New! Live Workshops

Film Scoring: A Hollywood Insider's Guide to Composing for the Screen

This three-session Live Workshop will teach you the art and craft of Hollywood film and media scoring. Taught by composer and orchestrator Sean McMahon (orchestrator for Spider-Man 3 and Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer), and chair of Screen Scoring at Berklee College of Music, you will explore storytelling, composition, scoring, and technology. You will learn the secret to using screen scoring tools and techniques that have been heard by millions of people all over the world in film, television, and video game scores

  • Weekly on Thursdays, Starting October 20
  • Includes 3 sessions
  • 7 - 9 PM ET

$249.00 for all 3 sessions


Learn More & Enroll
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Workshop Sessions

3 sessions | 1 per week | 6 hours total

In this session, we’ll cover why movies need music, when music is triggered in a film, the role of the composer, and how to read the “kinetics” of a scene. We’ll also explore how movies are made, the three stages of production, and where the composer fits into the filmmaking process. We’ll take a look at the four stages of a “cue,” examine the composing process, and discuss the key players on the composer's team.

After this session, you will be able to:

  • Identify the various stages of the filmmaking process (pre-production, production, and post-production) and its key players
  • Examine the composing process and its key players (orchestrators, copyists, editors, scoring engineers and mixers, orchestra contractors, conductors, musicians, assistants)
  • Read the “kinetics” of a scene
  • Identify the four phases of a “cue”

In this session we’ll cover form and theme organization in film music. We’ll discuss basic concepts to synchronize your music to picture and how to structure your music for a scene. In addition, we’ll explore how to organize your thematic material for a feature-length film. As a case example, we’ll examine Steven Spielberg’s classic, E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, which composer John Williams won an Oscar for.

After this session, you will be able to:

  • Discuss the four types of music in a film (score, source, “scource,” and song score)
  • Synchronize your music to picture
  • Identify theme development and its organization
  • Demonstrate the ability to create themes to support a given character or circumstance

In this session we’ll cover one of the most important stages of the composing process—the ideation stage—where the bulk of the film’s musical palette is developed. We’ll go deep into the creative process and discuss how professional composers generate their musical ideas for a film. We’ll also explore proven compositional techniques that film composers have used over the decades to score specific types of dramatic situations. Finally, we’ll examine basic scoring technology and the software and hardware you’ll need to begin your scoring career. We’ll look at the basic principles behind high-production value for orchestral mockups, discuss the different functions music plays in a film, and explore basic film scoring concepts.

After this session, you will be able to:

  • Describe the media composer’s creative process
  • Develop a method for idea generation
  • Compose for various dramatic situations using the modes
  • Describe the basics of software and hardware requirements for track production
  • Describe the fundamental concepts for producing realistic-sounding mockups


What You’ll Learn

  • How to identify the various stages of film production
  • How to identify the key players in both the filmmaking and composing process
  • How to identify the four stages of a scene
  • How to read the “kinetics” of a given scene
  • How to use modes to support visuals and drama with the appropriate mood and emotion
  • How to identify the arc of theme development in feature films
  • How to demonstrate the ability to create themes to support a given character or circumstance
  • How to compose a short cue that supports a dramatic narrative or visual

Meet Your Instructor

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Sean McMahon

Sean McMahon is the chair of the Film Scoring department at Berklee College of Music. He is a composer and an orchestrator whose credits include Spider-Man 3, Bridge to Terabithia, The Exorcism of Emily Rose, and more. He has also scored a number of video games, including Jump Dewds! and Strata

McMahon hails from Toronto, Canada, and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Film Scoring from Berklee College of Music. He has also completed the University of Southern California’s (USC) Scoring for Motion Pictures and Television program in Los Angeles. 

After his studies at USC, McMahon remained in Los Angeles to work for veteran Hollywood film composer and Golden Globe nominee, Christopher Young (The Shipping News, Swordfish, Runaway Jury). McMahon assisted Young in several roles including project manager and lead orchestrator. Their work together includes such films as The Grudge, Ghost Rider, Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas, and dozens more. McMahon has also orchestrated for Oscar-winner, John Ottman, on films such as Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer and The Invasion

McMahon has been commissioned twice by the American Composers Forum to speak at national composer conferences on Hollywood film music and video game music. In 2013 McMahon shared the stage with game composing titans Lennie Moore (Halo: The Master Chief Collection, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Lord of the Rings: The War of the Ring) and Jason Graves (Dead Space, Tomb Raider) for a game music conference called “Game On!”

Requirements

Recommended Materials and Prerequisite Knowledge

  • Basic knowledge of music theory and notation
  • Minimal experience with orchestration and composing

General Workshop Requirements

Below are the minimum requirements for enrolled students to access the learning environment and participate in Live Sessions. If you opt to use any recommended software for your workshop, please check that your computer meets or exceeds the minimum system requirements for those as well.

