Minh Khuat on working at Remote Control Productions
Minh Khuat is the first Vietnamese composer to be working at Remote Control Productions, a film score company run by the renowned composer Hans Zimmer.
Photos provided by Minh Khuat
Learning music from the age of three, Minh attended Vietnam National Academy of Music (VNAM) when he was only 8 years old, majoring in Piano Performance and Music Theory. In 2012, Minh participated in ASIA International Piano Academy & Festival with Competition and received a Silver Prize in Piano Solo. In 2014, he earned ABRSM (Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music) Grade 8, which is the highest grade in Piano Performance. In 2015, Minh attended ASIA Art Festival and won two Gold Prizes in both Piano Solo and Duo.

He has also performed live at festivals across the world and worked at some of the most well-known/technology advanced studios in the world, including 2021 TEC Award Nominee The Mix Lab, Mecca Recording Studio, and Hans Zimmer's Remote Control Productions.

Minh is now the composer assistant for Warner Bros and New Line Cinema's feature film Mortal Kombat, becoming the first Vietnamese composer ever to be working on a Hollywood project.
Growing up, Minh Khuat played piano and aspired to become a professional pianist. When he started at Full Sail University, one of the classes he took was in film scoring, which led him to re-think his plans for the future. "I just really liked the class," Minh explains. "My mom does music and my dad does film, so it was like a combination of the [two professions]."

When choosing which universities to apply to, the composer was looking for a school that wouldn't require SAT scores, was fairly affordable, and had a music major. The decision fell onto two different institutions: Berklee College of Music and Full Sail University. Minh decided to go with Full Sail because "Berklee is a little more expensive and it's a four year program", while Full Sail offers a two year accelerated program. "It saved me two years of my life -- instead of being in college, I'm already working, which I think is amazing," he says. "Nonetheless, education doesn't really stop the second you walk out of college, it continues. Till this day, I am still constantly learning new things, just with a lot more responsibility!"

Although Khuat thinks that college is entirely optional, he believes that being in an environment where everyone shares the same passion really helps one to push the boundaries and become a better musician. "Before Full Sail, I only knew how to play piano and read music, but when I started [here], they taught me the behind-the-scenes of how music is created," the composer shares. "When I talk with someone about music, I know the terms and I'm not completely lost."

After taking the film scoring class, Minh got the chance to intern at a post production company in his home country through a Vietnamese student who worked there and recommended him to the CEO. "In Vietnam, there aren't that many composers who actually went to school and trained," he explains, describing how most of them teach themselves through tutorials on YouTube.
In Hollywood, it's not as easy to become an additional composer. "They are still pretty old school with the idea of being an intern/runner and move up from there," the young composer notes. "However, I think it's a really good way for employers to observe and see who has the right working attitude." According to Khuat, you have to first become an intern, then gain experience in being a runner, move on to become a composer assistant. From there, you get the opportunity to write additional music, but the rules aren't similar in Vietnam.

The internship lasted for three months, where Minh really got a sense of what it's like to compose for a film. "[The movie] didn't really make a hit or a box office top chart, but it was a good experience," he concludes. "I learned a lot, and I thought that this is really cool and [something that] I want to [give a] try."

Returning back to the university, Minh told his career advisor that he wants to pursue film composition after graduation, to which she said that she would connect him with an alumni that was working at Remote Control Productions, Hans Zimmer's production company. "I reached out to him, and he said to come to Los Angeles when [I] finish and we'll talk, so that is what I did," Minh continues. After graduating in October of last year, the young musician flew across the country to speak with the alumni. "He happened to be a really good friend of the operation manager here, so he recommended me, and that's how I got the internship at RCP," he says.

Khuat interned during Thanksgiving and Christmas, a time where a lot of employees tend to travel back to their hometowns to spend time with family. Typically, there are two scenarios that can happen once you complete your internship -- in Minh's words, either you do a really good job, the company is need of workers, and they offer you a job, or you do a really good job, but the company is full, therefore they record your contact information in case a spot opens and you're still interested in the offer. "My internship was [coming to an end], but they were in need of some help, and I happened to be there, so they offered me a job," he recalls. Right now, Khuat is working as an assistant composer, getting the position through recommendations from other people.
In the case of RCP, Minh says that even though it is called Hans Zimmer's production company, he isn't the only composer there. "A lot of composers write in this space, and being an intern or a runner here, you get to see them in person and interact," he mentions. If a composer is looking for an assistant and you happen to be there at the right time, there's a good chance you might get the job.

Because of this, the young musician advises to connect with as many people as possible, since you never know who is going to offer you the job. "As an intern, it might feel like you are not doing anything that would make a big impact on the company, and that's okay," he elaborates. "Just work hard and opportunities will come."

At the same time, it's crucial to not be hard on yourself. "As humans, we make mistakes. What's important is that we take responsibility for our own actions and learn from our mistakes," Minh smiles.
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