musicianship etc. – and that would let me keep up my viola playing as a second study. The constant access to recording studios, one-to-one composition lessons and having a range of fantastic musicians as my peers were also key factors in my decision to join Royal Birmingham Conservatoire.

During my time there I produced EPs for jazz students; recorded classical albums in the wonderful concert halls; recorded and mixed a charity gospel album benefitting the local Food Bank – all alongside writing, recording and producing my own work. I wrote and produced an electro acoustic album; a singer/songwriter EP; a short film score and a premiere of one of my pieces live over a 24 channel surround system, as well as writing orchestral, chamber and solo work for live instruments and tape. I also had the chance to study abroad for a semester, taking jazz arranging, film music, electronic composition and piano performance classes at the Crane School of Music in New York.

My ability to orchestrate, transcribe, record, mix, create bespoke sounds through synthesis and sampling, work with DAWs (and many more) are all skills that I honed while a student at the Conservatoire. I was encouraged to develop my own voice and explore my ideas in an organic way, while being equipped with the technical tools needed to support my creativity. My teachers were extremely knowledgeable, dedicated and supportive throughout my time as a student, which helped me grow in confidence and absorb as much as possible from their expertise.

The strength of my composition portfolio once I graduated saw me accepted at one of the world’s most prestigious film schools – the National Film and Television School – to study a Master’s in Composition for Film, Television and Games, and I immediately began applying what I had learned during my undergraduate degree to the craft of scoring to picture. I was then fortunate enough to work as an assistant and music editor with various established composers who already had distinguished careers in the industry. Highlights of my career so far include working on season 3 of Netflix’s The Crown; season 5 of BBC’s Line of DutyThe Feed for Amazon Studios and Netflix’s The Innocents, amongst others. As a composer, I have scored numerous films, adverts, documentaries, games and series – highlights include the four-part BBC series 21 Again; an upcoming feature documentary for BBC and HBO; The Bind for BBC Films; Entitled for Channel 4’s Random Acts; additional music for the Sky Atlantic series The Tunnel; Stan Lee’s Lucky Man and for the feature film The Aftermath

For anyone aspiring to have a career as a screen composer, I would recommend trying to balance developing your own identity and sound as a composer with being able to write fluently in a variety styles and for a range of media. It's a tough industry to enter, but one built on relationships; so start finding other students who you can collaborate with – film makers, theatre directors, choreographers, artists and so on. Also talk to other composers whose work you admire, make yourself as useful as possible if you want to assist them (learn Pro Tools!), and connect with as many film makers as you can to build up your portfolio.

Find out more about our BMus (Hons) Music Technology