Flim composer Mike PattiMike Patti is a wonderful composer who has given back to the community tenfold with this hard work on creating Cinesamples cinematic sample library. Somehow with his free time he also runs Hollywood Scoring. I got the chance to chat with Mike over the summer and discuss how he got involved in samples, how to find a work/life balance, and how to stay patient.

The Start of Something Beautiful: Anything I have ever done in my career started with a small leap or risk and took time to grow. I recently scored a film for a friend and she and I started discussing projects to work on together almost 10 years ago (10 is a number you will see a lot in this discussion oddly enough), and just finally came to fruition. I have invested a lot of time and money into myself, but I have been rewarded many times over with that investment. Don’t be afraid to take a financial risk to do something you believe it and understand that your ROI won’t be immediate, but it will come back. Mike explains how he took a risk to start Cinesamples:

CineSamples started in 2007. I was doing a lot of mock up work for other composers and I was getting pretty good at it. I worked with some older guys who would send me sketches or full orchestrations via fax (I had to buy a fax machine, haha). I noticed there were some big gaps in the market between good sounding sample libraries that were also affordable. So, my buddy from Long Island, Mike Barry, who went to USC right after I did, we got together and decided to make a harp library. We wanted to get all the glissandi and different articulations. We each invested $350 which was an enormous amount of money for us at the time. We did the session at this kind of crappy studio in New York, but with a great harpist. We did the session in a day, I chopped the recordings up myself, and we posted on some composer forums and people bought it. We were blown away, I think we made $2,000 in the first week. It was a $60 instrument library. So, we took all the money we made from that and created a different library. That one did really well so we took the money from that and made another library and each one got exponentially larger in budget and scope. We decided we wanted to record with the best players here in LA at Sony and do it right, and we have completed the whole orchestra—we are done.”

The Importance of Being Earnest: After seeing the film Whiplash I had a small moment of panic when I realized that I wasn’t wired to dedicate every moment of free time I have to being the greatest composer or musician ever. I have other interests and maybe I wasn’t cut out for it if I wasn’t willing to dedicate all my time. Mind you I dedicate a MAJORITY of my time to being a better musician, but was I ruining growth because I couldn’t do it 100% of every day? I don’t think so and I feel there is a life balance that most of us should strive for and make peace with that balance. If you go to bed knowing you worked incredibly hard, you should be proud of yourself.

“Put your family first. Put your personal life first, if you are married or have kids put those things first. Don’t let this become too overwhelming that it damages the things that really matter. If you are going to be doing this your whole life, then it shouldn’t be the only thing. I have friends who are composers and they are obsessive about it. Even a guy like John Williams—he is a COMPOSER all the way— his life is about writing music and he does it every single day. I just don’t see myself that way. I think of myself as a husband and a father who writes music. I really learned that through observation of working with Kevin Manthei. He had a work-life balance I really wanted to emulate. I worked at Media Ventures, before it was Remote Control, and I saw all the composers who didn’t sleep and were just miserable. Then I worked with Kevin and he was successful and happy and wasn’t burnt out. He had a life outside of this so I wanted that too.”

Patience, Patience: I have asked more than a few composers who are many steps higher on the success ladder than I am if I am too old at 33 to begin trying to make it as a composer. Should I be further along in my career? Did I start too late in making a career change? The answer is always NO! Keep going after your dream, you are never too old to try, and always believe in yourself. No matter where you are now, you should always strive to trend upwards and to be patient about it. Mike had this advice:

“Be patient! It’s not going to happen overnight. 1,2, 5 years will fly by and if you haven’t accomplished something in your first few years after graduating already that doesn’t mean you are a failure. I remember Buddy Baker said it takes 10 years before you’ve done something of note that will allow you to get more work. That was something that really stuck with me. When I graduated, I knew it was going to take time before I was really doing anything. It took about 10 years, before I could make enough money so my wife could quit her job because that was her dream. Now I feel like I’ve accomplished something.”

Read the full interview.

Tim Hare B.M. '11
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