Mac Users

PC Users

All Users

  • Latest version of  Google Chrome
  • Zoom meeting software
  • Webcam
  • Headphones
  • External or internal microphone
  • Broadband Internet connection

Higher Learning with Lower Stakes

Live Workshops are ideal for you, if you’re looking for a shorter, more free-form learning experience from Berklee Online—no deadlines, and no grades—just three live weekly sessions with a Berklee instructor, and an award-winning curriculum to explore at your own pace.

  • Live Classes Every Week
  • No Deadlines or Grades
  • Study at Your Own Pace
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Questions?

Contact our Academic Advisors by phone at 1-866-BERKLEE (U.S.), 1-617-747-2146 (INT’L), or by email at advisors@online.berklee.edu.

Academic Calendar, Policies, and FAQs

Oct 14
  • Last day to withdraw from a Live Workshop and be eligible for a refund
  • Last day to transfer funds from a Live Workshop to another Berklee Online program
Oct 17
  • Live Workshops begins
  • Last day to enroll in a Live Workshop
  • Last day to change to a different Live Workshop
Oct 21
  • Last day to submit for a medical withdrawal from a Live Workshop
Nov 6
  • Last day of Live Workshops

Workshop Change

Students may request to transfer their enrollment/payment to an alternate Live Workshop (provided there is room in the alternate workshop) through Monday of the first week of the semester. After this time, a student cannot change into an alternate workshop. To request a course change, students should send an email to registrar@online.berklee.edu.

Withdrawal Policies

All withdrawal requests must be sent to the Berklee Online Registrar’s Office in writing and must include the following information:

  • Your full name
  • The workshop you are enrolled in
  • Reason for withdrawing

Requests to withdraw will not be accepted over the phone. Requests to withdraw must be emailed to registrar@online.berklee.edu.

All withdrawals from workshops need to be received prior to 5 PM ET the Friday before the workshops are opened. No withdrawals will be accepted after this date.

If a student is requesting an exception to the withdrawal policy for medical reasons, please see the Medical Withdrawal/Transfer section below for information on this process. If a student feels they have extenuating circumstances other than medical reasons and wish to request an exception to our policy, please see the appeal policy.

Please note students are expected to have reviewed the computer requirements for each workshop in advance of the workshop beginning. Computer or software issues are not cause for an exception to the withdrawal/refund policies. If a student is experiencing issues with their hardware or software, they can contact Berklee Online’s Student Support via telephone at 1-617-747-2146 option 3 or by email at support@online.berklee.edu.

Workshop Transfers

Students enrolled in a live workshop cannot request to transfer their workshop to a future semester. Students can opt to move their funds from a Live Workshop to another Berklee Online course or program. Requests to transfer must be in writing to registrar@online.berklee.edu and received by Friday prior to the opening of the Live Workshops.

Medical Withdrawal and Transfers

Students who need to withdraw for medical reasons may be eligible for a refund. A medical withdrawal will be considered only if accompanied by a written verification from a medical doctor on letterhead stating the student cannot complete the workshop due to an illness or disability. Please note the doctor’s note must be in English to be considered. The withdrawal will not be allowed if a student fails to submit medical documentation to the Berklee Online Registrar’s Office prior to the end of the first week of the workshops. See above for the exact due date for a medical withdrawal.

The request for a medical withdrawal must be sent in writing to registrar@online.berklee.edu.

Refund Policies

  • By 5 PM ET Friday prior to the opening of the Live Workshops: 100% refund of tuition paid.

Refunds will be based on when the withdrawal is received in writing. No additional refunds on courses in progress will be given once the Live Workshops are opened. Students can find the withdrawal and refund dates above. Please note that all refunds will be provided in United States dollars (USD). Berklee Online cannot be held responsible for any currency rate fluctuations between the date of purchase and the date of the refund.

Students should be aware of the following details:

  • If a student’s payment was made by check, the refund will be issued in the form of a check.
  • If payment was made by credit card, every attempt will be made to process the refund back to the card used within 30 days. In the event we are unable to do so, the refund will be issued in the form of a check.
  • If payment was made using a Berklee Online eGift card, a refund will be issued back to the eGift card. eGift Cards are not redeemable or refundable for cash. Please refer to our eGift Card Terms and Conditions as well as our eGift Card FAQs for more information.

For questions regarding the payment methods we accept, please contact finance@online.berklee.edu or call 1-866-BERKLEE or 1-617-747-2146 if outside the US, Monday through Friday 9 AM – 5 PM ET.

