Universal Filmed Entertainment Group’s (UFEG) Global Talent Development & Inclusion group has announced the eight finalists of the Universal Film Music Composer Initiative: DreamWorks Animation.

The inaugural initiative is designed to identify up-and-coming composers to create original scores for two DreamWorks Animation short films currently in production. The initiative also aims to identify and develop talent with a focus on underrepresented groups in the film music industry, as well as to increase awareness of new composers among executives, producers and directors.

The eight finalists will be provided creative, technical and financial support to create a “demo” recording of original music in connection with one of two assigned DreamWorks Animation short films for consideration and review by Film Music executives, DreamWorks Animation executives and short film directors.

Out of the finalists, one composer per short will be selected to receive a grant to refine their compositions and have the chance for their work to be fully executed at an orchestral scoring session.

After the final composers are selected, all finalists will have the opportunity to continue mentorship opportunities with Universal Film Music and/or DreamWorks Animation executives for a period of one year from the Initiative commencement date.  Composers will be able to engage in a range of activities designed to expose them to the multi-faceted scoring and production process, including feedback on their music, observing scoring sessions and attending meetings with executives from various UFEG divisions.

Composers selected to participate in the Film Music Composer Initiative are:

Jongnic Bontemps

Jongnic Bontemps, aka “JB”, is a classically trained composer with roots in the church and jazz world as a pianist.  Hailing from Brooklyn, New York, he studied music at Yale, Berkley and the University of Southern California.  He was selected as a Sundance Lab Composer Fellow in 2013 and received a Time Warner Artist Fellowship in 2014.  JB composed music for over 70 projects spanning Film, TV and Video Games.  His work has been heard in various award winning films at Cannes, Warsaw Film Festival, Pan African American Film Fest, American Black Film Fest, as well as networks like HBO, Netflix, Showtime, Lifetime, Tone, NBC, BET, Disney and cinemas worldwide.

Amie Doherty

Irish composer Amie Doherty works on a wide variety of film and television projects.  Her recent films include the upcoming Blue Night starring Sarah Jessica Parker and Renée Zellweger, Tribeca winner Keep The Change, and documentary Light In The Water. Amie also orchestrates and conducts the scores to many acclaimed TV series such as Star Trek: DiscoveryFargoCounterpart, and Legion.  Amie is an alumna of the Sundance Music & Sound Design Lab at Skywalker Sound, and was awarded the Sundance Institute/Time Warner Foundation Composer Fellowship in 2016.

Stephanie Economou

Stephanie Economou is a composer and violinist based in Los Angeles, CA.  Stephanie’s most notable work has been born from her composing apprenticeship with Golden Globe-nominated composer, Harry Gregson-Williams.  Stephanie holds credits as additional composer, orchestrator, and music arranger on Ridley Scott’s Oscar-winning film The Martian, Ben Affleck’s Live By Night, Niki Caro’s The Zookeeper’s Wife, Catherine Hardwicke’s Miss You Already and Rick Famuyiwa’s HBO drama Confirmation.  Most recently, she has composed additional music for the Australian drama Breath, the Warner Bros. upcoming action film, The Meg, and Sony’s The Equalizer 2 directed by Antoine Fuqua.  Stephanie has garnered professional experience as conductor and score reader at highly prestigious studios including Abbey Road Studios, Synchron Stage Vienna, Skywalker Sound, and Sony Pictures.

Layla Minoui

Layla Minoui is an Iranian-American composer for film and television based in Los Angeles.  She has amassed a diverse array of credits in both film and television. Her credits includes the original score for Disney Junior’s TV animation series Vampirina, returning for its second season.  She co-composed the music for two seasons of Bravo’s first scripted series Girlfriend’s Guide To Divorce, and has written additional music for several television series including seven seasons of ABC’s CastleThe GatesThe Family, as well as FOX’s Lie To Me.  Layla has scored music for several independent features including Elysium Bandini’s gothic drama The Mad Whale and comedy-thriller The Sound and the Shadow.  Her original score for The Mad Whale was nominated for the 2017 HMMA Awards: Best Original Score for an Independent Feature Film.

Orlando Perez Rosso

Originally from Ocaña, Colombia, Orlando Perez Rosso began his musical journey playing saxophone at the age of ten.  In 2008, Perez Rosso discovered his passion for film scoring after collaborating on the documentary Stolen Land, winner of the Best South American Documentary at the Havana International Film Festival.  In 2013, Perez Rosso relocated to Los Angeles to attend the Film Scoring program at UCLA Extension.  Upon graduation, Perez Rosso continued to collaborate with directors, producers and fellow composers in a wide array of film, television and advertising projects.  Some of these collaborations include working for composer Michael Abels in Jordan Peele’s Academy Award® winning film Get Out; orchestrating and co-arranging a cover of The Beatles’ While My Guitar Gently Weeps for the trailer of the Academy Award® nominated film Kubo and the Two Strings; and working for orchestrator Jeff Atmajian in several scoring projects for various composers such as Gabriel Yared and Rachel Portman.

George Shaw

Inspired by the melodies of John Williams, Alan Menken and Alan Silvestri, George, originally from Houston, Texas, studied classical and film/media composing at USC, becoming a musical storyteller who composes orchestral thematic music for film, television, musicals, video games, trailers, and online content.  YouTube videos featuring George’s music have amassed over 200 million views.  George co-wrote Ode to Geeks with Marvel Comics legend Stan Lee, composed for Geek & Sundry including Wil Wheaton’s popularTabletop show, scored 3 seasons of YouTube Red’s Escape the Night, music directed the Geekie Awards, and created the viral hit Star Wars Musical, which has nearly half a million views, followed up by Netflix Musical which stars Harry Shum Jr. and Chrissa Sparkles. George’s plans for world domination include earning an EGOT, becoming more famous than Irish-playwright George Bernard Shaw, and perfecting time travel.

Jermaine Stegall

Jermaine Stegall is a composer, conductor, and producer of film and television music.  In 2016, he was selected as a Sundance Music and Sound Design Fellow held at Skywalker Ranch, and has worked closely with some of Hollywood’s biggest composers including Danny Elfman, Christophe Beck, Marco Beltrami, Harry Gregson-Williams, Christopher Lennertz, Blake Neely, and The Outfit.  Jermaine has scored over 20 feature films, many of which have been released theatrically, and digitally worldwide including the theatrical release of Jamesy Boy directed by Oscar nominated producer Trevor White, and the teen comedy Mono directed by Jarrett Lee Conaway for Fox Digital Studios.  He has also written original and additional film and television music for such studios as Disney Channel, Warner Brothers, Lionsgate, Dimension Films, Fox Digital Studio, NBC Universal Television, CW Television, The SyFy Channel, and A&E Television.

Jessica Weiss

Jessica Weiss is a composer/songwriter born and raised in New York City.  She attended New York City’s Professional Children’s School and later attended Marymount Manhattan College where she majored in theatre and music and then continued on to The School of Audio Engineering to study music production/engineering. Jessica moved to London in 2011 and worked at De Lane Lea/Warner Brothers Studios. It was there that she was recruited by Hans Zimmer to work at Remote Control Productions in Los Angeles. Since then, she has worked on music for feature films, documentaries, television series, and ad campaigns for clients such as DreamWorks, Warner Brothers, Amazon TV, Mark Burnett Productions, 3QU Media and Youtube Red. Some of her past projects include writing additional music on the Netflix film Extinction for The Newton Brothers as well as scoring 3QU Media’s feature film Trouble, with score producer Mychael Danna and most recently scoring the television series Liza On Demand for YouTube Red.