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Berklee Valencia students are encouraged to network with their instructors and classmates during their studies and after graduation. For Aida Ten M.M. ’22 and Carolina Fontecha M.M. ’22, recent graduates of the Master of Music in scoring for film, television, and video games program, it was one such connection that helped them land their first professional film scoring gig sooner than they had expected.
Right after graduation, they started working as the composers of De perdidos a Río, a new adventure comedy film directed by Joaquin Mazón, with associate professor Vicente Ortiz Gimeno. Ortiz Gimeno, the film’s music producer, was looking for a dynamic duo to compose the score within two months.“ Both Ten and Fontecha were really great students and really responsible, hard working,” he said. “Very creative as well.”
Ortiz Gimeno, the film’s music producer, needed a dynamic duo to compose the score within two months, and he knew Ten and Fontecha were the perfect pair for the task. “They were really great students and really responsible, hard working,” he said. “Very creative as well.”
With Ortiz Gimeno’s help, Fontecha and Ten took the opportunity head on, leveraging their deep friendship, open communication style, and similar jazz backgrounds to compose 50 minutes of music with poise, professionalism, and speed. Not only were they excellent collaborators, but as native Spanish speakers they were able to understand the linguistic and cultural intricacies embedded within the screenplay.
This opportunity for Ten and Fontecha to work in sync was a year-in-the-making, as their studies aligned almost perfectly during the master’s program. They were assigned to the same classes and signed up for many of the same extracurricular projects, including short films and assignments with East Connection Music Recording’s Budapest Art Orchestra.
They also learned a lot of the same skills, from creating a mockup and submitting it to the director to editing recordings, which were important for producing the small-budget film. “We had to work on every single step of the production of the music,” Fontecha said. “That was really interesting, and I think we [were able to do it] because of all the knowledge that we learned from Berklee.”
Ten called the experience “a master’s of the master’s” because it felt like they were completing an accelerated master’s program. They were learning on the job how to apply the skills they learned in their technology, narrative analysis, conducting, and mixing courses, and they were doing so at breakneck speed.
There was no time to think, only time to create, so when they had an idea, they ran with it. Staying organized by dividing major deadlines into daily ones was key to completing their work on deadline.
They each took responsibility for scenes based on the music styles they were adept in, which was necessary for a film with a hodgepodge of scene types. Ten composed the music for suspenseful scenes, while Fontecha was responsible for the romantic scenes.
They did this while blindly trusting each other. Though Ortiz Gimeno and Mazón provided them with a temporary track for reference, Fontecha and Ten would often not know what to create next.
“At some point, if I was doing something and I was stuck, I could say to [Fontecha], ‘Hey, can you finish this? I’m sending it to you, I trust 100 percent everything you’re going to do with it, and I won’t get mad if you change something,’ and she did the same with me,” Ten explained.
The whirlwind two months were thrilling yet exhausting. They spent several days working with many musicians in full bands and string and brass orchestras to keep the music lighthearted, entertaining, and consistent with Mazón and Ortiz Gimeno’s vision. Fontecha honed her skills of creating mockups with virtual instruments, and they both overcame their fears of presenting their work to a director. They learned how to put their egos aside, accept feedback, rewrite music when necessary, and even learned how to compose catchy disco music.
After finishing their work—and creating the final mix with mixing engineer and Berklee Valencia faculty member Pablo Schuller—Fontecha and Ten could finally admire their completed project.
“The day we heard our music played by human beings and sounding incredible because Pablo is so amazing, I was like, ‘Oh my god, we did it,’” Ten said. “For me, that’s the thing that I’m never going to forget.”
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