Brian LaGuardia


Composer, Orchestrator, Arranger

I had the great honor of being selected as a finalist for the Film Music Festival’s Young Talent Award this year in Krakow. Among the list of benefits for this is an invite to the city for one week of master classes, recording sessions and concerts, as well as catering and partial accomodations!

Unfortuantely it did not include a plane ticket, and since the event was less than two months away at the time I discovered I was a finalist, it wasn’t cheap either. So I decided, for the first time in my life, to start up a GoFundMe to cover the cost. To my great surprise and joy, it was fully funded within 3 hours of posting, and ended up so far beyond the goal that I ended it five days early! The video for that is below, which includes the submission that got me selected:

While it covered my plane ticket and then some, it still wasn’t quite enough to cover a hotel room. And since my lodging was taken care of for the first 3 days, the other 3 I booked a hostel and fell so in love with the experience that I’m going to try and do more international travel!

Among the incredibly exciting things about being selected was that the masterclasses largely involved scoring a scene from a short film, and interacting directly with the directors of that film. This is so invaluable because it is easily the most difficult part of the process to get experience with if you don’t have it already, or don’t get it on a regular basis. The skillset of fast writing, mockups, getting notes and communicating with directors are all equally as important as any musical or technical skill, and it was great to finally dip my toes into that pond again.

Another extremely exciting part of the whole experience was the calibour of our instructors and especially our recording and mix engineer. That man was Nick Woolage. His IMDB is insane, and I encourage you to check it out, but sufficed to say he is a legend that works on top tier stuff and is a very humble, hardworking guy. It was amazing to work with him!

Miriam Cutler was the composer instructor, who always had great insight into what has made her so successful. In addition, I really appreciated the inclusion of the composer agent George Christopoulous. His guidance was so useful! Too often, we don’t get advice from people who are in a position to actually GIVE good advice. What better source is there than someone who facilitates the relationship between the composer and director? He also gave us a wonderful list of must-see films to help connect with directors in their language, and more.

We also had access to the Panderecki Arboretum, which was a nice little decompresison. It featured acres and acres of impressively manicured plants and even a hedge maze! Apparently, the beloved Polish composer was a big believer in “getting lost” in order to find your way again, both compositionally and in life.

And of course, the Film Music Festival itself was a unique and fantastic experience! Here I found a lot of bold and much-needed concert practices that I wish were more common – mainly, the use of synth alongside acoustic instruments and instruments other than the standard orchestral variety (such as the Duduk). It is a celebration I hope I will be able to attend again in the future!

It was also wonderful getting to know all of the other finalists and directors. One of the finalists was even an assistant to Lorne Balfe, which was an exciting revelation and series of conversations. There was so much talent around me that it was hard to fathom!

In short, I made a lot of friends and learned a lot. I hope I get to cross paths with these inspiring, talented people again someday!