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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March
1
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Sun
2
Wildcat Wellness: Expressions (Creative Stress Relief)
Resume & Cover Letters that Work
Mon
3
Wildcat Wellness: Relaxation
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Grad Salute
2nd Annual UK Work-Life Summer Camps Fair
UK Elder Care Lunch & Learn - Keeping Your Brain Healthy
Successful Networking & Job Search
Guest Lecture
Documentary Screening: "Forgotten Wars, Forgotten Victims"
Bangladeshi Garment Worker Speak Out
A Reading by Nic Brown
CatWatch Party #3
Tue
4
LNFS Presents: The Mighty Ducks
Wildcat Wellness: Meditation
Internship Info Session
Grad Salute
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
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Brazilian Conversation Hour
Art Therapy Table
OUTspoken with J Mase III
CANCELED: Appalachian Forum with Crystal Wilkinson entitled: Birds of Opulence: Black Women, Madness, and Resilience in Appalachia
Wed
5
LNFS Presents: Typeface
LNFS Presents: Space Jam
Grad Salute
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Wildcat Wellness: Healthy Habits
Food for Hope
Thu
6
LNFS Presents: A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night
LNFS Presents: Pokémon: The First Movie
Cultural Coffee Hour
Grad Salute
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Japan Today
Fri
7
Free Saturday Swing Dance Lessons
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Karnival Around The World
Graduate & Professional School Prep:KAPLAN Free Practice Test for MCAT and LSAT
PharmD Open House
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8
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Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
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Sun
9
Midterm of 2015 Spring Semester
Wildcat Wellness: Expressions (Creative Stress Relief)
GUEST LECTURE
Appalachian Forum with Rebecca Klenk, Topic: Global Uttarakhand: Development, Neoliberalism and Social Justice in Himalayan India
Ballroom Thieves
Mon
10
Wildcat Wellness: Relaxation
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Job Club: Staying Positive During A Job Search
Massage on the Go #2
Tue
11
LNFS Presents: Only Lovers Left Alive
Wildcat Wellness: Meditation
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
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Lexington Tattoo Project
Brazilian Conversation Hour
Jin Shin Jyutsu Self-Help Class
Leadership Assessment
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True Songs
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12
LNFS Presents: Into the Woods
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
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Lexington Tattoo Project
Wildcat Wellness: Healthy Habits
Free Spring Break Shuttle to Blue Grass Airport
LNFS Presents: Waiting for 'Superman'
Thu
13
LNFS Presents: Vertigo
Cultural Coffee Hour
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Free Spring Break Shuttle to Blue Grass Airport
LNFS Presents: Trainspotting
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14
Free Saturday Swing Dance Lessons
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
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15
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Sun
16
Spring 2015 Spring Vacation
Mon
17
Spring 2015 Spring Vacation
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Tue
18
Spring 2015 Spring Vacation
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Wed
19
Spring 2015 Spring Vacation
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Thu
20
Spring 2015 Spring Vacation
Cultural Coffee Hour
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Plating Design Demonstration with Dan Wu
Fri
21
Spring 2015 Spring Vacation
Free Saturday Swing Dance Lessons
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Sat
22
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Sun
23
Wildcat Wellness: Expressions (Creative Stress Relief)
"Thrive: The Kentucky Wine Tradition" Documentary Screening
Mon
24
Wildcat Wellness: Relaxation
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Job Club: A Snapshot of the Central Kentucky Labor Market
Career & Major Exploration Session @ 1 p.m.
Career & Major Exploration Session @ 2 p.m.
Career & Major Exploration Session @ 3 p.m.
Kentucky Teacher's Network Career Fair
Tue
25
LNFS Presents: Rear Window
Wildcat Wellness: Meditation
Internship Info Session
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Brazilian Conversation Hour
Healthy Smoothie Demonstration
Cultural Diversity Festival: Ten Thousand Villages
Virtual Dementia Tour
Career & Major Exploration Session @ 1 p.m.
Healthy Smoothie Demonstration
Career & Major Exploration Session @ 2 p.m.
Career & Major Exploration Session @ 3 p.m.
Barred for Life: A Conversation on Mass Incarceration
Women of the World: Rosario Dawson
Wed
26
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LNFS Presents: Blade Runner
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Wildcat Wellness: Healthy Habits
Student & Employer Mixer
Young Artists Exhibit Reception
Thu
27
LNFS Presents: Psycho
LNFS Presents: The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou
Cultural Coffee Hour
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
UK Woman's Club Craft and Bake Sale
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Fri
28
Free Saturday Swing Dance Lessons
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Sat
29
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Lion King Trip
The Voice of Lexington Chinese Singing Competetion
Sun
30
Wildcat Wellness: Expressions (Creative Stress Relief)
Mon
31
Wildcat Wellness: Relaxation
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
A Reading by Jim Gavin
Tue
 
 
 
 

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