Backbeat: BMI's Doreen Ringer-Ross Convenes Women Film & TV Composers, Hints at High Hopes

Pictured at BMI’s headquarters in Los Angeles are, back row, from left: Lisbeth Scott, Penka Kouneva, Haley Moss, Starr Parodi, Andrea Saparoff, BMI’s Anne Cecere, The Angel, Laura Karpman, Miriam Cutler, BMI's Doreen Ringer-Ross, Lolita Ritmanis, Pinar Toprak, Kathryn Bostic, Barbara Cohen, BMI's Lisa Feldman and Kristin Baum – Front row, from left: Claudia Sarne, Deborah Lurie, Suzie Katayama, Heather McIntosh, Ronit Kirchman, Lili Haydn, Wendy Melvoin, BMI's Reema Iqbal, Lisa Kanclerz Coleman and Nan Schwartz (Diana Buendia)

After a trip to International Film Festival of Cordoba, where she spoke on a panel -- "A Feminine Take on Music for Film" -- with Rachel Portman and Miriam Cutler, BMI’s Doreen Ringer-Ross thought it would be a good idea to revisit the topic of the panel back home.
 
Ordinarily, Ringer-Ross, who heads BMI Film and TV Music operations in Los Angeles, would shy from the “queasy feeling” subject of women in composing. But she saw an opportunity to bring together a couple dozen women with various jobs in composing for film and television.
 
“We went around the (BMI conference) room and went over the background of everyone,” Ringer-Ross says other gathering that included BMI and ASCAP writers. “They were so eclectic. Everyone had a point of view and when it got real, it was not about the political (aspects of the business), but the personal stories -- juggling a family, dealing with sexualization when you present yourself, finding mentors.”
 
Cutler, the Angel, Wendy Melvoin, Lisa Kanclerz Coleman. Deborah Lurie and Lili Haydn were among the composers who attended the daytime event that was staged agenda-free. It led to the women, by and large, celebrating how far they have come in the male-dominated industry and have begun to mentor a new generation of young female composers.
 
Ringer-Ross estimates that in every college class where she guest lectures, the ratio of men to women is about 6 to 1. “There are still very few who gravitate toward film and TV composing,” she says, “so my question is why?
 
“One topic we talked about was how to support a place that gets women to gravitate toward the field. A good number of them went through the composers lab at Sundance. It proves that an affirmative action idea pays off in time.”  
 
Enthusiasm for the event has Ringer-Ross confident they will hold a second gathering, one that would likely see female film music executives and music supervisors invited.
 
“We want people who want to be supportive of other women in this business,” Ringer-Ross says.