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Failure is always fine in retrospect. It’s when you’re in the middle of it that things can get dark. You wonder if you’ll ever make anything good ever again. It’s a common fear of creative people: We’re worried we’ll wake up one day and all our creativity will be gone. And yet, there’s not a single creative person out there who hasn’t failed miserably at some point. It’s going to happen, and then it’s going to happen again. What makes someone a pro is how they deal with it — how they move on.

It’s easier than ever to become a film composer. The tools are cheap and available, and there is no shortage of up-and-coming filmmakers who need soundtracks. But while it might be easier than ever to start making music for film, it’s as difficult as it’s always been to become great at it. And there aren’t any short cuts.

It’s one thing to imitate another artist. But it’s another, much deadlier thing to imitate yourself. There often comes a point in an artist’s career when they find themselves in a self-destructive loop, looking to their past work as a guide for their future. It’s called a creative rut, and not everyone makes it out alive. Earlier this year, Tony Anderson found himself in a creative rut.

Toward the end of this interview, things got pretty serious. Like when Tony said he’d recently broken his iPhone in half with his bare hands. By that point, though, we’d been talking for over an hour and I didn’t find his confession that surprising. Tony is a guy who takes his life and his work seriously. You can hear it immediately in his songs, and you can sense it almost immediately over the phone. This guy isn’t messing around. After starting his career with a pirated version of FruityLoops and a chance meeting with Hans Zimmer, Tony has gone on to score projects for some of the biggest brands and most influential filmmakers in the world. But none of it would have happened had he not gone through a series of complete and utter breakdowns.

Sometimes artists have to do battle with their work. The dirty truth is that art doesn’t always come easily. But, if we’re willing to stick with it, these projects can be the most rewarding and most definitive. Case in point: Composer Tony Anderson. He spent four years battling his latest album Chasm and, make no mistake, it was battle:

When we landed in Lexington to make our film about Tony Anderson, we had a pretty good idea how things were going to turn out. We’d written a treatment. We’d picked out a few song options. We had a schedule and a shot list and a bunch of little boxes just waiting for us to put a checkmark in them. Overall, we felt pretty confident. We knew when we got back to our office in Fort Worth that we’d be able to put together something decent.

“Ignorance is bliss,” Isaac Testerman says. “Everything we did was taking the bull by the horns, not knowing if what we were doing was the best way to go about it. We were just doing things the best we could.” After making his first short film with zero filmmaking know-how, Isaac went on to cofound Delve, one of Facebook’s lead creative agencies. Now, seven years later, what Isaac and his team lack in formal training, they make up for with gusto and experience.