Academy launches black British composer development program – The Hollywood Reporter
Film composition has always been one of the least diverse professions in the industry, but the Academy is launching a new program to fill the gap.
The organization has partnered with Mercury Studios, which has offices in London and Los Angeles, to launch the Jonas Gwangwa Music Composition Initiative, a year-long development program for UK-based black musicians who are interested in a career as a film composer.
“This initiative aims to correct an imbalance. Unlike the major contributions black musicians make to the music industry in the UK, their presence in the UK film industry is significantly lacking,” said UK-based Academy Fellow Gary Yershon (branch music), Misan Sagay (writers branch) and Nainita Desai (music branch), who spearheaded the creation of the initiative, in a statement. “Through this scheme, we seek to build community among black artists in the UK by highlighting opportunities to bridge film and music careers.”
During their year in the program, participants will receive one-on-one mentorship from a member of the Academy’s Music Branch, have access to Academy screenings and other events in London, and meet members of the Academy of various branches as well as practitioners of all film. the music industry (e.g. agents, music supervisors, orchestra managers, recording studio personnel, music publishers, publicists) to gain a better understanding of film and the business. Plus, each entrant will be paired with a filmmaker to score the short film they’re making, courtesy of grants from Mercury Studios and Decca Records. Abbey Road Studios will provide additional programming and support.
Artists and composers who have worked as musicians for at least three years are invited to apply on the Academy’s website before the July 29 deadline. In mid-August, a jury of music industry professionals will select a shortlist of 10 finalists, who will have approximately one month to compose a short film. The first two participants will be chosen at the end of September and must be available to attend an in-person event in London in early October to launch the programme.
The initiative is part of the Academy’s Aperture 2025, continuing its A2020 efforts to diversify the organization as well as the film industry it honors. Its namesake, Jonas Gwangwa, was the late South African jazz musician and composer who shared Oscar nominations for Original Score and Original Song for their work on 1987. Cry out for freedom. He died in 2021.