Craig Stuart Garfinkle is an award winning music producer and Emmy nominated composer. His career includes work on feature films, video games, trailers, documentaries, multimedia, network television, commercials, stage musicals and albums. Currently, he is part of the composing team for the yet to be released World of Warcraft expansion, Warlords of Dreanor. In the film and TV music world, his music has appeared in hundreds of projects such as NBC’s The Office, Lost, and countless others. Craig is probably best known, however, for his musical contribution to film trailers with partner Simone Benyacar. Some of their recent projects in this genre include: J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek, Sin City, the last three Harry Potter films, Spider-man III and many more. Craig was part of the composing team for Disney’s Raw Toonage, and the composer for the KAET/PBS production Visions of Arizona. Both programs received Emmy nominations for outstanding original score.
I will never let go of composition. It was really hard for me to let go of orchestration. I’m still mixing everything myself. I still use engineers on projects during recording because I never want to mic an orchestra myself, and when I’m in a recording studio I also don’t want to push the buttons. I want to be focused on the performance and not worry about which tracks are armed. Sure, I engineer for smaller projects, but if it’s not small I don’t do it.
When you really want your music to be good the key is to not rely on the technology, because the humanity is what really makes it good. Even if you only have the budget for one musician, use that one musician.
How much did you pay for your education? How many years did you spend practicing your instrument? It’s a lifetime of study. I joke with my friends who are doctors and lawyers that I have a much, much deeper education than any of them. How long was med school? I started seriously studying music when I was 7 or 8 and I'm still at it.
If you’re a flutist you should put your flute on every cue. Learn how to record yourself playing the flute and do it a lot. Mark Isham is a perfect example, because he’s a damn good trumpet player and he puts trumpet on everything. I’d like to see more composers do that. Especially when you’re younger and you don’t have the budget to hire players, it’s a necessity. You can always edit. The difference between myself and a virtuoso guitarist is only about 2 hours of editing.
When it comes to composers doing their own recording, I recommend getting enough of a budget to rent high-end gear. You don’t necessarily have to buy it. Owning and operating expensive gear is a different business from composing. Let the people who have invested in that make their money back, and just rent it for a week.
When I'm deciding how much I do myself versus delegate it all comes down to quality of life. When you have to do everything yourself it means you’re not sleeping. You can play in all the parts of a symphony orchestra, but think of the time for 1 person to play 80 parts versus an 80 piece orchestra playing one part per person. Do the math. It’s a lot more complicated when you’re alone, and it takes a lot more time. Time is money, so sometimes the key to getting fast, good, and cheap is to avoid doing it alone.
One of the things I would say to the younger composers is that you really need to get involved with the composer community. It’s the best supplement I know to formal education.