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When Hillel Teplitzki M.M. ’19 moved to Los Angeles, he thought he was in the wrong place. “So many people had told me how scary L.A. is, how it was full of backstabbers,” he says.
But instead of a tough, terrifying place, Teplitzki found a friendly city, one that he connected with almost immediately. “I met these amazing, lovely people that I still work with,” he explains.
Teplitzki has since settled in L.A., landing a job as an assistant composer for Blizzard Entertainment, a leading video game designer that counts major titles Warcraft, Diablo, and Overwatch among its works. But it wasn’t always smooth sailing to get there.
After graduating with honors from the scoring for film, television, and video games program, Teplitzki was awarded a Berklee fellowship. He took the opportunity to move to the U.S. to work under composer Andrew Gross for a four-month internship.
Teplitzki quickly realized that L.A. was where his future lay and began making plans to stay beyond his intern visa. Through networking and communication—soft skills Teplitzki says are vital for breaking into composition—he contacted Inon Zur, the brilliant composer whose work includes video games Dragon Age and Fallout, as well as trailers for multiple Hollywood blockbusters.
Teplitzki continued to compose with Gross’s music catalog but began to build a relationship with Zur. What initially began as an informal offer of advice and industry knowledge soon became regular sessions where Teplitzki would sit in on Zur as he composed.
The sessions proved invaluable, as Zur offered Teplitzki the opportunity to become his assistant. Delighted, he accepted and returned to Israel to renew his visa.
Then, the pandemic happened.
All of a sudden, Teplitzki was stuck in Israel. “It was literally like a month or two after I left. It just put a complete halt on all visa situations and everything else,” he says.
It was a year and a half before Teplitzki could return to L.A. and revive his career. Thankfully, Zur kept the post open; when Teplitzki arrived back in the U.S., he began working closely with the acclaimed composer.
Teplitzki has always been an avid gamer, but during his time at Berklee Valencia, he thought film and television composition would be the way his career progressed. “My biggest credit was actually in film. I was nominated for Israel's version of the Oscars,” he says, speaking of his work on the acclaimed film The God of the Piano. During his internship, he also earned a credit for a Disney+ TV show.
Despite his lack of experience, Teplitzki felt comfortable making video games the focus of his career, something he attributes to Associate Professor Sergio Jiménez Lacima, and the well-rounded education he received during his master’s at Berklee Valencia.
“He was amazing. He definitely prepared me for it. By the time that I got to L.A., I definitely had more than the basics for everything. Berklee kind of forces you to research and learn things quickly.”
Teplitzki’s ability to research programs and learn new processes rapidly, both skills he learned during his time at Berklee Valencia, allowed him to adapt to the demands of video game composition. It is this adaptability, willingness to challenge himself, and his ability to learn on the job quickly that Teplitzki believes has helped him settle quickly in LA’s video game industry.
Adding to his evident passion for video games and his technical skills, Teplitzki says he felt a connection with the people he met in video game circles. This is something that Teplitzki is keen to stress to young composers looking to make the move to L.A.: building good relationships is critical to success.
“Your relationships really make the difference,” he says.
After a year of working with Zur, the opportunity arose to join Blizzard. Teplitzki still remains close with his former mentor, a testament to their relationship. “When I told Inon, he leaped out of his chair! That’s just the kind of person he is.”
As a gamer himself, Teplitzki understands the importance of music to the overall product. Before composing, he spends hours meticulously researching characters, the story of the game, and any music history that might feature in his work.
“I go deep into it to make sure that the music is unique and doesn't just sound like everything else, and really represents the characters and the world properly,” he says.
At the same time, Teplitzki has learned to balance this creative process with the demands of a deadline-driven role at a top game company. “Don't overthink things,” he says. “You will be pleasantly surprised how much the small things that bother you bother no one else.”
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