Career Corner

Thomas Hambleton is a Film and Video Composer for Undertone Music Inc. However, in 1985, when he graduated from Lawrence as a philosophy major, he contemplated going to grad school. Realizing that grad school was not for him and that his education at Lawrence did provide him with “enough of a broad education and a specific education in music,” he decided to pursue his passion in music. Tom, however, never received any formal training for his career as a film and video composer. Explaining he states: “The only formal training for what I did was at Lawrence (and a little outside of Lawrence in high school, summers while attending Lawrence, and private lessons shortly after graduating.) I also read a lot of books, reviewed my books and notes that I got at LU, went to a lot of movies and asked people a lot of questions.” Tom stressed the importance of networking. He attributes much of his early success to forming relationships with people in the film and music business who then offered him his first jobs and introduced him to others in the industry, allowing him to form contacts from which to get work. He states: “While at LU I started long time friendships with two people who were film makers [they helped him get started] and my first jobs were with LU grads (friends) who hired me to write music for them. Then, through the wife of one of them, I got another film gig, and some corporate and commercial work.” Ultimately, Tom used his contacts to develop his career path and so learned his craft by doing it.

When asked “What made you choose this career?” Mr. Hambleton stated that he “always loved film and music”; they give him a feeling inside that nothing else can rival. Furthermore, Tom enjoys the sheer variety of interesting projects that his job affords him.

“I have arranged big band pieces, produced a classical guitar c.d., produced children’s music, club music, two rock records and a folk record. I have written traditional Chinese music for the Nature Conservancy’s efforts to save an area of China; written avant garde string arrangements for independent film; and adapted opera to a dance performance. I also do a lot of audio work ranging from producing tour stops for the Minneapolis Institute of Art; produced nature and soundscape c.d.’s; created a sound design for a world renowned nature photographer; to currently doing sound design for an art film in Holland (for which I hired another LU grad.) ALL of which is interesting and the scope of which is challenging and keeps me fresh. And …the fact that I get paid to play and do what I love to do, not what I have to do makes me love my job even more.”

Tom asserts that the challenge in his field is to remain competitive while making a living at it. He notes that “MANY people want to be in my position. And many people will do work for very little money or nothing, just to break into the biz. Breaking in is very tough.” He advises those trying to break in to “work extremely hard; pay attention; keep your mind open; know what you want; and be persistent for many years” as this business is extremely demanding.

Written by
Roshal Erskine
Career Assistant