Ep. 114: A peek behind the curtain of film composition, with composer Garrett Hope

A peek behind the curtain of film composition

Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash

Music can profoundly impact our experience of a movie’s story. How and when does this soundtrack come together? Composer Garrett Hope takes us behind the scenes of the film scoring process.

Garrett Hope, DMA
Garrett Hope, DMA; Photo by Briony Hope Photography


My guest today is Dr. Garret Hope, an award-winning composer of film and concert music. Garrett uses the medium of music to tell stories and create life-changing experiences. Garret is also a fellow podcaster; he started The Portfolio Composer podcast and blog to help composers with the business end of writing music through mindset, marketing, and business skills.


We discuss:

  • Music’s effect on how we experience the story of the movie.
  • The process of composing a film score, including:
    • At what point in film production is the composer first brought in, or does it really depend on the type of film and who the director is and what their system is?
    • Who is giving input & direction to you? Is it the director?
    • Are you typically given very specific guidelines, or do you have quite a bit of leeway for coming up with your own ideas for the score?
  • Is there a typical career path of a film composer?
  • Suggestions for listeners who may want to explore this career path more, whether young students or adults.

Connect/Other Resources

  • Garrett’s website
  • Garrett’s podcast: The Portfolio Composer podcast and blog
  • Facebook & Twitter: @theportcomposer
  • Ultimate Music Business SummitGarrett and I connected through his Ultimate Music Business Summit in January 2021. This incredible event will be held again in January 2022 – I’ve already purchased a VIP pass and hope to see you there!
    • The Ultimate Music Business Summit (UMBS) 2022 [UPDATE: UMBS 2023 dates are January 5-7, 2023; learn more at https://www.musicsummit.biz/]
    • January 6-8, 2022
    • Tickets:
      • Basic Ticket Super Early Bird (purchased before Oct. 31): $7
      • Basic Ticket Early Bird (purchased before Nov. 30): $14
      • Basic Ticket: $17
      • VIP (access to all video recordings) Super Early Bird (purchased before Oct. 31): $67
      • VIP Early Bird (purchased before Nov. 30): $97
      • VIP: $137
    • UMBS on Facebook

In-Episode Promo

This is a quick break to tell you about the digital sheet music site I have used for probably a decade! Sheet Music Direct is powered by music publisher Hal Leonard. They have more than a million sheet music arrangements that you can view – and listen to – right from your device for convenient online shopping and immediate downloads of educational, classical, and pop scores representing any genre and holiday. Prices start at $0.99 and you can both print your purchases instantly and access them on any device, which really comes in handy for our family when we’re out of state visiting Grandma & Grandpa, and they want to hear my kids play the piano! Sheet Music Direct has saved me countless hours of driving to music stores and sifting through bins of sheet music and books to find the right song (and hoping the perfect song isn’t out of stock). Access the latest hits and yesterday’s classics at sheetmusicdirect.com.

The Business Side of Music podcast


Garrett shares a recording of his setting of Gerard Manley Hopkin’s poem, “God’s Grandeur.” This composition won the 2003 Young Colorado Composers Competition and put him on the path to being a composer.

Closing Words

And that is a little bit of Garrett’s setting of “God’s Grandeur”; gorgeous! A huge thanks to Garrett for sharing with us today, and for his role in putting on the first Ultimate Music Business Summit last year, and the upcoming event in January 2022. I’ve already purchased my VIP pass for the 2022 event, which will be held January 6-8 online. If you’re listening to this before Oct. 31, get on their website now and order your Super Early Bird tickets! These start at $7; if you’re listening to this after Oct. 31, you can still get an Early Bird ticket before November 30, and a regular ticket after that. You really do get a double whammy from this ticket — great content in the sessions AND wonderful connections with other attenders and presenters. The website is in the show notes; I hope to see you there! I want to give a shoutout to listener Martha Hilley. Martha is Immediate Past President of MTNA (Music Teachers National Association), and she left this comment on the podcast website recently: “Mindy, I just finished listening to Ep.113. What a truly concise gem you have shared. I read your podcasts as soon as they come in unless the world is coming to an end! If no time, they go in a folder on my computer for a later read. Keep this coming. Your ideas are wonderful, your guests are stellar and I look forward to having a chance to share some time with you next March when MTNA is in Minneapolis. Maybe we can set up a definite time before the madness of our first live conference in two years actually starts…” Thanks so much for listening and for the message, Martha! I really appreciate it. And in case you haven’t seen my reply back on the website – yes, I would love to meet in person in March during the convention! Thanks to all of you for listening – I would love to hear from you! You can reach me on email (mindy@mpetersonmusic.com), Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or LinkedIn. As always, all these links and links from today’s show – and a transcript of this episode – are in the show notes. All links are also in the episode details right in your podcast app. Thanks so much for joining me today. Until next time, may your life be enhanced with music.

View Episode Transcript

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