Pru Montin

Pru Montin

Pru Montin

  • Year completed 2009
  • Current position Australian-LA based composer and sound designer
  • Degree(s) Bachelor of Music
  • Major(s) History

Career summary

Pru Montin completed a Bachelor of Music and a Bachelor of Arts (majoring in History) at Monash University in 2009. In 2012, she received significant funding from the Australian Film Television and Radio School to develop a full-size interactive music game, myOrchestra. After receiving the prestigious Brian May Scholarship in 2016, which supports a promising young Australian film composer to complete a Master of Film Scoring at NYU, she moved to the US to forward her career. Now based in Los Angeles and working as a sound designer and composer, Pru has collaborated with Hollywood composers and directors to produce film music which has been screened internationally, including the award-winning black comedy Heck! at Cannes and Palm Springs. Her music can also be heard on the Australian ABC shows Dream Gardens, Club Arak, Freeform's Siren and soon to be released - the indie feature Moon Rock for Monday.

Through her originality, she has been featured as a "Composer to Watch" by ASCAP and awarded the coveted biannual APRA AMCOS Professional Development Award for Film and Television in 2019.

Career pathway

2019 – Awarded the coveted biannual APRA AMCOS Professional Development Award for Film and Television
2019 – Johnny Dennis Music Award Winner
2018 – Moved to L.A California
2016 – Recipient of the prestigious Brian May Scholarship and moved to New York to commence a Masters of Film Scoring at NYU (New York University)
2015 – Recipient of The Sorel Organisation Women in Music Scholarship to participate in the 2015 NYU/ASCAP Film Scoring Workshop (New York University)
2015 – Featured on ASCAP Composers to Watch List 
2012 – Master of Screen Arts (Screen Music and Interactive Design (AFTRS)
2010 – Graduate Diploma of Screen Music (AFTRS)
2009 – Bachelor of Music / Bachelor of Arts (majoring in History)

Why did you choose to study a Bachelor of Music and Bachelor of Arts at Monash?

One of the biggest draw cards for me was that the Bachelor of Music at Monash is extremely comprehensive. At the time, Monash was the only university that had a jazz component to its music degree and I am a trumpet player. However, the degree also allowed for the study of classical music, music composition, electronic computer music and much more. I also learnt Indonesian at high school, and Monash has one of the best ethnomusicology departments which allowed me to study the gamelan.

I was also attracted to Monash because of the Arts program. I majored in history, but I specialised in everything related to film, which was really incredible. It was like doing a film degree through the Arts department. Monash has always promoted that it is a university that does things differently and prioritises innovation. I felt like I needed to be there, especially because of the career I wanted to pursue.

What does your career as a composer and sound designer involve?

My most recent work was on a feature film where I was the lead composer. I had six weeks to score an entire film from start to finish. This includes original songs, as well as the background music which emphasise the emotion and narrative arc within the film. My goal is to try and tell an authentic story through the music that I compose, record, edit and produce.

Before I was a solo lead composer, I would work as an assistant for other people. I collaborated and assisted Hollywood composers such as Cliff Martinez (The Neon DemonDrive), Adam Peters (Icarus, Snowden), Michael A Levine (Cold Case, Siren) and Andrew Hewitt (The DoubleVillains).

I also teach at the Summer Film Music course at Monash, guest lecture at Box Hill Institute and have taught at the Australian Film Television and Radio School (AFTRS).

How did your double degree give you the skills to forward your career?

I was invited to Hollywood for doing something that I did for years at Monash. In my first year at university, I learnt how to make computer generated music, which is now what gets me invitations to work on major movies. Being able to do this obscure computer programming is common in music, but not in the film world.

Although I am a triplet, and standing out is a part of my nature, Monash gave me the skills to try new things. In my career, I combine the worlds of computer programming and sampling to film, which traditionally were never allowed to coexist. This unique style is something that I learnt during my time at Monash.

Would you be where you are without studying at Monash?

In the film industry, many people believe that music can be learnt through an apprenticeship. But without my time at Monash, I wouldn’t have the knowledge or skills to progress. I would be merely regurgitating what someone else has already done.

I am a huge supporter of doing as much study as possible because it helps you to become a critical thinker, and it gives you the ability to be experimental when others are all doing the same thing.

I also learnt to philosophise and think more deeply about my audience. For example, in my first semester at university I studied The Death of the Author by Roland Barthes, and it blew my mind. I’ve gained three postgraduate qualifications since leaving Monash, and I haven’t come across that level of critical thinking anywhere else. At Monash, everything is questioned, which is incredible to me as both as a educator and creator of art.

Do you have any advice for students who want to pursue a career in music and film?

My advice is that people value authenticity and honesty. Being authentic means you can carve out a space for yourself. I never predicted that I would be in Hollywood using sampling and computers to make music, but because I was innovative and true to myself it has gotten me further than if I was just copying what everyone else was already doing.

I would also advise that you must be open to opportunities and try to make the most of them when they do appear. I have been lucky enough to have some amazing opportunities which have helped my career, and I would not be in the position I am in if I didn’t accept them.

Written by Arts Journalism intern, Georgie Kibel, 2020