Q&A with Robert John Sedky on the importance of developing industry relationships
Starting his career as a session musician and then transitioning into film scoring, Robert John Sedky is a great example of the different and diverse career paths available in the music industry.
Born in Melbourne, Robert studied composition at Latrobe University and has worked tirelessly and passionately since his graduation. He has composed the score and sound design for Monster Media’s production of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest at the Melbourne Theatre Company (2017), the score for the Academy Accredited Beast, winner of Best Australian Short Film at Flickerfest (2017) and received his first international score nomination for the film 10 Grand at Cinefest (2018). Sedky was also the recipient of Creative Victoria’s Artist in Schools program (2016).
Earlier this year, Robert worked as the composer alongside director Michael Hudson of Ties That Bind. Praised for its ‘narrative simplicity and complex perspective on family violence’, the film was awarded The Event Cinemas Australian Short Screenplay Award at the Sydney Film Festival.
Robert also developed the score for Crossfire, a 14 minute short film set in the suburbs of Mont Albert in Victoria that follows the story of an ‘enigmatic man searching for salvation’.
Robert most recently completed his first concert work Spitfire for Orchestra commissioned by the Essendon Symphony Orchestra. The work will have its world premiere on August 24, 2019 in Malvern Town Hall.
We had the pleasure of chatting with Robert about film composition and his role at AIM.
Tell us about your role at AIM and what drew you to this professional field?
I’ve been a lecturer of film music based at AIM Melbourne since 2014. I was recommended by a colleague who thought I would be right for the position.
What is the best thing about being a teacher?
I believe that being a teacher is an important job. It is a privilege to share my experiences with the younger generation who will help shape the future of the music industry.
Tell us about your work scoring films
I was always curious about the craft of filmmaking and the art of the multi-layered storytelling. A visual craft so intrinsically linked with music. For me, a visit to the cinema was always a great form of education as well as escapism. I remember watching Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind and being completely overwhelmed by its sheer beauty and expressive power. Hearing John Williams’ score for the first time inspired me to work in film.
When it comes to your own career, what were some of the biggest breakthrough moments?
The biggest breakthrough moment that comes to mind was when Eran James and I were playing warm up gigs in lead up to a National tour supporting Sir Elton John. After the show, I got chatting to a man who had seen me play. We had a lovely conversation that soon led to our shared love of cinema, and I told him I had just completed a few short film scores. It was at this point told me he was Martin Dingle Wall, an actor producer who was looking to hire a composer for a feature film, The Nothing Men. This was the beginning of a whole new chapter in my career.
What particular skills do aspiring industry professionals need to develop?
Communication and collaborative skills - because knowing how to successfully collaborate with others is a highly important skill to have due to the very nature of the industry. In film composition, telling an impactful story is a collaborative effort that only succeeds when everyone is working together.
Make sure you celebrate the small victories - they are incredibly important and contribute to your personal growth as an artist.
Are there any interesting trends you are really excited about in the film industry?
I am really excited about film music's transition into concert halls. Film composers are being more widely accepted in the concert world, with live scores being performed by Symphony Orchestras all over the world.
What’s the best advice someone has given you?
My father once told me that ‘You never know what tomorrow will bring’.
What is your top tip for a young person starting out in the industry?
Hone your craft, stay open minded and open hearted.
Who have been your greatest mentors and why?
It would be late-Romantic composer/conductor Gustav Mahler. I admire the way he encapsulates the sounds of music’s correlation to nature. Mahler’s symphonies are glorious works of art that speak to my soul.
My favourite quote by Mahler is “A symphony must be like the world. It must contain everything.”
If you could have dinner with any musician (alive or dead) who would it be and why?
It would have to be Sir Simon Rattle, the Music Director of the London Symphony Orchestra. Putting it simply - he is a musical force of nature who I deeply admire.
Check out the trailer for 'Crossfire' below, which Robert scored;
Check out Robert's website here: https://www.robertjohnsedky.com/