SOUND AND MUSIC
Job Title: Senior Vice President Of Music
At DreamWorks, Todd Homme is responsible for all live action film and television music matters. He works closely with filmmakers to determine music needs and coordinates with his staff to fulfill their requests by contracting a composer, securing a previously recorded or original song, or procuring a sound track deal. He is also involved in the financial aspects of music use.
A broad knowledge of music, music composition, and publishing, and an understanding of how the film industry works, diligence in learning about the industry, who the important players are, staying abreast of new music, and the ability to negotiate are all essential. “You have to be able to get along with people,” says Homme “and it helps to have a sense of humor.”
A Typical Workday
On any given day, Todd Homme may negotiate a fee to hire a composer for a film, or talk through the logistics of score production with the composer and producers. He meets with directors and producers throughout the filmmaking process to determine their music needs, such as which composer is desired, specific songs they are interested in licensing, artists they may want to record new material for the film, and whether there will be a sound track album. At any given time, he usually will have eight to ten pictures in various stages of production. He may be on the phone talking with a record company representative on sound track issues or arranging for the label to receive artwork and marketing materials. “At any moment I might be called to handle paying a guitar player, hire a world-class composer or a superstar artist, book a studio, or establish a music budget for a film.” Throughout the day he may attend a screening of a film, meet with other department employees to ensure they have the information and tools they need, or listen to music for song ideas to pitch to a director.
Advice for Someone Seeking This Job
Become a member of industry organizations and volunteer to work at seminars and other events so that you are in a situation to meet people and develop contacts. Learn all you can about the industry, such as the names of important players. After you have gained a good base of knowledge, apply for an internship or assistant position to get a foot in the door.
What do you like least about your job?
“Arguing about money. That is a short sentence about a big subject. I work for very conspicuous people in this business and we're riding the crest of our recent success. We've had Steven [Spielberg]'s picture, Saving Private Ryan, win several Oscars, including Best Director. Then most recently, American Beauty, which was a small film done for a modest budget, with a first-time director and a first-time writer (both of whom won Oscars), together with a young cast. In many respects, it was a small project. The fact that there are three guys that run this company [David Geffen, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Steven Spielberg] that are very big in the industry doesn't mean every project has an enormous budget. Sometimes you get tired of explaining that we have budgets and limits we have to live within. “—Todd Homme
What do you love most about your job?
“Variety—there are all kinds of commingling of people, ideas, attitudes, and challenges. There is always something new. I like working with the people in creative disciplines that are the best in their given field. You get to talk with them and ask questions about their own journey. That is pretty wonderful.”—Todd Homme
Professional Profile: Todd Homme, DreamWorks
Todd Homme grew up in Saskatchewan, Canada, “where everybody freezes and every boy learns to play hockey.” Growing up, Homme was torn between a career as a hockey player or as a guitarist. Little did he know that hockey would one day be the key that would open the door to a job in the entertainment business.
Homme attended Berklee College of Music in Boston, and then kicked around in a few bands and gained some recording experience. Heading west in 1989, he quickly discovered that Los Angeles already had too many great studio musicians. He found a job to make ends meet and began coaching and playing amateur hockey. “I ended up on a team with some agents and other entertainment people. I was hating my job and asked if anyone knew anyone in the music or film business.” A teammate gave him the name of Bill Schrank, vice president of music production at Warner Brothers Studios, and suggested that he write a letter, since Schrank was too busy to talk on the phone. By this time, Homme was unemployed and beginning to worry about his lack of prospects. About a week after the letter was sent, he decided to try to reach Schrank by telephone. “I was walking downstairs to make the call and the phone rang, and it was him on the other end of the line.” Homme was invited to come by the studio to talk, where he learned about jobs he never knew existed, including one he thought he would be perfect for: Schrank's own. “He said, ‘Good luck! There are about seven of these jobs in the business, one per studio.’”
* “Don't be phony or overstate what you can deliver. Don't run your mouth off about what you can do. Just do it; that will be conspicuous enough. Do your homework and be diligent about learning.”—Todd Homme
Over the next eight months, Homme was only able to get three or four interviews in unrelated fields. He even offered to work for free, just to gain the experience, but was turned down for insurance reasons. At the point when things looked desperate, he got a message from Schrank that resulted in Homme being hired as manager of music production at Disney Studios. Unaware of his status at his new job, Homme recalls, “I was taken to my office by my assistant (I would have taken the job as my own assistant) and she said, ‘You've got a meeting tomorrow morning at eight.’ I said, ‘Will there be any executives there?’ She said, ‘Duh. You are an executive.’ It was really kind of wacky and unbelievable, because I got the job I dreamt about.”
Determined not to lose this opportunity, Homme learned his job duties while working on the 11 films and sound tracks then in production. Over the next four years, he worked on a total of 75 films. A few months after DreamWorks was formed, he came on board as the equivalent of vice president of film music (there are no titles at DreamWorks), working on such box office hits as Gladiator, Antz, Almost Famous, and Academy Award winning films Saving Private Ryan and American Beauty. Homme still plays on a hockey team, which includes some of the industry's most successful actors, agents, producers, and directors, and credits it as being the single most important networking tool he has ever discovered.
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