Composer brings sound design expertise to music and cinema programs


Filipe Leitão—an award-winning Brazilian-born composer, music producer, sound designer and orchestrator—recently joined the VCUarts Department of Music as an assistant professor. He will focus on composition and sound design for cinema, games and motion media, and will also teach for the Cinema program.

In the following Q&A, Leitão talks about his experience in composition and film scoring, and what to expect in his classes this fall.

How would you describe your composition style?

Generally, my style is more orchestral. It’s a lot of work to make a digital computer score sound like an orchestra, but that’s something I really love to make.

My job is to make the music work for the film or the game or whatever the visual medium is. If a filmmaker or game producer wants something country, even though I don’t have much experience with country music, I need to learn how to do that.

Tell us about some of the films and games you’ve scored.

In one film, Grounded, I collaborated with a filmmaker in California, who was doing animation. I found the trailer online and reached out to the director and said, “I’d love to score your animation.” He told me to score the trailer and send it back, and I got the job. I did the entire score and sound for that film. The film has no dialogue from actors, so I had to communicate feelings through music.

I also did a puzzle game that was a collaboration with a guy in California. He found me online and he thought my tracks matched the mood he wanted for that game. What’s different for games is, I don’t have visuals. I’m not scoring to the picture. I’m scoring for something that could work for 10 seconds or 5 minutes.