Watching good films puts Roman Falkenstein in a good mood, so when he has to compose for one, he brings that joy into his music. Recently, the Latvia-based Berklee Online student translated this emotion into music so successfully that he won the French National Film Scoring Competition’s Original Soundtrack (OST) Challenge.
The OST Challenge included more than 200 composers representing 30 countries from around the world. Pretty stiff competition, but Roman rose to the occasion, composing for comedies.
“For me as a composer, it is very important that I like the film I’m working with and these comedies were really brilliant in my opinion,” says Roman. “I enjoyed it a lot and the process of composing the soundtrack was very inspiring and pleasant.”
The 2021 OST Challenge took place during the 43rd Clermont Ferrand International Short Film Festival, at the Clermont Opera where there was a public concert, as well as a jury of professional film composers. Each participant in the OST Challenge picks one or more of four categories and must compose for string orchestra. Roman chose to score for comedy in the fiction category.
Roman has pursued many endeavors from piano and percussion to production, arranging, and composition. Before he got his start in film scoring, he studied piano at a private studio in his home of Riga, Latvia. He then went on to study percussion at the Music Academy of Riga, where he earned his bachelor’s degree and began studying classical composition under Latvian composer Romualds Kalson.
“The most inspiring thing for me is to compose music that is part of the story,” he says. “So, I decided to try writing film music.”
He struggled to find opportunities to learn film scoring in Russian, so when he came across Jack Freeman’s Film Scoring 101, with Berklee Online, he jumped at the opportunity.
“The course gave me these very necessary basics and helped me understand how they work in film music,” says Roman. “You can be good at writing symphonies, you can compose opera, but film music is completely different. This course is built very well, in a way that it gives you a clear direction on where to look for what you need.”
Roman’s current projects include scoring for the romantic short comedy, Marry Me! by Russian director Viktor Mihalev and composing music for Panda Drum, a homemade steel drum company. As he continues to work toward his goal of scoring his first feature film, he offers a couple of words that keep him grounded:
“Don’t work on films that don’t give something good to the world.”