BSE4BL's Afrika and Tamika Green talk about the need for more diversity in the film composing industry with their brother, Jamal
In this month’s article we speak to Bury St Edmunds-born film and game composer Jamal Green about his work and the need for more diversity in his industry.
The world of film composing is not as diverse as it should be. Jamal Green, 22, of mixed African American and White British heritage is going to change that.
He has recently celebrated the release of Skelattack, a game published by major Japanese game company Konami, and was one of six musicians of colour to be placed in the spotlight for Sony’s Black Music Month. He was among the likes of singer and film composer Labrinth, and Terence Blanchard, American composer and esteemed Jazz trumpeter.
Of the experience, Jamal said: “To be the face of Sony’s representation of black composers in a time when that representation has never been more important is what makes this one my proudest achievements.”
Jamal started composing at the age of 12, making music for Minecraft videos on Youtube at 14. He eventually went on to attend West Suffolk College where he made the most of the equipment that they had there.
“I stayed late every night and would sneak into college on my days off to use the snazzy equipment because no matter how many hours I did at my Frankie and Benny’s job, I wouldn’t have been able to afford the equipment myself,” he said.
Around this time, Jamal started writing music for mobile and computer games and he then went on to study Music Composition for Film and Games at the University of Hertfordshire, where he continued to write music for games alongside his studies, one of those games being Skelattack.
In 2019, Jamal scored an Indie film entitled Aberdeen (Van Til, 2019, USA), which is now available for streaming on American Amazon Prime.
However, despite his many successes, Jamal faces the reality that he needs resilience and determination to overcome this roadblock. He says that the film industry in general is not inviting to Black creatives due to lack of representation, an issue made evident by the Oscarssowhite hashtag created in 2015.
“I think seeing all-white casts make people think that there’s no place for people of colour in the teams that make movies.”
He believes that opportunities currently being given exclusively to the BAME community is a good way of getting people of colour the representation that they deserve. In this way, ethnic minorities can prove that they are just as capable as their white counterparts.
Jamal looks to the future and wants to continue to work on bigger and better projects. He wholeheartedly accepts the challenge of helping to diversify the industry and hopes to hear what other composers of colour can bring to film soundtracks.
Finally, Jamal thinks there is change on the horizon: “The game industry is leading the field, and I’ve seen so many black and brown composers flourish here, so it’s just about forcing change in the film industry now.”
Hard-working and talented individuals like Jamal make it possible to believe that creative industries will utilise and celebrate the work that people of colour can bring. With this, audiences will see films, TV shows and games bursting with creativity.
BSE4BL: Twitter, Instagram and Facebook – @BSE4BL
Jamal’s Twitter and Instagram: @JamalGreenMusic
Afrika’s Instagram @affygreen, Facebook: @afrikagreen
Tamika’s Instagram: @tamikagreen98, Twitter: @TamikaGreen1234
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