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:

 

 

aj4uknowcover_success.jpgaj2.jpgaj1.jpg
April
 
 
 
1
LNFS Presents: Inherent Vice
Wildcat Wellness: Meditation
Successful Networking & Job Search
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Brazilian Conversation Hour
The Arboretum presents a Party for the Planet! Celebrate Kentucky's Past
Mr. PharmD Pageant 2015
Wed
2
LNFS Presents: Manakamana
LNFS Presents: Donnie Darko
National Student Exchange (NSE) Info Session
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Wildcat Wellness: Healthy Habits
SEC-ACC Virtual Career Fair
Massage on the Go #3
Thu
3
Cultural Coffee Hour
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Fri
4
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
5
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Sun
6
Wildcat Wellness: Expressions (Creative Stress Relief)
Age Friendly Community Panel
Resumes & Cover Letters that Work
Mon
7
National Student Exchange (NSE) Info Session
Wildcat Wellness: Relaxation
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Tue
8
LNFS Presents: The Godfather
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
UK Remembers
SpeakBlue: Richard Sherman
Wed
9
LNFS Presents: The Shawshank Redemption
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Wildcat Wellness: Healthy Habits
From Plows to Plates: A Journey Through Kentucky Foodways
Workshop on Publishing
Teached Documentary
Thu
10
LNFS Presents: Enemy
LNFS Presents: Seven Psychopaths
Cultural Coffee Hour
Last Day to Withdraw or Reduce Course Load
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Robert C. May Photography Endowment Lecture: Julian Cox
Fri
11
Free Saturday Swing Dance Lessons
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
fab-ric-ate Exhibit
Sat
12
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Kentucky's Present - Learn about the Bluegrass region of the Walk Across Kentucky and about invasive plants that threaten Kentucky landscapes
Sun
13
Wildcat Wellness: Expressions (Creative Stress Relief)
Don't Ask, Don't Tell
Get Your DIY On! Fix-It Station Demonstrations
Mon
14
Wildcat Wellness: Relaxation
Job Club - LinkedIn: Your Job Search Best Friend
Tie Dye Tuesday
#UK Kick Butts Day
Career & Major Exploration Session @ 1 p.m.
Career & Major Exploration Session @ 2 p.m.
Career & Major Exploration Session @ 3 p.m.
Take Back the Night Lexington
Tue
15
LNFS Presents: The Godfather: Part II
Wildcat Wellness: Meditation
Brazilian Conversation Hour
Career & Major Exploration Session @ 11 a.m.
Career & Major Exploration Session @ Noon
Career & Major Exploration Session @ 1 p.m.
Affrilachian Poets
Bike-In Movie: The Bicycle Thieves
Wed
16
LNFS Presents: The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Wildcat Wellness: Healthy Habits
CANCELED: Bike-In Breakfast
Human Rights in China: a panel discussion
Thu
17
LNFS Presents: North by Northwest
LNFS Presents: Raiders of the Lost Ark
Cultural Coffee Hour
Car-Free Day
Performance Conference
Audience Appeals and Performing Assistance Conference
Holi: The Indian Festival of Colors
Fri
18
Free Saturday Swing Dance Lessons
Bully Breed Awareness Walk
Spring Carnival 2015
Taste of Africa
GAYla Drag Show and Silent Auction
Sat
19
 
Sun
20
Wildcat Wellness: Expressions (Creative Stress Relief)
Floral Sculpture
Pinterest Party #3
Mon
21
Wildcat Wellness: Relaxation
Student Center "Farewell" Informational Fair
Tour de Downtown Art
Tue
22
LNFS Presents: Birdman
Wildcat Wellness: Meditation
National Student Exchange (NSE) Info Session
Brazilian Conversation Hour
Healthy Smoothie Demonstration
Ping Pong Ball Drop
Shake the Stress Fest
Wed
23
LNFS Presents: Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
LNFS Presents: The Avengers
Wildcat Wellness: Healthy Habits
Wildcat Wrap-Up
UK Elder Care Lunch & Learn
Kentucky's Future - Plant a Tree in the Pennyrile region of the Walk Across Kentucky
Thu
24
LNFS Presents: Batman
LNFS Presents: O Brother, Where Art Thou?
Cultural Coffee Hour
Art in Bloom Weekend
Fri
25
Free Saturday Swing Dance Lessons
Network Publishing: Digital Writing in the Humanities
The Party for the Planet final event in April is Arbor Day at The Arboretum!
Art in Bloom Weekend
Raise the Chinese Dream in Kentucky
Art in Bloom Cocktail Party
Sat
26
Art in Bloom Weekend
Sun
27
Resumes & Cover Letters that Work
Wildcat Wellness: Expressions (Creative Stress Relief)
Fuel for Finals
UK Ag Equine Programs Distinguished Lecture Series
Mon
28
Wildcat Wellness: Relaxation
Be PAWsitive!
Job Club: How to Write the Perfect Resume and Cover Letter
Showcase of Undergraduate Scholars
How to Impress Your Boss: Employer Panel
Tue
29
Wildcat Wellness: Meditation
Internship Info Session
Brazilian Conversation Hour
Appalachian Research Day
Wed
30
Wildcat Wellness: Healthy Habits
Thu
 
 

Sat, 04/25/2015 - Sun, 04/26/2015

Reset Page