Gautier Abadie talks about his personal development, creative inspirations

By September 14, 2022 Features, Interviews, News

Gautier Abadie talks to Dom Smith about transitioning from France to America, in order to become a film composer.

How are you today?

Not bad! Even though a bit jet-lagged, I just travelled back from New York to my hometown in the south of France.

Tell us about some career highlights?

My biggest career highlight was this summer, in Southampton, NY. I was invited to the movie set of “Dirty Rhetoric”, a feature film directed by James Evans. This movie is a 1940s period piece located in the US. As a composer for this project, I had to write a song for one of the characters prior to production, as well as a long dancing sequence.

I had to compose both scenes using only the script as reference. This was a totally new process to me. Even though this was as exciting as challenging, James Evans gave me carte blanche and fully trusted my skills from the beginning. To work with somebody that has full confidence in your experience and expertise was extremely rewarding, both humanly and professionally. The first day I arrived on set, I right away felt that this project was going to be special! This was my first time on a movie set. I’m used to receiving picture locked projects ready to be scored. James Evans and I started working together when the project was still in development. Being a part of all the different production stages of a feature film I’m scoring was for sure a mesmerizing experience.

During my time on the set, I had to conduct and coach the cast. I had to give them musical cues so that the choreography, the narrative and the musical aspect all made one. I was lucky to work and collaborate with the amazing choreographer, Liz Piccoli. She did an amazing job! Working with her taught me a lot about dance and movement. I was fortunate to work with Guillermo Cameo, the terrific cinematographer for “Dirty Rhetoric”. Watching him do his magic and having the chance to collaborate with him taught me a lot about artistic direction, light, camera movement and so much more!

How was the transition to living and working in France, to living and working in America?

The transition was quite hard when I looked back at it. I must say that when I lived through it, it seemed easier because I know that I can adapt to pretty much any situation. I arrived in New York in 2018 because I got accepted in a film scoring program at the Juilliard School. I landed in JFK and suddenly, I had to live and study here knowing that this was my first time in NYC. In the long-term, it was hard to adapt to the culture, but most importantly, the way Americans behave and talk. I was shocked to see them (apparently) happy, smiling and polite all the time. This is not at all the way things go in France. This automatically affected the way things went in school and at work. After interviewing for a few jobs and being always welcomed with a big smile, I thought I’d get the job! Little did I know! I’d say it took me a few months to adapt to this new society. Eventually, I found out about the good stuff! Americans are much more open to help each other. They’re more tolerant and friendly with one another. I never felt left behind!

What would you say your biggest challenges are, as a creative, on a day-to-day basis? 

One of my biggest challenges is keeping my routine up. The life of a film composer is highly unstable, stressful and unpredictable professionally. It’s mostly made out of deadlines, mixes, meetings, retouches, etc.

Over the years, I’ve developed a routine that keeps me healthy. Early wake up, workout, cold shower, breakfast, work, nap, work, early dinner, sleep. Maintaining this routine is challenging, mostly because I have to force myself to stop working in order to get healthy sleep and be able to last. Another big challenge is to keep believing, and never giving up! I’ve been scoring short movies for the past decade and it’s only now that I’m scoring my first feature film!

How do you define success?

To me, success rhymes with happiness. If I manage to work on projects that resonate with me artistically, and I can make a decent living, that would make me happy and would lead to success. I’m not there yet!

What would be your message to any aspiring composers? 

My message would be: Believe in yourself and never give up!

What are one or two realities that you wish you knew about the creative industries when you started out, that you know now?

I wish I knew that I’ll have to give up a lot of personal time, weekends, work hours, vacations, etc. Most film composers work from home, which makes it very hard to separate work from home and disconnect from your workflow, both physically and mentally. I wish I knew how lonely this job can be. I can spend weeks inside working on a project without going out once. This is very unhealthy, especially in the long-term.

What motivates you when you are not creating, thinking of specific people, and places? 

When I’m not creating, I love to go back to France and hike in the Pyrenees (a very beautiful chain of mountains in the south of France) and also eat good food!

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