Amy Jones-Timoney

By

College: Business and Economics

UK Alum Finds Success in the Film Industry

Published: May 14, 2013

 

Video by UK Public Relations and Marketing

 

For UK alum A.J. Hochhalter, simply attending the 2013 Sundance Film Festival was a thrill.  He helped compose the music for the documentary Blood Brother, a contender in the U.S. Documentary category.  

 

"I didn't expect for the film to even be in the Sundance because that's an honor in itself just to be entered," Hochhalter said. 

 

But as the ceremony began, his elation grew as Blood Brother won the Audience Award for U.S. Documentary.

 

"When it won that one first, honestly for me that one was more exciting because more people were voting, and I considered that as a better like-barometer of how the world was seeing this film and reacting to it," Hochhalter said.

 

But the accolades did not end there.  Blood Brother ended up winning the grand prize, which is the Grand Jury Award for the festival.

 

"It's still kind of unbelievable," Hochhalter said.  "It's exciting for me because the recent awards mean a lot of people will see it!"

 

The Louisville native composes film and commercial music from Listen Design Studio, the business he started in downtown Lexington after graduating from UK's Gatton College of Business and Economics with a marketing degree in 2010. 

 

"I earned a marketing degree because I thought ― you could be the best musician in the world or the best film composer, but if you don't understand the environment you are going to put yourself into then you're just going to stay in the basement being the best film composer that ever lived, and no one's going to hear about you." said Hochhalter.

 

Armed with a business background, he realized after college his passion rested with a hobby he started in high school.  As a student at Louisville Christian Academy, he would spend hours playing and recording music.

 

"I kind of grew up in a time where computers were coming out where you didn't have to go to a big studio," Hochhalter said.  "You could do it in your bedroom, so I always messed around with recording music."

 

But he says those who heard his recordings lamented that they sounded 
"too much like the movies, too intense."

 

During his time on campus, he remembered the comment that seemed like a negative back when he was in high school.

 

"I met people at UK who started nonprofits and worked on documentaries either at my church or in class, and they would always put some 'Pirates of the Caribbean' music in it, but then they could never use it," he said.   "They were looking for people to just take a crack at it, and I remembered back to high school when people told me my stuff sounded like a film. So, I decided to at least give it a try.  I picked it up and I really enjoyed it."

 

Hochhalter composed for free, just trying to get his name out there and developing a portfolio.

 

"I would ask people to let me write music for their movie trailers, and eventually I met the right people that kept calling back ― directors that ended up falling in love with my sound," he said. "By that time I had a pretty large portfolio of stuff I'd done so from there people could kind of hear my potential."

 

Hochhalter says his time at UK working on a business degree helped him put his best foot forward as he made connections in the film industry. 

 

"I felt very prepared and I knew what to expect, I knew the lingo," said Hochhalter. "If you're new to it, just to learn even what some of these words mean is tough, but if you have studied them you can jump right in and talk confidently with a producer who runs on more of a business brain because he's talking about scheduling and budgets and money and meetings."

 

All of those connections led him to the opportunity to work on Blood Brother, a documentary that captured a young American's experience working at an orphanage for children infected with HIV in India. From the beginning, the film was unique because the director and producer could not pay what other films pay because they wanted money from the documentary to go toward efforts in India.

 

 "As soon as I saw the film ― no matter if they wanted it for free ― I was going to say 'of course,' because it was moving, and I was just happy to have music in it," said Hochhalter.  "It was very much a community collaborative because there are three other people that donated their music writing, so we all just kind of put our talents together and got it done."

 

Beyond the award, he says the relationships he developed with those working on the film have already paved the way to future business.

 

"At the time I had no idea, but because of my work, it has turned into them calling me and saying, 'Hey, we have a big name client and we need music for this commercial.'" Hochhalter said.  "Because of our relationship, I've been the one they come to, so it's been good."

 

The husband and father of one doesn't plan on leaving Lexington for his career. 

 

"Lexington is the perfect place for what I am doing, but when I tell people what I do, they are surprised I live in Lexington. They think I should be in LA or in New York, but because of technology, it's easy to work from here," Hochhalter said.  "In the past few years, Lexington has changed and there's an artistic feel to it.  I have learned that this is the perfect place to be."

 

He hopes more documentary work is in his future, too.

 

"I like documentaries … because they're true stories and something inherently powerful when you know it's true, and the music is a little closer to the actual story." Hochhalter said. 

 

But fame and money are not what motivates this young composer. 

 

"There are a lot of people in the world that are oppressed or struggling and don't have the life or luxury that I have," Hochhalter said.  "I've been blessed with this ability to be able to help and use it as a tool and weapon to fight against these awful things that happen to people, so that's my underlying motivation."

