How does a Mesa native and a fairly newlywed Latter-day Saint dad of two young children break in to the world of music for Hollywood television shows and films?
It takes some doing—along with a huge measure of talent, and a high-profile award doesn’t hurt either.
Nate Fenwick Smith, son of Denise and Kevin Fenwick Smith, graduated from Skyline High School, completed a bachelors’ degree from Arizona State University, then transferred to University of North Carolina School of the Arts, where he earned a masters’ of fine arts in Film Music Composition in May 2014.
Now, Nate, his wife, Sarah, and their two children, ages three and three months old, live in San Tan Valley where they are members of the Desert Hills Ward, San Tan Valley Stake.
Nate has composed scores for several indie films, commercials, trailers and video games, as well as music for a number of TV shows, including the current season of ABC’s The Bachelor and The Bachelorette.
In 2014, he was a finalist in the USA Songwriting Competition, the leading international songwriting event. This year, he received two Emmy nominations for scores in two short films he worked on during grad school. One of those, “The Collection,” was the top pick, winning the 2015 Television Academy Foundation award for Best Music Composition.
It was after a short stint in Los Angeles, where he learned a few tricks of the trade, that Nate moved his family back to Arizona where he works as a freelance composer.
“We realized LA isn’t where we would like to be fulltime,” Nate said. “We moved back, and I’m still working in the industry remotely as a ghostwriter.”
“Every project has one main composer, and behind every composer are several others who write for them,” he explains. He admits it’s a competitive industry and, to survive, the process is to “get my name on as many things as possible, to keep getting music on TV shows as a ghostwriter and to keep circulating and generating income from backend royalties.”
That all works great, for now. But, Nate has his sights on something more.
“Our goal is to not have to move back to LA. If we can keep making it work, we like being here around family.” In addition, he says, “While you can make a pretty substantial living as a ghostwriter, I would like to set my sights above that, to work up the ladder and to do something bigger.”
Interestingly, however, though he’s performed with several rock bands, his idea of “bigger” doesn’t’ include the spotlight. “As a songwriter and performer, the music is all about you. As a composer, you support what is happening on the screen. What you create should not be noticed or heard, but felt.”
Nate and Sarah have operated on faith and trust to this point. “No decision was made that wasn’t made on our knees,” Nate says.
Still, he knows more decisions lie ahead. “I want my music to only be part of films I would be comfortable showing my son,” Nate says. “It’s tricky sometimes. I don’t want to burn bridges, but I have earned some respect from saying, ‘This is not a film I necessarily want to be a part of.’”
“I have faith the Lord will bless me as I discern which projects to take on,” he adds.
Learn more about Nate Fenwick Smith and his music at www.fenwickmusicproductions.com.