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Celebrating women composers on National Film Score Day


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Today is National Film Score Day so we thought it was time to re-introduce you, our lovely Glasgow Film audience, to our Spotify channel

When I started to put together a playlist of my favourite original film scores, I quickly fell down a Zimmer-Williams rabbit hole and, as usual, the same thing struck me: where are all the women?

It’s not that I’m not a fan of their work, but film composition is one of the most male centric roles in the industry. In 2019, of the top 250 grossing films, the percentage with an original soundtrack written by a women was a measly 6%. The average age of these composers has grown from 41 years old in 1988 to 54 in 2017 – what does this tell us?

It’s a small pool – Hans Zimmer has scored over 112 films over three decades. Yes, there are more men than women in this line of work but, as the saying goes, you can’t be what you can’t see and surely there are talented women writing music for film out there?

Well yes – there are. Lots of them as it happens but when it comes to the big features sadly they just don’t get the same opportunities as their male counterparts.

This playlist has three of the four women who have won an Oscar for music – Hildur Guðnadóttir is the only woman to win the award under no qualifications; Portman and Dudley won for Best Musical or Comedy Score. Also on there is Germaine Franco, the first female composer to be hired by Dreamworks, and Pinar Toprak, the first to be hired to score a film for the Marvel cinematic universe. They have collaborated with the likes of Stanely Kubrick, Martin Scorsese and Hans Zimmer, and are bucking the trend. 

The good news is that these gender ratios improve (across the board) for independent films and even more so where a film has at least one female director. More reasons to love and support indie cinema!

Debbie Aitken, Glasgow Film Festival Manager

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