Hi, everyone! I’m Pinar Toprak and I composed the score to a little Marvel movie called Captain Marvel. I’ve written music for film, TV, video games, and beyond! Most recently I scored DC’s Stargirl which just premiered on the DC Universe app and The CW. I’ve also composed music for the video game Fortnite, the SyFy Superman prequel series Krypton, documentaries like HBO’s McMillions about the McDonald’s Monopoly game scandal, as well as created the new main anthem for Walt Disney World’s EPCOT theme park, AND even wrote music for Christina Aguilera’s 2019 Xperience show in Las Vegas. I’m a single mom who loves sailing, is obsessed with skincare, and loves to shoot billiards in her spare time. Check out my website: https://www.pinartoprak.com/ and ASK ME ANYTHING!

Proof: https://i.redd.it/cev2eshmvty41.jpg

Comments: 362 • Responses: 31  • Date: 

etikan375 karma

Merhaba Pinar, Love your work!!

How did you make your way from istanbul all the way to where you are today?
(How did you get to work with at Hans Zimmer’s company?)

And, what would your advice be for a Turkish aspiring film composer based in istanbul with a US college diploma? :)

pinartoprak447 karma

Merhaba! :)

I moved to the US from Istanbul in 1997. It was a difficult path but in hindsight, it was rather quick. I learned English once I got here and lived in Chicago with my brother, applied to Berklee and finished in 2 years. So I moved to LA when I was 19, enrolled in a master's program in composition, got an internship at Paramount Pictures music department and then called everyone I could at (back then) Media Ventures. Eventually someone agreed to meet me. That led to an internship for someone else and about 6 months after Hans offered me a job as a programmer.

Everyone's path is different but I would say keep on writing and improving your chops in every way and try to get your foot in the door by any means necessary. Internships, scoring short films, assisting, etc. etc. Bol sans! :)

IllllIIIllIIIlIIl211 karma

In your oppion, which movie has the best soundtrack?

pinartoprak366 karma

Oh there are way too many to list but I fell in love with film music listening to John Williams and Ennio Morricone scores. Superman, ET, Cinema Paradiso, Schindler's List, way too many to list. I'm a big fan of James Newton Howard and of course Hans Zimmer as well. Also love the score for "The Red Violin" I did my master's thesis on John Corigliano.

thegutsymonk106 karma

I have so many questions! But, I’ll settle on:

How do you keep working when you feel like your creativity is tapped out?

And a bonus if you feel like answering it: Any thoughts on how to develop the right connections to become a composer’s assistant?

pinartoprak219 karma

If I feel like things are not flowing the way I'd like them to flow then I make sure to get out of the studio. I take walks, that usually helps me unwind. I cook, I do something totally different. Meditation also helps. I do Transcendental Meditation. I find that the times where I'm more regular with my meditation, I can tap into creativity more easily. And when all else fails, I just write and remind myself that nobody has to hear what I wrote, if I'm not happy with it. :) That eases things in my head... Perfectionism can be tough. One of my most favorite sayings is: What is the difference between an amateur and a professional photographer? The professional one only shows the good pictures. :) Same with music... Not everything will be great and that's a part of the process to get to where we need to get...

azeronhax97 karma

If I want to do a music career later in life, What steps should I take?

pinartoprak139 karma

Try to get as much education as possible. Not only in musicianship, composition, orchestration but also technology as well. I taught at Berklee online for many years (Film Scoring and Orchestration) and I had many students who started later in life or returned back to music later in life.) When you are feeling confident about your skillset, then assisting a composer is always a great way to begin. In the meantime, write, write and write! And build a great demo reel that you can submit to projects. There are many resources online about which films are in development, pre-production and who is looking for a composer. Write anything you can get your hands on. Stay curious and be resilient. :)

Mistake-Not75 karma

Sorry for my lack of creativity, but I always ask this when a composer does an AMA. Do you listen to modern film/tv/videogame scores in your spare time? Most of the composers I've asked say no because they are afraid it might influence their own work too much, so they tend to stick with classical music. I'm interested to know if you feel the same. Thanks!

pinartoprak100 karma

I try to stay up to date as much as possible. I listen to current scores with a different intention, more as market research. :) It's good to know what everyone is up to and how things are sounding. I tend to listen to jazz and classical music mostly.

iamthedumbest173 karma

Wowie! You are a true genius! When I watched captain marvel the music always seemed to have the right mood. Like you cosyired the escense of emotion. As a small wannabe muscician what steps would you sya to take to be able to get emotion into my music? Many thanks!

