Thursday, 30 April 2009

Film Music Industry Links


Here I'll make a list of useful sites connected with the film music industry.

VST Expression Maps for VSL & VSL+


VSL have released Expression Maps templates for their VSL SE and SE+ editions - and Steinberg are now providing them on their site too.

Review of


Quick review of the composition course run by Guy Michelmore called "Music for the Media".

What is it?
A 2 year distance learning course that teaches the technical, artistic & commercial aspects of composing music for media projects.

Who is it for?
The course is aimed at musicians & composers of various levels but they do state you need about 12 months experience in playing / composing and be able to produce a demo track to submit to the tutors.

So, complete musical novices would struggle and should maybe start with the basics.

What level is it?
The course is very well written so it manages to cater for the fairly inexperienced composer / musician, but some experience of recording & producing is desirable.

What's in it?
There are 11 modules that take you on a journey from "writing to a brief" which has no visuals, thru to a full-on 25 minute feature film, whilst stopping off at animations, documentaries & advertising along the way.

The final stop (module 11) is for the student to prepare a showreel and go out into the world & pitch for work!

What Support do you get?
Each module ends with a submission that is marked by working composer, who critiques each submission in detail.

You also have access to the tutors via email or the MFTM team by phone and in my experience they were always helpful.

£499 (GBP) at the time of writing but they also offer installment plans. This covers the two year course but if you do need more time you can extend the deadline by another year at an additional cost.

Obviously its best to contact them for current pricing.

The Course in Practice
After reviewing a lot of distance learning courses, I decided to go for the MFTM course based on the content, the pricing and the breadth of subjects covered.

I signed up and paid online, and then eagerly awaited the course materials - which arrived promptly in a few days. The course materials consisted of a large A4 4-ring Binder packed with the course notes and 6 CDs full of audio and video.

The course notes are nothing fancy being printed on plain A4 paper i.e. no glossy inserts or colour pictures, but that's a minor criticism as the actual content and style of writing is top-notch. The text is written in a laid back but inclusive style, almost as if you were in conversation with Guy himself (which was evident after I attended his annual seminars that support the course).

The CDs (now replaced with DVDs) are packed with interviews with composers, agents, directors and producers that have given their time to share what they think is important in composing music for media. Also, to support unit 4 onwards there are several Quicktime movies that are from actual jobs worked on by Guy.

In the opening text Guy asks you to resist the temptation to skip ahead and read all the course notes, which he does for good reason... I resisted for a few modules but then admittedly I did have a skim through the later units... it just makes you want to rush to those units, hence the request to stick with it step by step.

Also, Guy basically begs the student NOT to quite their day-job and expect to become a composer overnight - sage advice as the industry is diffuclt to break into, fees are sliding drastically and, due to the increased computing power and availability of software, the market is flooded with people calling themselves composers with little more than a DAW and some samples.

The Modules

Each module teaches something subtley or markedly different from the previous one as Guy demonstrates how you cant (and probably shouldnt) be a jack-of-all-trades, and how the producers and directors requirements demand different disciplines from the composer.

Units 1-3 - Music to a brief

These build your confidence in writing music to a brief and get you thinking differently to a traditional "pop" track composer i.e. working to specific timings, changing mood mid-flow, understanding a directors brief.

These modules are also used as a baseline (particularly Module 1) to establish your level of musical and technical skill in composing and producing tracks for the tutors.

I struggled with the initial module, picking over and over my first submission which was a total mistake and cost me about 4 months of the course in my focus on "getting it right". Anyone undertaking this course I would say "just do it" for the first three modules - and I dont mean rush them or dont put the effort in - I mean spend a couple of months on module one and then get it submitted!! The tutors will give you excellent and useful feedback and spur you on to get the next one done.

Unit 4 - TV Documentary

Unit 5 - Animation

In my opinion this is all about hitting the mark in the visual and developing themes that can be associated with the characters onscreen. I think this is one of the more difficult modules but it serves its purpose well in showing the marked difference from TV documentaries.

Unit 6 - Natural History

Unit 7 - Commericals

Unit 8 - TV & Film Drama

Unit 9 - Drama & Short Features

Unit 10-11 - The World of Work 1+2

I did the course from 2006 and finished in early 2008 within the allowed timescales so didnt need the extra time though the last few modules I was moving through at a fair pace of about one per month. There is no final exam or points system for you to achieve a pass-mark, its more about staying the course, building the stamina, technical and artistic skills and the working methods to prove you could make it as a media composer. Oh, and you do have to complete all the modules and submit them for feedback. If you complete the course you do receive a certificate "Diploma in Media Composition" to hang on your trophy wall.


A very well thought out course based on the real experiences of a hard working, Emmy-award winning composer. Excellent support from the MFTM staff and a rewarding course for it's experiences.

Monday, 13 April 2009



My name is Andy Stuteley (aka Stootz) and I'm a media composer with over 20 years exprience composing and producing music, with the last 2 years spent in the media industry earning both paid and collaborative media projects.

I've decided to setup this blog to comment on the progress of all things to do with my media composing work known as StootzMusic ( I'll talk about all things from the musical, production, commercial and business aspects of stootzmusic including the highs and lows. 

I'll also be commenting on the music industry, musical gear, music software, courses, film soundtracks and more depending on the time available.

Let me know if you have any thoughts or questions.



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