For some reason it took DreamWorks Animation Studios until the latter part of the first quarter of the 21st century to employ a woman to write the score for one of their films. Happily, they picked an Irishwoman to do it. Originally from Ballinasloe and now based in LA, Amie Doherty has written the score for Spirit Untamed, which opens in Irish cinemas today. Amie had a fabulously fun conversation with Oliver Callan on The Ryan Tubridy Show, and began by telling him that she comes from a musical family:

"I grew up playing piano and my brother played the drums and my sister played the piano as well and also the flute and Noel played the guitar. Sure, we kind of play anything we pick up."

Noel had a drumkit in his room and Amie had a piano in hers and they would jam through the wall. God help the neighbours – but their sacrifice has not been in vain: did I mention that Amie is the first woman ever to score a DreamWorks film? Although she grew up loving the music from classic Disney films like Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin – scored by Alan Menken, "who's a god" – Amie didn’t expect to become a composer of film music, but she did know that she wanted to earn her living with music:

"Honestly, I had never thought, 'Oh, I’ll do that as a career.’ I always knew growing up I would do something in music, or somehow figure out how to pay the bills with music, but I knew that I didn’t want to be a performer. So film music just kind of made sense as kind of the one very focused passion that I had."

Film music – indeed, the entire film industry – is a very male-oriented area. Amie told Oliver that only 2-3% of composers working on studio films are women. There are some signs that it’s changing and, let’s hope, a woman scoring a DreamWorks animated feature will not be an uncommon happening in the future.

"It’s so lovely to be the first female to score a DreamWorks film, but hopefully in a few years’ time it’s not a thing anymore."

After getting her MA in Film Scoring in Spain, Amie made her way to Los Angeles, where she worked in Orchestration on John Legend’s world tour. Then she was hired as the orchestrator on the new Star Trek series, Discovery and Picard. There followed a plethora of high-profile shows, like Fargo, The Umbrella Academy and Altered Carbon. But Spirit Untamed is her first film as a composer. It’s a sequel to Spirit, the music to which was composed by no less than Hans Zimmer.

"Yeah, no pressure, huh? Pressure is for tyres. No, that was definitely – you know, when I got the gig, I just had to put that out of my head because, you know, trying to follow up and step into Hans Zimmer’s shoes is just unthinkable."

Amie’s first job on Spirit Untamed was to write the theme song, the one that, as Oliver says, every kid will make sure is played until the lyrics are burned into their parents’ memories. The only problem was that Amie had never written songs before. Coming up with the melody was no problem, but lyrics were not, she insisted, in her repertoire. "Just put something in as a placeholder," Universal told her, "and we’ll get some lyricists to write the real lyrics."

"I said, ‘Grand!’ Like I had a good gist of what they’re looking for. Threw in the placeholder lyrics, very embarrassingly recorded myself singing it – I sound like some sort of Irish chipmunk Mary Poppins – and sent it over to them, thinking it was just for the director to hear and they blasted it out to the whole of DreamWorks and Universal."

You can hear the full, very entertaining, chat between Oliver and Amie Doherty – including what it's like working with Jake Gyllenhaall – by going here.

Spirit Untamed is released in Ireland on Friday 30 July.