Film Production

IFNYC#017: Stephen Letnes – Film Composer

By  | 

Stephen Letnes

How to work with a composer for your indie film

Download this episode (right click and save)


Stephen Letnes Bio from


Stephen Composing for Santa’s Boot Camp

Stephen Letnes’ music journey began at the age of four, learning the violin by the Suzuki Method, hearing the notes and playing them. This method worked especially well for Stephen because he was born legally blind.

Throughout his life, alongside the piano, Stephen has always been fascinated with music for media and has over 60 credits for film and television ranging from short films and documentaries, to feature films like “Santa’s Boot Camp” (2015) directed by Ken Feinberg and “Rage In The Cage” (2016), directed by Ray Scanlon.

The Final Mixing Stage

The Final Mixing Stage

How Important is a Composer?

A composer can take a film that is good and make it great, by enhancing the emotions of the character and reflecting the tone of the film.  A good composer can add drama without making it melodramatic or overpowering your film.

Over the years I have worked on many projects, and while all of them had music and sound in them, I have surprising little experience of working directly with a composer.

The reason for that is because, many of my projects had budgets that supported hiring sound mixers and composers and those decisions were above my pay grade at the time.

Then on my indie projects, with both web series I did, I had producing partners who already had relationships with composers, so I let them navigate through that part of the production.  And on my biggest short film project so far, I had more of a sound design than a score, and I did it all myself, because that’s was just what I chose to do.


At the Love International Film Festival. Westwood, Los Angeles

So, now that I’ve got both a short film and a feature on the horizon for myself, I thought I’d put a little research into both what a composer can do for your film and how to most effectively work with that type of artist.

In my research, I really started to understand that a lot of my preconceived notions about the role of a composer were misinformed or flat out wrong.  That led me to thinking that a lot of you out there might be a little lost as well when it comes to finding, hiring and working with a composer for your next project.

Through some of the relationships I’ve made through Indie Film NYC, I was able to connect with a musician and composer, Stephen Letnes and he agreed to come on the show and talk about all aspects of working with a composer to score your film.

Submit your film to the Kew Gardens Festival of Cinema

screen-shot-2016-10-12-at-6-21-22-pmThe Kew Gardens Festival of Cinema is a non-profit organization established to support the development and help expand the audiences of independent cinema from around the globe. The Kew Gardens Festival of Cinema was founded by four local independent filmmakers with a passion to get movies made and to have those artistic voices heard. Understanding the struggle in today’s film environment in showcasing independent cinema, their aim is establish a presence and awareness of cinematic creativity throughout Kew Gardens Queens and the neighboring communities.

For more information on the festival, visit the website:

To submit your film, visit:



Stephen Letnes Website –
Stephen’s IMDb page –
Santa’s Boot Camp –

Sign up here and stay informed with what’s going on at John Fallon’s Indie Film NYC

You’ll get information on upcoming interviews, articles and special news, before it’s announced anywhere else.

* indicates required

If you prefer to watch this episode on our YouTube Channel:

You can also listen to last week’s episode on our YouTube Channel








Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *