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Bossing It: Staying Flexible with Vince Pope

Bossing It 48 Add to collection

RTS winning and BAFTA nominated composer on learning from experiences, controlled freedom and the importance of giving back to the industry

Bossing It: Staying Flexible with Vince Pope

Vince Pope is an RTS winning and BAFTA nominated composer based in central London who has made his name providing contemporary and cutting edge scores for series including No Offence, Undercover, Misfits and Black Mirror.

Having developed his interest in film whilst reading Maths at London University he left to pursue a musical career. Working on brand campaigns including Nike, BMW, Guinness, Honda, John Smiths and Walkers he won several prestigious industry awards.

LBB> What was your first experience of leadership?

Vince> I have always had to collaborate when working out a soundtrack and providing music for a project. So leadership in a way is written into what I do. Things can really change a lot when you are in that dynamic space of being in the studio and recording with musicians. It’s important to have everyone in a state where they can feel free to express themselves fully. So it’s controlled freedom in a way. I have to be able to control the final product, the final music but at the same time it's great to have the inspiration from someone who is enjoying the process and able to feel expressive. I remember doing a session for a primetime BBC1 series at Angel Studios with a 40 piece orchestra and the time pressure to get things completed in a calm and conducive atmosphere was a particular challenge, in the BBC can have quite punishing budgets.

LBB> How did you figure out what kind of leader you wanted to be – or what kind of leader you didn’t want to be?

Vince> I think initially I was probably too focused on wanting to realise exactly what I had written out on the manuscript, as opposed to being more flexible and open to suggestions. It didn’t take me long to realise I preferred it when the musicians would approach me with input - even if it was “what have you done here - I cant play it ? “

LBB> What experience or moment gave you your biggest lesson in leadership?

Vince> The biggest lesson or lessons are those times when someone comes up with a solution that is different to mine and, well, actually better. Of course then one has to be humble enough to accept that and enjoy it. (and of course take credit for it)

LBB> Did you know you always wanted to take on a leadership role? If so how did you work towards it and if not, when did you start realising that you had it in you?

Vince> No, I probably saw myself as a lone artist working away in my studio to provide an amazing piece of music or score for a particular project - it was when I started the process of collaborating, be it with a producer, director or creative that I realised I could take on a kind of leadership role, providing my expertise and experience and raising the level of things, contributing.

LBB> When it comes to 'leadership' as a skill, how much do you think is a natural part of personality, how much can be taught and learned?

Vince> I think hopefully we all learn from our experiences so it would be redundant to say that experience is not essential. But we all learn different things even from the same experience. So I guess some are innate and some are learned. The key is to stay really flexible in one's approach to working in a team. And leading that team.

LBB> What are the aspects of leadership that you find most personally challenging? And how do you work through them?

Vince> Of course probably the hardest thing is when someone or something appears that is completely at odds with one's own goals or approach. So I guess if there is a binary disagreement (which I guess shouldn’t really happen in a creative realm as it's all subjective) it's finding a way to be humble and make sure it doesn’t become insurmountable. 

LBB> Have you ever felt like you've failed whilst in charge? How did you address the issue and what did you learn from it?

Vince> I guess because of what I do and the way leadership is necessary to get the best results in the relatively high pressure environment of the recording session I have to be able to translate whatever my creative vision is - I have been able do that within the time allowed and without stifling creativity - it's a fine balance - pressure vs creativity ? Which wins out? I think in terms of that as a learning experience I guess the key is to be able to see where things could have been improved (there is always room for improvement) So it's important to ask and be able to answer questions after the event - did I need more time - did I get the right collaborators and so on.

LBB> This year has seen the industry confronted with its lack of action/progress on diversity and inclusion. As a leader how have you dealt with this?

Vince> Well as I come from a mixed background which I guess ticks the diversity box I feel that these issues are less something that I have to address. I am one of a tiny number of composers for TV and Film who is not male and white. And I actually think the industry wants to embrace change and has been struggling very hard to do that. I am a trustee with The London Music Fund which helps less well off kids into music by providing much needed financial help and support for those who otherwise couldn’t afford to study music. Helping with the cost of instruments and lessons. I have always felt it's important to try and give back wherever you are in the industry. 

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vince pope, Thu, 24 Feb 2022 13:43:40 GMT