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Jon Hamer

(MA, University of Bristol)



Behind The Music



Jon Hamer is a versatile composer with an MA in Film and TV Composition and has worked on award-winning short-films, with BBC directors and Submotion Pictures. When writing he draws on his love and study of composers such as Trent Reznor, Max Richter, Thomas Newman, Jerry Goldsmith, Harry Gregson Williams and Alexandre Desplat. He combines his talent with multiple instruments, expertise in studio production and skill at orchestral writing to create fresh, unique sounding scores. 



- 'Sylvia' - short film by Submotion Pictures, directed by Richard Pendergrast.

- 'Drills of Afi Mountain' - short wildlife documentary directed by Tom Richards.
- 'A Mouse Leaves Home' - short film by BBC Producer, Simon Bell.
- 'City Bees' - bumblebee documentary directed by naturalist Alice Kirk and Ammonite productions.
- 'RUN' - 20 minute psychological thriller directed by Joshua O'Conner.

My Top 3 Film Scores

- The American Beauty soundtrack by Thomas Newman is a favourite. I love his music generally for its subtlety but specifically in this film he captures both the humour and profundity of the rebellion and personal transformations within the character's lives.


-The original Planet Earth soundtrack by George Fenton is breathtaking, I love how he captures multiple emotions at once, whether its wonder and fear or tenderness and trepidation as well perfectly matching Attenboroughs narration as it ebbs and flows between different aspects.


-Although very dark, because of its jazz sound and beautiful orchestration, Taxi Driver by Bernard Hermann is another contender, he captures the duality of Travis Bickle and the intense loneliness/misanthropy contrasted with this tender affection and protective, caring side of his nature.

Top 3 moments where music sync has stood out...

 - The first would be the first sequence of “Caves” episode of Planet Earth (George Fenton), the music matches the wonder and alarm of these people jumping into the abyss and then opening their parachutes to majestically float down this dark cave with shards of light piercing through, the score starts with ominous low drums and sparse chords with an arabic female voice over the top and then as the parachute opens these luxurious string chords blend beautifully with the voice to leave a feeling of wonderment that builds as he descends.


- The second would be the final sequence of Blood Diamond (James Newton Howard), I just find the mix of orchestral and traditional African palettes beautiful and the courage, sadness, hope and triumph of the piece really works so well with the scene as Solomon steps up to speak out about the issue of blood diamonds and his story.


- The third would be one of the scenes from the documentary McCullin, scored by Alex Baranowski, it’s a tragic sequence where a bomb leaves mothers crying for their lost children and the music rises in anguish and despair against these artfully taken black and white photos of the aftermath. The choral music supported with orchestra builds beautifully with the climax coming as one of the mothers is looking to the heavens as if to ask “why?” and the vocal line reaches its highest, most melanchollic point.


My musical life...

I love making music, it's who I am. I think music has a special place in all of our hearts and I'm no different. I've been through so many musical phases in my life and all of them have informed the way I write in some way. I have slowly come to my own voice in music that sits either between Max Richter and Trent Reznor or Bonobo and Floating Points however if the project in front of me requires a certain direction in order to be true to the message of the song, film, game then I'm confident I can draw on my experience and deliver something unique and powerful that works well.

The jazz bug bit me from an early age but was put on the back-burner in my teens when I focused on becoming the next Chase & Status or DJ Hype. Conversely, I was also hoping to one day be a film composer and make music like James Newton-Howard or Jerry Goldsmith somewhere in my mind. Jazz reemerged in my musical psyche at the Uni of Southampton where I studied music, specialising in jazz/blues/funk saxophone, which really helped me take a look under the hood of music and start seeing the connections between different styles and understanding more complex harmony. At the same time I was also developing a love for African folk music from Mali, Senegal and the afro-beat of Nigeria. Following this I started to loose the strict jazz asthetic and find a love for more cinematic and classical music, opening up to minimalist composers such as Philip Glass, Steve Reich and modern cinematic electronic bands like Bonbo, Sigur Ros and Portico.

After graduating, I spent a year working as a professional saxophonist/pianist and honing my craft as a composer, studying under the highly acclaimed film/tv composer, Andrew Daniels and writing numerous compositions, working on film projects with student directors, releasing a full album release of original compositions with my jazz quartet, Arcades of London that incorporated afro-cuban, minimalism, neo-soul and of course be-bop and then a six track hip-hop E.P, Aporia that merged jazz, cinematic styles, rock and electronica.


I then studied an intensive composition MA at the University of Bristol, studying under leading figures in the film/t.v music industry such as William Goodchild and Martin Kiszko and worked solidly on re-scoring existing professional films for the course and an hour-long portfolio of original music for student short films, animation and games. I really got a good sense of how to communicate ideas to the directors and build up close working relationships. I started to eat, sleep and breath the music of the best film composers from past and present such as Bernard Hermann, Max Steiner, Jerry Goldsmith, John Williams, Thomas Newman, Alberto Inglesias, Max Richter as well as the classical giants like Debussy and Rachmaninoff. I also learned so much from the modules of the course about studio production, orchestral arranging and the industry generally. And during the year I really began to embrace the heart of what film music is about, capturing the message/intention and creating a space where the film and audience meet to share the unravelling of the story. 

Since my MA I have been living and working in London as a composer for film and TV and as a producer in residence at the People's Ear Studio. I'm on the lookout for any exciting project that needs music such as any visual media, games, dance acts and ballet. Personally, I still really value melodies where the trend seems to be against them but combined with the most poignant and evocative soundscapes, motifs can play a huge role in telling the story in any media. I would love to bring my passion for portraying a message through music and understanding of many styles of music to your project.


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