Columbia's Kubilay Uner to Join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

PhotoKubilay Uner at work. Photo by Erielle Bakkum.
Kubilay Uner leads Columbia’s Music Composition for the Screen program, which has been ranked the best in the world by “The Hollywood Reporter.”

Some emails you don’t want to miss. Associate Professor Kubilay Uner, director of Columbia College Chicago’s top-rated Music Composition for the Screen program, just received one of those emails.

It was from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, inviting him to join the 97-year-old organization that comprises film industry artists and leaders from around the globe. Not only do Academy members select Oscar nominees and winners, they preserve film history, inspire young artists, and create opportunities for underrepresented communities to engage with the film world. 

The email came while Uner was in a mixing session with his Semester in LA students.  

“I was in the best possible place to receive the news,” Uner says. “We were mixing our thesis session in the studio of 4x-Oscar-nominee Dennis Sands, who is one of the absolute legends of film music mixing. Just look at Dennis Sands'credits [e.g., “Avengers: End Game,” “Polar Express,” “Cast Away”], and you'll see why that felt like the perfect place to be sitting when you get invited into the Academy.” 

The email followed a process by which Uner was recommended for membership into the Academy’s music branch by two sponsors. These music peers then presented their case for Uner’s membership to a committee and highlighted Uner’s work, which includes composing scores for the Al Pacino historical drama “American Traitor: The Trial of Axis Sally”; the Mel Gibson action film “Force of Nature”; the Lionsgate Western "Gone Are the Days" starring Lance Henriksen, Tom Berenger and Danny Trejo; and "Big Sur," based on Jack Kerouac's novel. Uner also leads Columbia’s Music Composition for the Screen program, which “The Hollywood Reporter” currently ranks the best in the world.  

Uner joins 486 other new members, a class that includes actresses Lily Gladstone and Catherine O’Hara and composers Jo Yeong-wook (‘Decision to Leave’) and Dan Wilson (‘American Symphony’). The Academy also asked Columbia Alum Caryn Capotosto ’99 a documentary filmmaker, to join its ranks. 

An invitation to join the Academy is a great honor and truly validating, according to Uner.  

“There is something about being recognized by the people who do exactly what you do that is, in many ways for me, the most meaningful,” he says. “And to be invited into this branch, which is several hundred people at the top of our craft, and for them to say, ‘we think you belong here.’ That to me is, it's just like a shot in the arm.”