pinartoprak69 karma

Thank you! That's very kind. Emotion is a subjective concept...and can be a whole topic of discussion on its own without a short answer I'm afraid. It also depends on the filmmaker and how they want to express the story. Understanding what the scene needs beyond what's visible and what's said in the dialogue are the key, the subconscious so to speak. That's ideally what we are trying to get across. How we do that, well that changes depending on the scene and what's necessary. Sometimes it's a simple piano motive, sometimes way more massive. :)

pinartoprak52 karma

Thanks everyone for the great questions! Wishing you all the best. I hope you all stay safe, stay happy, and stay surrounded by great music! :)

gdj1150 karma

8 ball or 9 ball?

pinartoprak64 karma

8 ball

purple_kimchi29 karma

What are your skincare pro-tipps?

pinartoprak78 karma

Oh now we are talking... :) I'm obsessed with skincare. This could be long but I'll give you the short answer. I don't use anything chemical, cleansing is key and a great moisturizer! I do different kinds of masks regularly, usually in the mornings. I don't wear foundation, not much of a makeup fan on my skin. Some blush, eye makeup and lip gloss and I'm good to go. :) Then my nighttime routine takes about 20 minutes. :)

matthieuxdetoux28 karma

What were some of the film composers that inspired you growing up?

pinartoprak42 karma

John Williams, Ennio Morricone, John Barry and Jerry Goldsmith were at the top of the list growing up

ucdortbes27 karma

I think I see a Moog One off in the background in your picture. How do you like it? Do you think new synthesizers (modular, semi-modular) will be a growing part of your workflow (and of industry practices in general)?

pinartoprak27 karma

I LOVE my Moog One! I used it in Captain Marvel and other projects quite a bit. And yes, they are definitely a big part of my workflow that I intend on keeping! :)

ucdortbes23 karma

Which platforms (DAWs, plug-in suites) do you prefer to use for work?

pinartoprak58 karma

I use Cubase and I love it more than I love most people! :) I certainly look at it more than I look at anyone! :))) I run the video on Video Slave on a separate machine, I love that software. I've used it since its very first version. I also use ProTools but generally everything gets done and exported in Cubase. Some other software, plugins I like are pretty much anything but U-He, Native Instruments, VE Pro, Omnisphere, Soundtoys, Slate Digital

metican16 karma

Merhaba Pınar, what is your favorite Turkish food and which food do you recommend to those who are not familiar with Turkish cuisine?

pinartoprak32 karma

I love so many things...but the first thing I eat when I arrive in Istanbul is Iskender kebab :)

didithrowthatpaper16 karma

How did you get into sailing?

pinartoprak29 karma

I always loved the water, grew up near the sea, and spent my summers on the water growing up pretty much... I finally decided to take lessons about 5-6 years ago. Got several ASA certifications and then started crewing on races, which was the best way to learn. The joy sailing brings me is unlike anything else.

ivaclue15 karma

I just landed my first composition gig for an episodic TV show. (Mostly by luck!) What advice would you give to keeping projects coming in through the pipeline? Thank you!

pinartoprak27 karma

Congrats!!! Make sure to stay hungry and keep submitting your work to anyone who will listen and sometimes even if they won't listen, cause you never know... :) One of the biggest mistakes I made earlier in my career was to put my eggs in one basket with a project. I was so immersed in it for quite a long time and thought that project was going to be the golden key to my career that I wasn't submitting myself for anything else... The project, in the end, didn't work out and I was unemployed and broke for quite some time. It taught me a great lesson. Always behave as though you are unemployed! :)

omeganaut13 karma

Are you a wizard?

pinartoprak25 karma

you'll never know...

barista200010 karma

Do you have a Masterclass or any other online classes available for purchase or subscription?

pinartoprak20 karma

Not yet... ;)

mmcomposer10 karma

Hey, love your work :) As a composer of several film myself I'm wondering what is, in your experience, directors, producers, filmmakers etc. looking for in a composer. And how do I stand out in the crowd of aspiring film composers? Thank you :)

pinartoprak10 karma

It really varies and if I found the magical one size fits all answer, I would hold the most magical key in this town! :) But nothing makes more impact than passion. When you are passionate to be a part of a project for the right reasons, that's infectious and the filmmakers feel that. if you are genuinely excited about something, everything you do will reflect that.

OverMarzipan8 karma

If you were stuck with only six instruments to compose music for, which four would you choose?

pinartoprak23 karma

I'm assuming I can't cheat and say computer for one of those? :) If not then, I would say string quartet + piano + voice

Compshu8 karma

Was it intimidating, or how did it feel, knowing that you were writing the replacement to the beloved Illuminations show at EPCOT?

pinartoprak13 karma

Epcot has an incredibly special place in my heart. It's one of the first places I've visited when I moved to the US at the age of 17 and that feeling has stayed with me for decades. It was/is truly one of the biggest honors of my life to write the theme for Epcot.

ill-esha7 karma

Omg i have a million questions, i wish i could have coffee with you. So much respect but to keep it short - i am also an occasional composer, I'm a professor at Berklee as well but in electronic music production, and took up skincare recently as a new hobby. I look up to you! I love your work and have been so inspired to see what you've achieved inside the old "boys club"

I guess my main one would be if you think that in this day and age, you can truly get involved in a career as a film composer without living in LA.

