A Lesson from Composer Harry Gregson-Williams



I recently watched an interview with the composer Harry Gregson-Williams who has created music for the films Prince of Egypt, Narnia, Kingdom under Heaven, Man on Fire, and the recent film The Martian. At one point in the video Harry is asked the question, “You conduct your own scores, why is that?” Harry’s response captivated my attention and I hope it will do the same for you. Take a quick moment to watch the interview starting from 11:05 - 12:29:



What I love about Harry’s response to the question is that it struck me at the core of who I want to be in other creatives’ lives. I love the distinction between keeping the musicians on track and making sure they hit the downbeat, compared to making eye contact, and helping draw out the performance inside each person.


I believe too often we approach other creatives in collaborative environments with that instructor mindset. We feel the responsibility to keep everyone on “track” and make sure they hit that downbeat. Rather I believe we should treat people with the respect that they are capable of keeping track of their own responsibilities, and our role is to look them in the eye, and see who they are, and help guide them, while drawing out the best performance they could give.


When I am micromanaged, and belittled, I don’t give thought to how I can exceed expectations, let alone create my best work, all because I’m too busy trying not to forget to hit that downbeat.


Let’s stop feeling threatened by each other, and stop trying to manage our abilities. Let’s start looking each other in the eye as creatives who care about the person first, and out of that desire to truly see them, we can usher forth the performance they themselves didn’t know waited patiently inside them.

That’s who I want to be.

Colorist CreativeComment