The Caped Crusaders Composers: Lolita Ritmanis - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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The Caped Crusaders Composers: Lolita Ritmanis

Chris Morley gets animated.
As we head into the finale of our look at the many composers to have graced Batman in all on-screen forms, it seems only fitting that we sign off with one last look at the perhaps surprisingly progressive legacy of the animated series. Lolita Ritmanis, the daughter of Latvian immigrant parents to America, began her studies at Cleveland High School & the Dick Grove School of Music before moving on to Disney & Warner Brothers. Initially working as an orchestrator for composers including Michael Kamen, Eliott Goldenthal & Shirley Walker, from the Bat-pantheon among others, in 2007 she launched Dynamic Music Partners with two fellow alumni, Kristopher Carter & Michael McCuistion.

Speaking to Heavyocity, she said of her early career that...
“I began composing at a very early age. Growing up in Portland, Oregon, in a very musical family, I began taking piano lessons at about age 5, and “made up” my own little compositions shortly thereafter. I composed songs at first, and moved on to composing for larger ensembles by the time I was in high school.

Coming from a Latvian family (my parents emigrated to the United States from Latvia after Word War II,) Latvian cultural activities were prevalent throughout my youth and continue to be an integral part of my life to this day. These activities often included large festivals, with opportunities to perform as well as compose and produce original music.

Composing for an array of ensembles, as well as receiving commissions for new works provide me with great motivation to compose.

Throughout my teen years playing the piano in the jazz band, flute in orchestra, singing in choirs, and performing in musicals were like breathing to me. Music was a huge part of my life. “
Ritmanis also served as co-founder of the Alliance for Women Film Composers alongside Miriam Cutler & Laura Karpman in 2007. A Variety report would highlight just how that was needed.
“Diversity in Hollywood is a big topic these days. But consider the plight of the female composer: Over the past three years, only 1% to 2% of composers working on the top 250 films at the box office were women.

Those numbers, according to the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film, are worse than those for any other below-the-line craft. In 2014, women supervising sound editors were at 5%, cinematographers at 5%, and directors at 7%.

Martha Lauzen, who compiles these statistics at San Diego State University, calls the numbers “shockingly low.” She suspects that “the same mechanisms that suppress the numbers of women directors and cinematographers, such as gender stereotypes and expectations, also limit the numbers of women composers. What do we expect composers to look like?”

Ritmanis was invited onto the team for the Batman animated series by Shirley Walker, and would give an insight into the process of creating music for animation in the same Heavyocity piece.
“When I received my first Emmy Award nomination, it was for an episode of Superman: The Animated Series. I was so proud of that score. I do not think anyone listening would be able to say “oh, that is a score for an animated TV series.”

That show was epic in scope, as was Justice League: The Animated Series, and many other series that I have worked on. There really is not a different approach. It comes down to the story, and the story arc.

The storytelling arcs are usually longer in live action versus animation. In animation, of course all the sound you are hearing is created. There is no live sound. So, with that in mind the producer can create his or her sonic environment to be anything within the scope of their imagination.

Sometimes something as simple as a room tone can be problematic for the composer who has been working with a cut without any sound other than dialogue, if there have not been conversations ahead of time. If, for example the key centre for the music is Bb but the air conditioner hum is humming in B natural, well that could be problematic!

Composing music to picture is all about collaboration with the creative visionary behind the project.”

Equally important to her is her ongoing work on gender parity. Interviewed by Picture This Post, she said...
“Being a woman of course is one aspect of my identity. It is only one aspect of who I am, but I believe that the opportunity to present a human perspective should mirror the gender ratio in our society, closer to 50/50.

It is not that every woman has some sort of specific female perspective, but societally we should embrace amplifying the perspectives of artists of diverse backgrounds with a focus toward equally representing those perspectives. We are a tapestry of many voices. “
And the work is ongoing.
“I do see progress. More and more women are scoring independent films, TV series, games. The top grossing feature films have a long way to go toward gender parity. The momentum however cannot be stopped. Women composers are rising in the ranks and are beginning to chip away at the barriers that have been in place for a long time.

It is only a matter of time before discussions about gender parity will be a thing of the past. Mentoring women who are beginning to carve out careers in this field, as well as amplifying the work of already successful women in the world of film scoring is making a difference.

It is not only the twenty-year-olds, fresh out of college whom we must amplify and celebrate. We must also fight against ageism in our field and lift up the women who have been stuck in the middle without opportunities to advance to higher profile projects. “

The Batcave serving as a hub for change in a fitting appraisal of the ever-changing musical landscape of Batman itself.

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