I moved away from my home of Vancouver, which was probably dumb, but was unhappy there, and focused more on my touring career but have always loved scoring so much and wondering if there are any non-in person avenues to connect and get into the circuit at the same level.

I saw that you mentioned online resources listing composer jobs -do you think that people actually hire from these? Isn't it still just a network of favors and connections?

Thank you for giving your time and I'd also be interested to see your skincare regime

AND know some of your favorite libraries and plugins


pinartoprak12 karma

I've always wanted to visit Vancouver! One day soon I hope! :) This is a great question... and a question that I would answer quite differently if you asked me last year. I would have said that you have to be in LA. But that could be changing soon with everything going on... Most of the people that work with me and for me work out of their own studios. With the current situation aside, in general I would say out of sight, out of mind. Absence definitely doesn't make the heart grow fonder in this business. :) So however you can be present and get your work to people, I would suggest you do that. I built my career basically with online resources. I used to get listings of projects in development and various phases of production and send my music to whoever I could get a hold of. Granted, a lot of this was unsolicited and probably never listened but it's all about increasing your odds. If you don't buy the lottery ticket, you will not win anything. :) And about being in LA, I used to say, if you want to go fishing, you need to be where the fish are. But like I said, who knows what that reality will be in the near future. Best of luck to you!

heterotard7 karma

Should pineapple go on pizza?

pinartoprak16 karma

Not my thing but whatever makes you happy. :) I eat weird combinations of stuff all the time. Who is to judge. It all goes to the same place! lol

KiranSD7 karma

Were you a big comics fan or did you accident into the job? If accident are you one now?

pinartoprak12 karma

Comics fan since early childhood. Especially Superman.

etikan5 karma

Do you usually approach movies scene by scene or start out by creating themes for certain characters, places?

pinartoprak10 karma

I usually write suites. It helps everyone get on board with themes and the overall sound palette. For Captain Marvel I wrote 3 suites (one each for Carol, the kree and the skrulls). It helps with brainstorming and creating without the confinements of a scene so I find myself thinking more creatively when I start out this way.

TilmitderBrill5 karma

Awesome work on all the movies and games :)

Is it hard for you to calm down after your workday is done? (switching from Work mode into freetime mode) And how do you cope with stressy deadlines?

pinartoprak10 karma

One day at a time... one cue at a time... :) I try to focus on the task(s) I have to do that day and try to do my best each day. That's the best we all can do, to be honest. When you look at the entire mountain, it can get overwhelming. Meditation is key for me during stressful times. I do something called transcendental meditation. It really allows me to deal with life and unexpected curveballs with better shock absorbency. :) I also love taking walks outside, that really calms me. I always end my day with reading in bed. I've done that for years so my brain automatically shuts things off as soon as I pick up a book. And if I'm able to get out of the studio for a longer period of time, then sailing calms me down like nothing else.

FlashCarpet5 karma

Hiya Pinar! I love superhero themes, specially when they capture the theme of the hero so well! I liked how Captain Marvel sounded like a proper super hero theme mixed with a bit of Star Trek-y space exploration vibe.

So my question is, what were the most exciting and most challenging parts of making a superhero theme?

pinartoprak11 karma

Thanks! Ideally something easily identifiable and singable. When I write themes, I sing or play it to my kids. Then I ask them to sing it back to me the next day. If they still remember it, I know it's memorable. :)

Nuit0134 karma

Hi! Love the Captain Marvel soundtrack!

If you could go back in time and steal another composer’s job, which movie would you like to write the score for?

pinartoprak6 karma


I don't look back! :) They were all done the way they were done for a reason and they can all be great teachers.

ImTheGodOfAdvice3 karma

Any funny stories from doing these?

pinartoprak5 karma

always... I can't get through life without humor. :)

Dux-El522 karma

What is your favourite food?

pinartoprak5 karma

That's a tough one... I love food. :) I'm always super happy with pasta and sushi. I also love Thai food and of course I'm partial to Turkish food. ;)

pinartoprak9 karma

But no meal is complete without a dessert. I don't trust people who don't like sweets! I feel like there is a pleasure receptor missing if they don't eat anything sweet! :)

JuliusMuc2 karma

First of all, I have to admit I don't know much of your stuff. The only soundtrack of you I know is Captain Marvel. I listen to it literally every day (I love film scores).

My question: How did you get this job on on of the most successful films of 2019? What did you have to say or what did you do that let them think "that is out composer"?

pinartoprak14 karma

I wrote a demo for Captain Marvel. Hired a 70 piece orchestra, conducted it myself, and sent them the video. I wanted them to get a feel for who I was and how badly I wanted it and I think they felt that passion and excitement come across, for which I'm very grateful.