Shie (rhymes with ‘sky’) escaped to LA when he was only 23 and has been working as a composer and music editor ever since. I first encountered him online giving some excellent advice on the practice of adding metadata to audio tracks. Shie has worked on major blockbuster films including Avengers: Age Of Ultron and 2 Fast 2 Furious.
Where did you move from? How old were you when you moved to Los Angeles?
I’m originally from Israel. I first moved to Boston where I lived for a couple of years while earning my BM in film scoring from Berklee College of Music. As soon as I graduated I moved to LA.
Do you feel like you were guided to move here? If so, what did that look like?
Sort of. I was a late bloomer when it comes to taking music seriously. I had been playing with synths and sequencing and making music since I was a kid, but I didn’t get serious about it until I was 21. I was nearing the end of my three year military service (mandatory in Israel) and was trying to figure out what to do with my life and realized I am a composer, so I’d better get an education and learn how to do it properly. Initially I thought I’d be a singer/songwriter, but I quickly realized that wouldn’t work because I’m a mediocre songwriter at best, not a very good singer and have terrible stage fright. After taking my first orchestration class I was hooked, so I decided a career as court composer for some archduke would be great. Only problem was that I was about 200 years late to that game, so I tried to figure out how I could work with orchestras and realized film music is the most direct and practical way to go about it. Once I got into film scoring I was hooked and knew that’s what I wanted to do, and LA is the best place to be for that.
How many years did it take until you felt you were “successful?”
How does one define success? For the purposes of what I think you probably mean, I’ll define success as being able to make a living 100% from music. I was very lucky and found full time work within weeks of coming to Los Angeles and while I didn’t earn much at all, it was enough to survive solely on music. So by that definition, I was successful in a matter of weeks. Though two years later, I went freelance and have had many times where I had to do other things to make ends meet, though I’ve been doing nothing but music for 15 years. So I guess you could say [it was] four years before I never had to do anything non-music to earn a buck. However all these years later, I still feel like I have a long way to go.
What was your breakthrough?
My first “big break” was getting hired as assistant music editor on Training Day. Thank you Richard Ford for hiring me, and thank you Angie Rubin and Virginia Ellsworth for the connection!
What do you love most about Los Angeles?
It’s where I met my wife and built a family. But professionally, I’d say going to studio lots. I still feel like I have to pinch myself whenever I’m at WB or Universal or any of the other lots – they’re magical places. Working with incredibly creative people, many of whom are also my friends. The weather doesn’t suck either!
What did you move here to do? Who did you move here to become? Are you still doing / being this?
Initially, I wasn’t sure. I knew I wanted to compose and music edit but I was also interested in orchestration, conducting, arranging, music supervision and music preparation. I wanted to know how to do everything that related to film music. Within a couple of years I realized my passions are composing and music editing, and those are my primary sources of income. So yes, I’m very fortunate that I am doing what I came here to do.
What advice would you give to someone who is considering a move to Los Angeles?
First, I’d ask them a question: Can you imagine yourself doing anything else and being perfectly happy? If the answer were yes, I’d say go do that for a living. If you’re not the kind of person who simply cannot imagine doing anything else, you probably don’t belong in this business. Next, I’d ask how she/he feels about the word “no.” If they have a problem with it, I’d encourage them to get very used to hearing it often and repeatedly and not let it get them down. No doesn’t actually mean no. It just means not right now in this particular circumstance. You have to have a thick skin, not take things personally and just keep moving forward no matter what.
Shie’s website is shierozow.com. He’s got some very useful tips on his blog page.