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August 02, 2016

Evening the Score

Alliance seeks a higher profile for women composers.

Nicole Pajer
  • Julia Newmann, Laura Karpman, Lolita Ritmanis

    Alliance for Women Film Composers

A recent study revealed that women composers score only 2 percent of the 250 top-grossing box-office films.

While a similar study hasn’t been commissioned for television, the consensus is that the numbers are equally low.

The Alliance for Women Film Composers is on a mission to change that. Since its inception two years ago, AWFC has been helping women land scoring gigs while it campaigns for recognition of their work.

The alliance maintains a database of the professional accomplishments of its members and seeks to connect them with directors. It also works to get their music performed at local concerts and to place women alongside their male counterparts on industry panels.

The behind-the-scenes efforts make a difference, says AWFC president Laura Karpman. “It’s about going into a meeting at Fox and saying, ‘If you have a fantastic script and are looking for a woman composer, I can put 30 people in a room with any director.’”

AWFC board member Lolita Ritmanis — Primetime Emmy–nominated for Cartoon Network’s Batman: The Brave and the Bold and Justice League — has benefited from the group’s efforts.

Last year, when Karpman heard that the Golden State Pops Orchestra was hosting a superhero soundtracks concert, she picked up the phone and landed several pieces of Ritmanis’s music in the show.

“I had a little girl come up to me during intermission and say, ‘I want to do what you do — I didn’t know girls could do that kind of thing,’” Ritmanis recounts. “It was pretty powerful.”

And since joining last year, Julia Newmann, who writes music for Fox’s Bones, enjoys the camaraderie of the group. “Just seeing other women do well invigorates us,” she says. Going forward, Karpman — who recently contributed music to WGN America’s Underground — hopes her initiative will eventually change the status quo.

“We want the alliance to grow bigger than you could possibly imagine in five years,” she says. “And then we want to be gone. We don’t want to have to be talking about this in 10 years!”


This article originally appeared in emmy magazine, Issue No. 5, 2016

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