Michael Smith

Film + TV Composer

4 Reviews
Michael Smith on SoundBetter

Michael Smith is an award winning composer for TV & film, Music Director and keyboardist. A key associate and long-term collaborator both for live work and film scores with Damon Albarn. Musical Director and keyboardist for Gorillaz; Blur, and The Good, the Bad & the Queen.

Michael has 35 years of professional musical experience as a performing instrumentalist and as a composer, arranger and orchestrator in film and television.

Michael's compositional style mixes classical instrumentation with contemporary synthesis and a sound knowledge of orchestration.

Michael has a constant desire to keep expanding his sound palette and to continue to use traditional instrumentation with contemporary sounds.

His compositional work has an emphasis on emotion and emotive themes. At times, a delicate and minimalistic approach reveals itself in his music. His emphasis is to convey emotion and a strong sense of melody in his writing.

Michael is not shy to express a depth of musical palette, be it classical orchestration in a cinematic drama context or pure electronic soundscapes reflective of German Electronica from the 70s and 80s.

Some of his works / projects as a composer include:

The Kid Who Would Be King (2018)
20th Century Fox
Director: Joe Cornish

Broken (2012)
Cuba Pictures/BBC Films
Director: Rufus Norris

8 Minutes Idle (2012)
Director: Mark Simon Hewis

The Exchange (2019)
Director Dan Mazer

Easy Virtue (2008)
Director: Stephan Elliot

Last Stop Coney Island. The Life & Photography of Harold Feinstein (2019)
Director: Andy Dunn

Betrayal (2019)
Director: Scott Calonico

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4 Reviews

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  1. Review by Mark Simon Hewis
    by Mark Simon Hewis

    I was lucky enough to have Mike compose the score for my BBC and BFI feature. He had to respond to a pretty specific and non-traditional use of music to help drive the narrative. He responded to it with amazing work that fitted the brief, the narrative, and the emotions of each section perfectly. And even though I was probably quite frustrating with my specificity, Mike managed to guide my very loose nuggets of ideas and make them far more tangible and exquisite than I could have ever imagined. His use of non-traditional instrumentation was my highlight. I hope I can work with Mike again!

  2. Review by Andy Dunn
    by Andy Dunn

    Working with Mike is a joy. He's a serious musician and arranger, but also a sensitive and supportive collaborator. Mike combines his wealth of experience playing live at the highest level with a gentler, quieter love arranging orchestral instruments and a passion for movies.

    Films are about people, places and stories, and writing music for film requires emotional intelligence as well as musical skill - Mike has all this in spades.

    I look forward to working with him again soon.

  3. Review by Scott C.

    Met Mike up at Sundance 2019 randomly. We had a great chat before I even knew he was a musican. He expressed great interest in latest spy story project I was working on and the next thing I knew we were collaborating. I had temped in some ambient/synthwave-y tracks on my latest documentary short, "Betrayal" and, right from the start, Mike knew exactly the sound that I was looking for. We even were able to work through the pandemic to complete the score for our onine premiere with Tribeca Film Fest.

    Now we're working with Mike on the feature length version of the documentary.

  4. Review by Tim whitby
    by Tim whitby

    Working with Mike was a pleasure and a success. The two short films ‘The Running of the Deer and ‘The Walkers’ we made together were silent and the music was therefore an absolutely crucial part of the storytelling. He has very strong ideas but is also a sensitive collaborator; which makes him an ideal screen composer. His skill and versatility as a musician meant that we could very quickly try different things and experiment to picture in the edit. We worked together on assemblies as well as the final picture. It was fun. And it was on time. The two films were very different tonally and Mi

Interview with Michael Smith

  1. Q: Which artist would you like to work with and why?

  2. A: Alexander Desalt - to shadow him as he works his way through composing a film score.

  3. Q: Tell us about a project you worked on you are especially proud of and why. What was your role?

  4. A: I am the Musical Director of Gorillaz live. We did an amazing tour last year and I worked really hard on helping those amazing musicians to be happy and to perform to the best of their ability. It's a wonderful family and Im proud to be part of it.

  5. Q: What are you working on at the moment?

  6. A: A documentary film about a defecting East German spy

  7. Q: Is there anyone on SoundBetter you know and would recommend to your clients?

  8. A: Not currently.

  9. Q: Analog or digital and why?

  10. A: Both - Analog for warmth and authenticity and Digital for all its advantages.

  11. Q: What's your 'promise' to your clients?

  12. A: deliver on time work to the brief and will always be on the end of the phone.

  13. Q: What do you like most about your job?

  14. A: That I get to make music! In all its forms!

  15. Q: What questions do customers most commonly ask you? What's your answer?

  16. A: do you have a studio? I say - yes, I have a studio

  17. Q: What's the biggest misconception about what you do?

  18. A: nothing

  19. Q: What questions do you ask prospective clients?

  20. A: what are you looking for?

  21. Q: What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?

  22. A: be honest and tell me what you REALLY think

  23. Q: If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?

  24. A: saxophone, piano, laptop, microphone, and some cables!

  25. Q: What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?

  26. A: 35 years. Music college, post grad, years of session playing and arranging breaking into film and TV around 20 years ago

  27. Q: How would you describe your style?

  28. A: melodic, soulful, characterful, musical and authentic

  29. Q: Can you share one music production tip?

  30. A: try and keep your sound as natural as possible and don't over egg the musical pudding

  31. Q: What type of music do you usually work on?

  32. A: A mix of orchestral and electronic. (Not EDM or dance music)

  33. Q: What's your strongest skill?

  34. A: How difficult is that to answer? Im pretty quick at turning around project if need be. I work bloody hard.

  35. Q: What do you bring to a song?

  36. A: Im not a songwriter per se

  37. Q: What's your typical work process?

  38. A: Create a playlist and musical palette of instruments, begin sketching ideas, formulate a pattern of sound, work on themes, regular conversations with the director/client. Then begin re writing! Im never afraid of discarding ideas and using for later.

  39. Q: Tell us about your studio setup.

  40. A: Logic Pro, Arturia, Mac Studio M2 Max, UAD plugs, Roland, Shure SM78, KRK

  41. Q: What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?

  42. A: Alexander Desplat, Ennio Morricone, Brian Eno, Kraftwerk, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Claus Ogerman

  43. Q: Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.

  44. A: Documentary and film score writing. I also act as a Musical Director setting up live projects for touring.


Terms Of Service

Agreed price and 50% payment on booking, balance within 7 days of delivery of project. Important for pitch and engagement requirements to be clear and for delivery timeline to be outlined.

GenresSounds Like
  • Carter Burwell
  • Alexandre Desplat
  • Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein
Gear Highlights
  • Logic X
  • Sibelius 8
  • UAD
  • Mac Studio
  • Roland
  • Sure
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