The MFA Screen Scoring program is coming to a close for the 2023 class—at least for the Chicago stint. In only six weeks’ time, all twelve composers in the program will be transplanted to Los Angeles for the summer session, the grand finale of the program. During these final five weeks, composers will meet every weekday with special industry guests, who will often bring us into their own studios. After these meetings, the composers will travel across Los Angeles to their internship. The internships are with current industry composers and orchestrators who need an extra hand around their studios. During this time, each composer will prepare their own three-minute piece to be recorded at the Newman Scoring Stage at Fox Studios with an orchestra of LA scoring musicians. It is the culmination of two years of hard work, where we will put our skills to the ultimate test.

I had an awesome time this past spring break. I headed out to Los Angeles to see some old friends, take in some sights, and, most importantly, look for housing. It is up to us composers to figure out where to live in Los Angeles. It can be a bit tricky, because we know where classes will be and will eventually find out where our internships are, but as this is all for just five weeks we may end up working in totally different areas. Some composers go the route of finding an Airbnb or Verbo for that time, and then they find housing once they are settled. Luckily, I have some friends from my undergraduate years at the University of Miami out in Culver City, and when I visited I fell in love with the neighborhood.

My father and myself at the top of the Academy Museum for Motion Pictures

While I was out there, I met up with my good friend and colleague Yuri Kwag and with one of our former composers-in-residence, who I cannot say enough amazing things about—Vivek Maddala. Vivek graciously invited us over and showed us around his house and music studio (which he designed and had built himself). As it came from the mind of a brilliant audio engineer, everything about it is awe-inspiring and a true work of art. It was wonderful hearing what he had to say about the planning and thought that went into everything, and our conversation about the industry and good places to settle down was invaluable. I cannot wait to cross paths with him again out in Los Angeles.

Myself, Yuri Kwag, and Vivek Maddala in his studio

During the rest of our last semester in Chicago, the second-years will finish up our work on our feature-length film in our scoring class. It has been the most useful project I have ever been assigned. Working from top to bottom on a feature film has taught me about developing and keeping track of themes, how to stay organized and efficient, and how to do a large amount of work in a short time. We are also preparing for a remote recording session in Macedonia in the coming weeks, and I could not be more excited. It is truly the final stretch now the spring break is over, and I can tell we are all very eager to get out to the City of Angels.

My father’s first time at In-N-Out