Programme: Composition for Screen - MSc

Year: 2014

Following a successful career as a pop music singer-songwriter and composer for theatre and TV, Aleksandra's aspiration to become a film composer led her to relocate from Serbia to study at Edinburgh College of Art.

After graduation and a role as one of X Factor Adria's season 2 judges, Aleksandra achieved her goal and has now scored two features as well as multiple television shows. Read on to find out about her fascinating journey.

Tell us about your time at ECA

After a fruitful career of twenty years as a pop music singer-songwriter and composer for theatre and TV, I wanted to develop further as a film composer. As with anything else in life, I knew that to get to the top, I needed to be the best I can be and acquire all the knowledge and skills which would take me there. After diligent research, I decided to study Composition for Screen at ECA.

I remember our first class with Programme Director Yati Durant where I met my fellow students - all much younger than me. Yati asked us to say a few words that defined us as musicians. An uneasy silence followed and being the "mature" student, I broke the ice. I introduced myself and went through the most important moments of my career, mentioning that I was the first Serbian artist to get the MTV award and that I was especially proud of my work in the national campaign against child abuse. After I concluded my presentation, the student sitting next to me (a talented composer named Athos) smiled, shrugged his shoulders and said: "Right, Athos, try and top that!" We all started laughing, and that was the beginning of a wonderful year of friendship, collaborations, inspiration and creativity.

I loved attending classes, learning everything I could from the brilliant professors and lecturers and the opportunities to collaborate with talented artists from different areas of film. My fellow students became my family, the critics of my work, and my inspiration. It was a time of constant writing and composing, challenging myself and crossing the border into uncharted territory. And it worked. I came out of that year a different person, one that learned a lot, not only about film composition but also more importantly, about herself.


"My fellow students became my family, the critics of my work, and my inspiration. It was a time of constant writing and composing, challenging myself and crossing the border into uncharted territory."

Aleksandra Kovač, 2014 Composition for Screen alumna

Tell us about your experiences since leaving

The year I came back from Edinburgh, I was determined to immediately start working on presenting myself to professionals in the Serbian film industry. However, instead of getting a job as a film composer, I was asked to become a judge on the X-Factor Adria. Of course, I accepted, but at the same time, I was disappointed that people were still seeing me as a singer-songwriter and music producer - I was eager to show everyone my new composition skills.

Then one day, I learned that a good friend of mine (a famous Serbian actor) was starring in the new thriller TV series directed by the Hollywood-based Serbian director, Predrag Antonijević. My friend told me that the producers had a couple of film composers in mind, but that no one had come up with material they liked. I took my chance, had a meeting with all of the producers and the director, and offered to score a couple of scenes and a complex action sequence. I was frantic, my mind was buzzing with melodies and harmonies and I spent three days locked up in my studio working relentlessly on the material. Just after I recorded the last note, I came up with the opening title theme, organized a small string section, did the orchestration and recorded the minute and a half piece in just a matter of hours. It was such an exhilarating experience that I didn't care if I got the job. I knew that I was ready and that I made a good decision learning about film composition at the University of Edinburgh. I got the job, and now I'm on my fourth season of this incredible TV show, as well as working on two motion pictures and two other TV series that were extremely successful. One of the films "Stitches" won an award at the 2019 Berlin International Film Festival.

I'm about to embark on a fantastic new journey of composing the score for the first Serbian silent film. A project for which I was commissioned by the Yugoslav Film Archive Museum for 2020. I will be scoring the new World War II drama about one of the largest concentration camps in Europe, Jasenovac, where the Ustaša regime killed thousands of Serbs, Jewish, and Roma people. This year, two more TV series await and I'm excited about my future in the film music industry, as I make my way to the top.

 

Alumni wisdom

Take every chance in your life to learn.

Challenge everything, but most of all yourself.

Always leave time to unwind and take care of yourself.


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