Film and television composer Alex Heffes, the World Soundtrack Academy’s 2011 “Discovery of the Year,” has made his most recent mark scoring the Hulu original series 11.22.63, starring James Franco and based on the Stephen King best-selling novel, and also a new rendition of ROOTS. Heffes has worked as an arranger and writer, collaborated with Elton John, and was put on the map by scoring music for the Oscar winners One Day in September and The Last King of Scotland. He attended a prestigious school for music in London, yet he says he got where he is today not with training, but a grassroots, collaborative networking approach.
“I tried to meet people in the industry by recording sound, joining film clubs,” he says. “And then my first paid job was totally coincidental. Someone told me they had met a film composer looking for an assistant, and that I should send some of my stuff. That was amazing training. So I would say it’s good to try everything, and then expect something completely random and unexpected to happen. Stay open to opportunities.”
In music school, Alex Heffes studied music history and theory, not composing for film and television. He says “having some exciting experiences, responding to a movie and getting on with people” are more critical to preparing for a film composing career than schooling, in most instances, and student films are the gateway to the industry.
“It’s really vital to work on student films,” he says. “You don’t necessarily have to go to film school. Just look on message boards; the Internet is a wonderful thing. People always need someone to work on student films. They’re short, you can experiment without financial pressure, you form relationships and get to know what your generation is doing in film.”
Photo by Rama Knight
Most Recent: 11.22.63, ROOTS