After composing music for the film “Compliance,” directed by Craig Zobel, Athens resident and University of Georgia graduate Heather McIntosh decided to move out to Los Angeles just before the Sundance Film Festival of 2012.
“It was definitely the right time for me to head out west. ‘Compliance’ was my first film, so it made sense to go for it then,” McIntosh said.
As a cellist for the Elephant Six Collective, McIntosh has played with groups including of Montreal, The Olivia Tremor Control and Circulatory System, among many others.
Her most recent project, the film “Z for Zachariah,” took her back to Sundance in 2015.
“Z for Zachariah” was also directed by Zobel and was shot in New Zealand. The score was bigger and more orchestral than that of “Compliance” and gave McIntosh the opportunity to show her range as a composer.
“There’s something really amazing about having a hand in helping find a film’s voice,” McIntosh said.
Following the showing of “Compliance” in 2012, McIntosh participated in a Sundance Lab program at Skywalker Ranch in Nicasio, California.
The program consisted of an intensive workshop environment and McIntosh learned and grew as a composer for film.
Her return to the Sundance festival in 2015 gave McIntosh a chance to reconnect with some of the same people she worked with in the lab program.
“In a way, it’s like going back to Athens,” McIntosh said. “I got to enjoy being around old friends.”
McIntosh began playing with the Elephant Six Collective while attending UGA. The collective has spread into an ensemble of various groups, and McIntosh plays wherever she can fit in.
McIntosh regards moving from Cleveland to Athens, meeting all of her friends in the Elephant Six Collective community and moving to Los Angeles to pursue film music as the defining moments of her career so far.
“It’s really been about making all the musical connections and realizing I can create the music, that there was a place for me,” McIntosh said.
For her upcoming plans, McIntosh has a few projects in the works. She is working on the film “Manson Family Vacation” directed by J. Davis and a documentary on the film director Hal Ashby.
She is also going on tour with Circulatory System and will be getting married.
Although she is thriving in Los Angeles, McIntosh still considers Athens her creative home.
“Athens provided me with that creative incubation, and it’s where I figured out who I am as a creator,” McIntosh said. “I found my voice creatively. Now I’m just trying to share it with everyone.”
Student musicians are encouraged that an Athens native is doing so well in a competitive industry.
“Sundance is a big deal, so to be able to claim her education and the place that cultivated her creativity and talent as the same place I’m at makes me feel lucky to be a part of such a great music program,” said Andi Clements, a freshman music student from Lilburn.