Having started his ACM experience on the Drum Diploma course and Cert HE programme, ACM’s Creative Sound Design degree programme Alumnus (2011) James Elsey, decided that he wanted to focus on Composition.
Making the move the ACM’s Creative Sound Design degree programme in 2009, enabled James to pursue his passion for composition, learning about the post production process in media and experimenting with many styles of music in order to practise scoring to video.
ACM caught up with James to chat about his progress and development since graduating from ACM in 2011.
What have you been involved in after ACM?
My most significant and recent achievement has been signing a deal with composer agency: SMA Talent on their SMARawTalent roster of up and coming composers. They represent some of the biggest composers in the Film and TV Industry and have amazing contacts, so the fact that they are also helping and nurturing a new generation is brilliant.
I have also begun to build up my list of credits which has included various work for News UK and it subsidiaries: The Sun, the Times, Style Magazine and Fabulous Magazine. The project I am most proud of was the companies video submission to the Media Week 2012 Awards, which won its category. For this I composed a full Orchestral score.
Elsewhere I have composed for Fashion Event videos, a trailer for an Independent American Horror film and a whole host of short films: my favourite here being an animated short ‘There Are No Kittens In Paradise, which premiered at the Pictoplasma Animation Festival in Berlin this year.
Finally I have had some success writing library music, which I began building up straight after finishing at ACM. 20 of my tracks are licensed with Cuesongs and I am in the process of signing up some new works with No Sheet Music.
What are your aspirations for the future?
My dream is to be scoring for Film, TV and Video Games so I am hoping that my agency will give me the platform in which I can make this happen. While I have previously had to find all my own work as an unrepresented composer, I can now seek out projects with a company behind me that can take care of all of the negotiating and contracts side of things.
In the short time I have been with SMA Talent they have also already been sending me briefs for smaller budget projects, thanks to their vast number of industry contacts. As long as I continue to put in the hard work, I should be able to further build on my list of credits and who knows what could happen. I am very excited to see where the next 12 months takes me.
What advice would you give to students looking to become a Composer?
While you’re still at ACM, use every resource at your disposal to improve your writing and producing skills: book one-to-one tutorial sessions to get feedback on your tracks, get inspired at the masterclasses, make yourself known to the ACM Industry Link team and discuss the avenues you can pursue when you leave ACM.
Once you graduate it can be very daunting where to start. In all honestly you need to be either living in London or close enough to travel for meetings, networking etc. This is the centre of the British media industry and where you are going to find most of your work.
When it comes to building your clientele and networking for jobs, I would say you need the three P’s. You need to be Pro-active and constantly looking for scoring opportunities. When there isn’t much going, build up a nice selection of library music as this can be another lucrative form of income. Be Persistent in chasing people up, but without coming across as annoying. They will know you are keen and good at keeping on schedule if you’re making constant contact with them. Finally and most important, be Patient. You are trying to make a name for yourself in one of the most competitive and saturated industry’s there is and half of these people give up when it gets too tough. When something good happens, celebrate it! It will give you the morale to push on through the harder times.
View James’ profile on SMA Talent.
ACM would like to thanks James for getting back in touch and sharing with us his personal development and wish him well for his forthcoming projects.