“I wonder what BMI composers are doing tonight?” joked one of the presenters at the 30th annual ASCAP Film and Television Music Awards, held Monday night at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles.
The night’s biggest honor went to film composer Elliot Goldenthal, who received the ASCAP Founders Award. Goldenthal’s win was commemorated with video messages from his collaborators, including Salma Hayek, who worked with him on 2002’s “Frida,” for which Goldenthal won an Academy Award; Julie Taymor, Goldenthal’s partner and director of “The Tempest” and “Across the Universe,” just a few of the films on which they worked together; and Neil Jordan, who worked with Goldenthal on “Michael Collins” and “The Butcher Boy.”
Director Michael Mann presented Goldenthal with the award, speaking warmly of their work together on such films as “Heat” and “Public Enemies.” “Elliot looks into an actor’s eyes; he externalizes what’s there. He makes it tactile, and can make it sensual,” Mann said.
Female composer Deborah Lurie was honored with the ASCAP Shirley Walker Award, which honors diversity in the field — gender, in this case. Lurie is known for her work on films ranging from “Katy Perry: Part of Me” to “Much Ado About Nothing.” Joss Whedon, director of “Much Ado,” congratulated Lurie via video message, calling her “a maverick.”
Lurie used her acceptance speech as a platform to acknowledge the lack of women working in the film and television scoring realm. “The ratio of women to men film composers has been a hot topic lately,” Lurie said. “Tonight I’m so proud to be part of the ASCAP way of addressing the issue, which is to celebrate the successes, and to give women like me who love their career a chance to say, ‘Come join me.’ If we want more women film composers, we need more aspiring women film composers, and I think that comes from making it look like a great idea and not a political issue.”
Additional honors were doled out through the night, interspersed with musical performances and lively chatter among the congenial artists. Jóhann Jóhannsson’s score for “The Theory of Everything” took home the award for 2014 Film Score of the Year, while the Composers’ Choice Award for 2014 TV Composer of the Year went to Sean Callery (“Bones,” “Elementary,” “Homeland”).
This year marked the inaugural presentation of the Composers’ Choice Award for 2014 Video Game Score of the Year, which went to Austin Wintory for his score from “The Banner Saga.”
Around 100 additional composers were honored for their work over the night, with several of the artists winning multiple awards for having completed many projects. This phenomenon spoke to the fact that many television composers are busy scoring multiple shows in a year; Bear McCreary, for example, won awards for five different shows (“Black Sails,” “Defiance,” “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” “Outlander” and “The Walking Dead”).
Film and television music was recognized not only with plaques and trophies, but also through live performances of some of the year’s best work. Shawn Patterson opened the show with his “Lego Movie” anthem, “Everything Is Awesome,” his acoustic guitar-accompanied rendition a far cry from the pandemonium of the Lonely Island’s performance of the song at the Academy Awards last month. Acoustic guitars had even more of a moment later in the evening, when songwriters Dave Kushner, Curtis Stigers and Bob Thiele performing a gritty version of their theme to “Sons of Anarchy.”
Paul Williams, ASCAP president and chairman, announced that the company’s 2014 results made ASCAP the first-ever annual PRO to take in $1 billion in revenue. He also urged his fellow songwriters to advocate for a serious update to music licensing laws.
(Pictured: ASCAP President Paul Williams (L) and director Michael Mann (R) honor composer Elliot Goldenthal on stage at the 30th Annual ASCAP Film & Television Music Awards at The Beverly Hilton Hotel.)