Film Music Guild scrutinizes movie scores


Here is a closer look at a club that celebrates great music in movies, TV shows and video games.

On Thursday nights at 9:30 p.m., students head over to the business building and climb up to the second floor. There they gather in a room, switch off the lights and listen to music — in particular, film music. So goes the typical night with Film Music Guild.

Film Music Guild (FMG) is a club for students who love learning about how the intricacies of music scores enhance the whole story. Though the club’s name highlights film music, they also listen to a range of television and video-game music scores.


FMG president Alique Malakian, a senior kinesiology major, has led the club since 2020. She first joined in 2019 — her first year at Biola — and when the club sought for new students to take up leadership positions, Malakian decided to give it a shot.

“I said, ‘You know what, I think I’m interested, I could take on some minor role,’” Malakian said. She ended up becoming the vice president. “I was kind of stressed about it at first because I didn’t know what kind of commitment it would be, but I grew to really like it.”

Kobe Burton, a senior music composition major, joined FMG as vice president the year after Malakian began. 

“I’d been talking with Dr. Denham [a professor in the Conservatory of Music] because he wanted to get more music involvement in the club,” Burton said. “So he was like, ‘If we can get anyone from composition to be on the leadership team, that’d be really cool.’”


In the regular club meetings, the president and vice president take turns or collaborate making a presentation for club members to enjoy. They analyze the melodies and harmonies, as well as particular instrument choices and how that creates the atmosphere to enhance a film, show or video game story. Occasionally, the club members themselves get a chance to present on music they like.

For one meeting, Burton created a presentation on music theory with the idea of going into depth on how musical characteristics contribute to a film — for instance, why a certain harmony works, or why a particular melody is intriguing.

Malakian and Burton also collaborated on a presentation about language and music. 

“There were some scores out there where someone’s singing, and you don’t really know what they’re saying,” Malakian said. “Sometimes it’s just a different language or a created language. So seeing how those words actually have meaning [augments] how good the score is, so that was a really cool thing to look at.”

FMG hosts a variety of other activities.

“We try to do some outings and some on-campus events. Covid has [made things] interesting, so I don’t think we’ve gotten on a perfect roll yet, but a constant after Covid has been going to see movies together. Last fall, we went to see ‘Dune,’” Malakian said. “In times when we weren’t able to do that, we’ve done movie showings. We’d just reserve a room and watch a movie. We’ve done ‘Inception’ after Covid [and] ‘How to Train Your Dragon’ this past semester.”

This semester, the plan is to have at least one movie-outing. Malakian also hopes to revive a FMG tradition of going to the Hollywood Bowl to see John Williams’ concerts and possibly host an Oscar Awards viewing party.


Burton especially loves FMG for its passionate community. 

“It’s really cool to be around people who are similarly interested in any game or TV or movie score, and it’s really interesting for me because I don’t know every film score that’s out there, so I’ve learned a lot from Alique and from the other presenters,” Burton said. 

Malakian also appreciates the diverse membership within the group.

“In recent years it’s been a big mixed bag of people from everywhere,” Malakian said. “[We have] the film students, the music students, and the ‘casuals,’ which is what I would be, because I’m not [a film or music major]. So it’s really fun to just see people from every field at Biola enjoying the same thing.”

If you are interested in joining Film Music Guild or have questions, you can join them on the Biola app or email [email protected].