The mixed bag of projects that composer and sound designer Chanda Dancy works on now is as varied as the projects she took when she first started out in Los Angeles, and she advises taking every single one. “Don’t ever say no, especially when you’re first starting. It may not be so glamorous; it may be a student film or something for 100 bucks, but take stock of the people asking you to work on them, do above and beyond and people will recommend you to other people. I haven’t had a business card since 2004, because of word-of-mouth,” Dancy says.
According to her, taking on all projects when she was getting started 10 years ago opened her up to the filmmaking community and eventually led Dancy to opening her own studio this past June. “In 2004, right when I graduated from University of Southern California, I had the idea I was going to work with Hans Zimmer or something and pay off all my students loans in one summer. But I was getting short film gigs, and I did one in particular, and it was a little difficult,” she says.
The girl working on the film couldn’t pay Dancy at all, but the composer stuck with the project to establish relationships; now the editor of that film is one of Dancy’s closest directing partners now.
“From personal experience, the most practical thing is always to have a good source of income. Use your own capital to make your dream come true. Take as many different projects as you can, meet as many people as possible, do 100 percent and remember no one is going to hand you anything.”