Credit Card Payments

Berklee Online accepts the following credit cards:

  • American Express
  • Discover
  • JCB Card
  • MasterCard
  • Visa

If you do not wish to use the online process, please contact us directly at advisors@online.berklee.edu or our Finance Department at finance@online.berklee.edu or call 1-866-BERKLEE or 1-617-747-2146 if outside the US, Monday through Friday 9 AM – 5 PM ET.

PayPal

Berklee Online accepts payment via PayPal. Students can choose PayPal as an option during the checkout process.

eGift Cards

Berklee Online accepts eGift cards purchased online via GiftUp. eGift cards can only be applied towards eligible course and certificate program offerings. Further information regarding the use of eGift cards can be found within our Terms and Conditions.

Wire Transfers

Berklee Online has partnered with Flywire to streamline the tuition payment process for our students. You will be able to log in to your Flywire account, at any time, to track the progress of your payment and you will also be notified via email or text when your payment is received by Berklee Online.

Before initiating your transfer, please take note of your Student ID or Order Number in order to help ensure your payment is posted to the correct account. Your Student ID can be found on your My Home page, and your Order Number is located in your Order History.

https://payment.flywire.com/pay/payment

How much is a Live Workshop?

Live Workshops are Berklee Online’s most budget-friendly offering at $249. There are no registration fees.

Can I reach out to the instructors for extra help or for additional questions?

No, instructors will be available to students during the 2 hour live sessions held each week. In our 12-week courses, instructors are available to answer questions outside of live class sessions.

Will I be able to access my course after it has finished?

You will be able to access the workshops for 30 days after the end of the workshop. After that 30-day period, we are unable to allow students further access to the workshops. If you have any questions, please contact Student Support via email at support@online.berklee.edu.

Is there coursework and assignments that will be graded?

While there is the course material to review and instructors may provide optional assignments, none of your work will be graded.

How long will I have access to course material after the three sessions are over?

You will have access to course material for up to 30 days after the workshop has ended.

What happens if I miss a class?

Each class is recorded, so you can always play back any sessions that you have missed. We do recommend joining during the scheduled class time if you can so that you can interact with your instructor and peers.

Will I receive course credit for a Live Workshop?

The Live Workshops are a non-credit offering.

Who are the instructors?

Our instructors are Berklee faculty and widely-recognized experts in their field. All instructors are Berklee Faculty or professionals in the industry

How long are the Live Workshops?

Each Live Workshop will be 3 weeks in length with a 2 hour live session held each week.

Are textbooks, software, and hardware included in tuition costs?

No. The required/recommended materials for Live Workshops are not included in tuition.

How many workshops can I take at a time?

You can choose to enroll in as many live workshops as you would like. You should keep in mind that some of the scheduled live sessions for the different workshops could overlap. We recommend reviewing the days/times for each workshop before enrolling.

What happens if my Live Workshop is canceled?

While we will make every effort to run all of our live workshops, sometimes it is necessary to cancel a workshop. If this happens, you will be sent an email letting you know your workshop has been canceled. You will be given the option to transfer into a different workshop, move your funds to another Berklee Online program, or request a refund of tuition.

Where do I go to find the workshop I enrolled in?

Simply log in to Berklee Online and go to your “My Home” page. Links to the workshops you are enrolled in will be located under the “My Courses” heading.

How do I participate in the Live Workshop?

Live workshops consist primarily of live, synchronous sessions hosted via Zoom on the Berklee Online platform. These sessions will be interactive and will include instruction, breakout group discussions, question and answer portions, and more. In addition to the live sessions, you will have access to discussions where you can interact with your peers, as well as the ability to upload projects you’re working on for feedback from your peers.

Who do I contact if I am having technical trouble with the course?

You may contact Student Support by email at support@online.berklee.edu or telephone at 1.866.BERKLEE (or 1-617-747-2146 if outside the U.S.), Monday through Friday, 9 AM – 5 PM ET. Student Support will assist you with any problems you have and will do their best to provide a response to your question or inquiry within one business day.

Are there assignments that need to be completed? Will I receive feedback on assignments?

Each workshop will include material for students to go through as well as suggested projects for students to complete. These are not required and will not be graded or receive feedback from an instructor. Students are encouraged to provide feedback to their classmates.

Will I receive a grade and/or credit at the conclusion of the Live Workshop?

No, Live Workshops are non-credit workshops. Students enrolled in these workshops will not receive college credit and will not be graded on their participation.

Do I get a certificate or letter of completion when I finish each workshop?

No, you will not be issued a certificate or letter of completion upon completion of the Live Workshops.

Can I request a transcript or proof of completion?

The Live Workshops are not part of a student’s academic record. For this reason they will not be represented on a transcript. In addition, we cannot provide proof of completion of the workshop. We can, however, provide proof of enrollment in the workshop if that is needed. Requests of this nature can be emailed to registrar@online.berklee.edu.

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