Scoring in Serbia and Beyond: Ana Krstajic | Berklee Valencia Campus
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Scoring in Serbia and Beyond: Ana Krstajic

Despite her short career, Ana Krstajic M.M. ’18 recently scored her first feature film. Heroji, directed by Serbian filmmaker Goran Nikolic, tells the story of a warrior knight who survives the Battle of Kosovo in 1389. He meets a wild boy along the way and they decide to continue the journey together. But this story held a particular challenge for Krstajic: it’s a silent film.

“Due to the lack of dialogue, the music had to be more involved in a way which was exciting but scary at the same time,” Krstajic says. “We decided to create a specific colour for the score, with the choir as the lead instrument. The main role of the music was to express the inner thoughts and emotions of the characters.”

Although Heroji is her feature film debut, Krstajic had previously composed music for several short films: for example, Herostrat and Lies Have Short Legs, both 2016 releases. As lead composer for Devotion Studios, she has also composed for video games such as Hellion by Zero Gravity, and Heroic by Nordeus. “We’ve had a chance to work on several video games from Serbia. Composing for this media is quite different from film composing, as the techniques vary and the timeline is much longer and less stressful,” she says.

Deciding her Future at Berklee Valencia

Krstajic received a scholarship to Berklee’s Spain Summer Performance Program as the winner of The Best Musical Mind, an international music competition held in Belgrade, Serbia, which was organized with Berklee’s support. At the time, she was studying for a B.A. in Composition and Orchestration at the University of Arts in Belgrade. “I wasn’t sure what major I should choose,” she says. “That changed during my stay in Valencia, as I was impressed with the campus facilities and loved the atmosphere. At the end of the summer, I was awarded a partial scholarship for the master’s program, which totally changed my world.” Krstajic earned her M.M. in Berklee’s Scoring for Film, Television and Video Games program.

Krstajic says the work ethic and networking opportunities are the two main highlights from her time in Valencia. Her experience at Berklee also gave her excellent preparation for landing a job in her home country. For the last year, she has worked as an assistant composer to Nemanja Mosurović. “I got a chance to compose additional music for two series, Besa and Zmurke, which were broadcast on national television,” she says. “I got to record remotely with orchestras and soloists, but mostly, I am grateful to have learned so much from him about the scoring industry and mixing and producing the industry standard music.”

Making Professional Connections

In 2019, Krstajic was a finalist at two scoring competitions, Soundtrack_Cologne16, held in Cologne, Germany, and the Film Music Contest, held in Slovakia. “The festival in Cologne is really amazing, since they invite the most successful professionals from the industry and they organize workshops and panels related to video games, film, and TV scoring,” she says. “I had to write an original score for a short movie that they provided for us. I think it is important to apply for festivals and competitions because you never know who will listen to your music, as most of the time the jury is formed by professionals who work in the industry.”

Currently, Krstajic is scoring Kreka, a documentary about Serbian production designer Miljen Klljaković Kreka, which features Johnny Depp, Barry Levinson, and Emir Kusturica, among others. At the same time, she is composing her debut score for a contemporary ballet, which will premiere at the beginning of next year. With Devotion Studios, she is helping organize a big video game concert in January. Her plans for 2020 include further challenges like moving to Los Angeles to continue her career in the U.S., while still being professionally linked to Serbia’s music scene.