Film Highlights Lack of Women Composers in Movies and TV

By Burlingame, Jon | Variety, July 25, 2017 | Go to article overview

Film Highlights Lack of Women Composers in Movies and TV


Burlingame, Jon, Variety


"women who score," a 12-minute film by Sara Nesson, available online, documents a remarkable concert - and a huge dilemma.

The concert took place last summer in downtown L.A., where Grand Performances hosted a night of film and TV music by 20 composers - a diverse collection of classical- and jazz-influenced works. What was unusual was that all of the composers were women. And therein lies the dilemma.

The concert, performed by a 55-piece orchestra and 30-voice choir, showcased the work of a segment of the music community that, for sheer numbers, statistics show, ranks woefully behind every other creative field in filmmaking.

Nesson, whose "Poster Girl" was a 2010 Oscar nominee for documentary short, heard about the event from her "Poster Girl" composer, Miriam Cutler. Nesson remembers Cutler's recording session as "the most incredible, euphoric experience of the entire process, hearing the music bring my film to life."

So she set out to record the concert, sponsored by the Alliance for Women Film Composers. Canon donated cameras and lenses for cinematographer Eve Cohen, and Cohen and Nesson shot two days of rehearsals, backstage interviews and the concert itself, attended by 1,500 people.

"The whole industry is struggling right now with the lack of diversity," Cutler says in "Women Who Score." "Nowhere is it more evident than among composers for film. The smallest of percentages of women are involved in scoring films. That's not because they're not interested; it's because they can't get though the initial gatekeepers. …

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