 

 

To view other video stories about University of Kentucky alumni, watch the "see success." YouTube playlist below:

 

 

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November
 
 
 
 
 
 
1
Free Saturday Swing Dance Lessons
College of Pharmacy Open House
Iron Pour
UK Women's Choir 20th Anniversary Concert
Adventure Hiking & Rappelling @ Red River Gorge
Pickin' Time Mountain Music and Harvest Day
Purposeful Retirement: Planning Your Next Stage of Life
Diwali Dhoom 2014
Sat
2
UK Percussion Ensemble
Day Hike
Curator Tour: Take My Word For It
Sun
3
Industry Career Week: Resumes and Cover Letters
Kentucky Volleyball vs. Morehead State
Mon
4
Industry Career Week: How to Impress Your Boss in 90 Days
Rock Star Professionalism Series
UK Lab Band
Tue
5
Industry Career Week: Networking and Job Search
Social Enterprise and Innovation / Certified Nonprofit Professional Program Informational Meeting
Circle of Love Name Distribution
Appalachian Forum with Dr. Fran Ansley
Dana Harper Gallery Reception
Wed
6
Career Assessment Workshop
LNFS Presents: Zona Sur
LNFS Presents: The Grand Budapest Hotel
UK Jazz Ensemble
Circle of Love Name Distribution
Abstract Workshop
Lauren Potter
Thu
7
LNFS Presents: V for Vendetta
Last Day to Withdraw or Reduce Course Load
Circle of Love Name Distribution
R.C. May Photography Lecture Series: Marvin Heiferman
Men's Soccer vs. Charlotte
Kentucky Volleyball vs. Georgia
Free Friday Evening Swing Dance
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8
Kentucky Football vs. Georgia
Free Saturday Swing Dance Lessons
The Power of Poetry
The Lexington Lowdown and Free Lindy Hop Workshop
Swing Dance Featuring Live music by"The Metrognomes Orchestra"
Sat
9
UK Combos Concert
Kentucky Volleyball vs. Missouri
Sun
10
Circle of Love Name Distribution
Mon
11
UK Sax Ensembles
Job Club - Interviewing Strategies
Undergraduate Research Information Session
Jose Abisambra Presentation on Current Alzheimer's Research
Women of the World: Judy Smith
Tue
12
Internship Info Session
LNFS Presents: Reservoir Dogs
Refugee Life in America
#UKEDTALKS: International Opportunities for Education Majors
Leadership Assessment
Wed
13
Career Assessment Workshop
LNFS Presents: Iron Man 3
Chili and Pie Cook-Off Supper
#TrendingTopics: Vegetarians vs. Meat-Eaters
Campus Polar Plunge to benefit Special Olympics KY
LNFS Presents: La Demora
Thu
14
LNFS Presents: Pretty in Pink
LNFS Presents: Mean Girls
Fri
15
Free Saturday Swing Dance Lessons
Sat
16
Kentucky Volleyball vs. Florida
Greek Cinematography: Critical Approach and Discussion
"Storied Streets" Documentary Showing about Experiences of Homelessness
Sun
17
The Vexillology (the study of maps) Contest
UK Rep Bands Concert
College of Agriculture, Food & Environment 2014 Celebration of Land-Grant Research
Amanda Rogers, "Black Flags, ISIS 'Swag' & Jihadi Rap: Marketing Militancy after the Arab Spring"
Stories of Homelessness: Panel Discussion
Mon
18
The Vexillology (the study of maps) Contest
A Positive Approach to Caregiving Conference
Education Abroad Open House
CatWatch Party
Appalachian Forum and Film Screening of "Up the Ridge"
Tue
19
The Vexillology (the study of maps) Contest
LNFS Presents: The Princess and the Frog
Pinterest Party
International Games Day
Global Design with Phil Duncan
Caregiver Support Group
OXFAM Social Issues Banquet
Wed
20
The Vexillology (the study of maps) Contest
Much Ado About Nothing
LNFS Presents: I Travel Because I Have To, I Come Back Because I Love You
LNFS Presents: The Big Lebowski
International Education Week Keynote Speaker: Christie Vilsack, Senior Advisor for International Education at USAID
Tobacco-free Tailgate 5 Year Anniversary
Bollywood Night
Thu
21
The Vexillology (the study of maps) Contest
Much Ado About Nothing
LNFS Presents: Water For Elephants
4th Annual Markesbery Symposium on Aging & Dementia
Freedom from Fear: On Black Childhood and Other Dangers
Bouldering @ Stone Fort
MEAT.
Fri
22
The Vexillology (the study of maps) Contest
Much Ado About Nothing
Bouldering @ Stone Fort
Free Saturday Swing Dance Lessons
Sat
23
The Vexillology (the study of maps) Contest
Much Ado About Nothing
Bouldering @ Stone Fort
UK Symphony Band and UK Concert Band
Sun
24
The Vexillology (the study of maps) Contest
Free Thanksgiving Shuttle to Blue Grass Airport
Mon
25
Free Thanksgiving Shuttle to Blue Grass Airport
Job Club - What is your money habitude?
Multicultural Student Thanksgiving Dinner
Tue
26
Thanksgiving - Academic Holidays
Free Thanksgiving Shuttle to Blue Grass Airport
Wed
27
Thanksgiving - Academic Holidays
Thu
28
Thanksgiving - Academic Holidays
Fri
29
Thanksgiving - Academic Holidays
Free Saturday Swing Dance Lessons
Kentucky Volleyball vs. Arkansas
Sat
30
 
Sun
 
 
 
 
 
 

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