The film scoring community continues to find new ways to support emerging composers — especially women and people of color — to the tune of more than $100,000 annually, according to announcements this week by Reel Change: The Fund for Diversity in Film Scoring and the Society of Composers & Lyricists.
Reel Change, a project of SESAC and composer Christophe Beck (“WandaVision”) and administered by New Music USA, has announced the first four recipients of grants averaging $20,000 each for “film projects currently in production, providing additional funding and mentoring to assist composers at a pivotal moment in their careers.”
They are Sultana Isham, a New Orleans-based violinist and ethnomusicologist working on “The Neutral Ground,” a documentary about the removal of Confederate monuments to air on PBS; Cali Wang, Taipei-raised “best score” winner at the L.A. Live Score Film Festival, for “The Island of Lost Girls”; Emer Kinsella, Dublin-born composer (“Sense8”) currently scoring “She The Creator”; and Daniel Jimenez Afanador, Colombian-born composer and educator scoring the animated short “Demi NYC.” (Pictured above, left to right, are Wang, Isham and Kinsella.)
Said Erin Collins, SESAC’s VP of film, television and developing media: “Christophe Beck and I knew that something needed to be done to solve the problem of underrepresented voices in the world of film scoring. When we suggested this project, SESAC chairman and CEO John Josephson immediately agreed and approved $1 million towards the effort. We’re excited to hear fresh, innovative scores that more accurately represent the world we live in, and can’t wait to see these composers smash through the glass ceiling.”
The five-year fund, established in 2020, accepts applications from U.S.-based composers. Grants cover expenses including composer compensation, musician fees, recording and sound mastering fees, studio costs, orchestration, production equipment and more.
The advisory board that reviews applications and offers mentoring, in addition to Beck, is itself a diverse collection of working composers including Jongnic Bontemps, Kris Bowers, Miriam Cutler, Chanda Dancy, Tony Morales and Pinar Toprak.
Meanwhile, the Society of Composers & Lyricists has joined forces with the Film Scoring Academy of Europe to offer a scholarship to enable an aspiring film composer to attend FSAE as a candidate for its Master of Fine Arts degree in Music for Motion Pictures and Contemporary Media.
The SCL scholar will receive financial aid equal to 50% of tuition cost for the one-year program, currently 17,200 Euros, or $20,735, based on “artistic promise and financial need,” with adjudication overseen by a panel from both the SCL and FSAE senior faculty. The first such recipient, to be announced shortly, will attend the Bulgaria-based FSAE beginning in September.