Canadian composer Lesley Barber (Manchester by the Sea) started work on the new Emma Thompson-Mindy Kaling comedy Late Night before shooting. Director Nisha Ganatra needed a theme for Thompson’s failing evening talk show! In this Variety story, Barber explains how she “pretended I was Paul Shaffer” to come up with a winning tune, and then spun that into the basis for much of the underscore.
It was a pleasure to moderate a panel at Friday’s ASCAP “I Create Music” Expo at the Loews Hollywood Hotel. The topic was “Women in Film Music” and the panelists included composers Lesley Barber (Manchester by the Sea), Stephanie Economou (The Zookeeper’s Wife), Carly Paradis (Line of Duty) and Pinar Toprak (The Lightkeepers). ASCAP’s Rachel Perkins also introduced Lolita Ritmanis of the Alliance for Women Film Composers and Tracy McKnight of Women in Film, who kicked off the discussion about the expanding profile of female composers for film, TV and games. It was a stimulating hour with these thoughtful, remarkable women and I was honored to be on stage with them.
One of the most significant developments in the music community this year has been the advancement of women composers active in the visual media. For the lead story in this week’s special Contenders edition of Variety, I interviewed four composers with films opening in the last quarter — Anne Dudley (Elle), Lesley Barber (Manchester by the Sea), Mica Levi (Jackie) and Heather McIntosh (Rainbow Time), at least two of whom may well be up for honors during the coming awards season. I also report the shocking statistics about female composers scoring studio films; and interviewed composer and new Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences governor Laura Karpman and leading music supervisor Tracy McKnight about the strides being made, and what still needs to be accomplished in order to even out the playing field.
I’ve written a lot over the past year about women composers in Hollywood. Let’s not forget the ones who are contributing great work to film, but aren’t in L.A.! One of the year’s most riveting and powerful films is Manchester by the Sea, and for a story in this week’s Variety I interviewed both Toronto-based composer Lesley Barber and director Kenneth Lonergan. Lonergan, who previously worked with Barber on You Can Count on Me, offered some fascinating insights, and Barber revealed some especially interesting, family-related details about the voices we hear in her score.