backyard crowing


first real friend

I have met a kindred spirit film composer, I will call her Laura.

She also had a professor that was too tough on her, at a school here in LA.

She came to her composing class early everyday, and stayed late.

She worked on assignments starting on the day they were assigned, and was always first to turn in her projects.

She took her professor's notes to heart, and always changed her scores based on the critiques.

She worked very hard in his class. His name was Andrew, let's say. I found him on LinkedIn.

Well, he yelled at the class one day, saying that no one had followed his instructions, everyone had disobeyed the notes, and he was furious.

Or maybe it was a mass email. I can't really remember...but whatever it was, he was very harsh with her. Too harsh. So she emailed him explaining herself, and pointed out that she really DID follow his instructions.

He didn't respond well to her standing up for herself at all. He wrote threatening emails, and said he wouldn't recommend her to any film director. He was totally crazy and cruel, and she was hurt badly.

After that semester ended, she didn't touch composing for an entire year. She went home to her city and husband. She taught ProTools to students, but composed no original music. She basically gave up her passion because of one dipshit.

After a year, she had recovered enough that she returned to school. She came back to LA, and completed her degree last December.

Her professor left the college, came back again to teach, and then later got fired. Many of the professional organizations he was part of kicked him out due to his craziness. Her experience with the professor was no lone incident, others had issues with him, too.

Sometimes she thinks about what would happen if she ever saw the guy again. After all, they both live in LA, both work in the same industry, and both belong to the same professional organizations. She could have bumped into him tonight, at a random networking event.

She said she wrote her end-of-semester course review, and first gave it to a classmate to proofread. The classmate read it, and recommended that she not submit the review, and to let it go, not burn bridges. So she opted not to give any course review.

Many of her classmates DID send the professor harsh reviews though. And he thought one of those reviews was one SHE wrote. So there were more threatening emails from him. I'm not exactly sure what they entailed, but I know for sure that at some point down the line, he stated that he would never, ever recommend her. That's a really harsh blow to someone so new and fresh and hardworking. Basically the only contact a student has is a professor who is in the biz.

So when your ONLY contact says they won't recommend you, it's like a kick in the face. The one person who you're trying so hard to impress... and they hate you. Or it appears as if they do, and they're playing mind games. You're vulnerable to emotional manipulation. Threatening emails, what have you.

She said she learned many things from this experience...

1. To not take too seriously things that happen in film school.

2. She says she was weak, and now she is strong. I say she was strong, and now she is stronger. Strong people stand up for themselves.

3. Some of her classmates loved the professor, were brown noses, and got praise from him. Even though he was unfair to her, they didn't stick up for her, they weren't on her side. This bothered her, but she came to realize that their relationships with him were their own, and could be however. That their experience was different than hers, and that was okay, she didn't have to get involved in any drama.

4. She says that if she sees him at an event, she will apologize. She got this idea from a 50 year old neighbor, who recommended it. At first, she was opposed to the idea. She said, "Apologize? But I haven't done anything wrong!" Her neighbor said to think of it as an "I'm sorry that happened" type of apology. Not that Laura had anything to feel remorse about, but that she was sorry the whole thing happened to begin with.

5. That when she encounters unreasonable people in this industry, and she will -- she has decided to keep her head down and take the advice, and keep fixing the music. Even if the people above her are cruel, ridiculous, or don't recognize her hard work. Even if she has already fixed this issue, she'll just say, "okay, I'll fix it," and continue on her way.

I have mixed feelings about that fifth one, because it could disempower people. Also, she's Asian, and Asians (particularly women) have a sad stereotype of being overly submissive. This has been perpetuated by the media for a long, long time.

I'm concerned for her that people will try to take advantage of her, or assume she's quiet and will just bow down to whoever.

But I also see where she's coming from. In our business, we have to keep working until it's finished. What the director likes and what we like don't need to match up -- but we have to do what the director wants, ultimately. We can argue for our cut, and we sometimes win, but we don't have the final say.

Laura tended to downplay her emotional words, didn't want to classify the professor's behaviors as abuse, and didn't want to use what she felt were overdramatic words. She still had a tear run down her face, though. She experienced a trauma. She was nearly swayed to abort her passion -- but she came back. Even without her professor as a reference, she returned to her DAW and saw it through.

I have my first real friend in LA. She lives 8 minutes away by car on a weeknight.

Our tales are shockingly similar, aren't they! Too similar to be coincidence.

10:24 pm - Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2018


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