Work for Los Angeles studio musicians continues to decline as production companies find cheaper alternatives elsewhere, so musicians’ union executives are backing California legislation designed to provide financial incentives to return film- and TV-scoring jobs back to Hollywood.
Assembly Bill 1300, the “Music Scoring Tax Credit Bill,” recently introduced by Assembly Majority Leader Ian Calderon, would offer a 30 percent tax credit to U.S. productions made in foreign countries, as well as for low-budget films, that use California musicians. Union officials believe that passage could mean millions in regained wages for studio players.
According to International Recording Musicians Association president Marc Sazer, L.A. musicians – who once routinely scored nearly all American movies – have lost substantial ground to London and other European venues. In 2003, nearly 60 percent of feature films were scored by American Federation of Musicians members; by 2015, that number was down to 30 percent.
In 2015, the most recent year for which statistics are available, 33 “major motion pictures” that opened wide were produced overseas, and only five of those were scored in the U.S., Sazer reports.
RMA provided Variety with a list of 2015 releases scored outside the U.S., five of which were among the year’s 25 top-grossing films (“Avengers: Age of Ultron,” “The Martian,” “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation,” “Mad Max: Fury Road” and “Kingsman: The Secret Service”) that, had they been scored here, would have generated wages and residuals totaling nearly $18 million.
These films, they argue, were “jobs and wages that could have been brought back” to L.A. if the proposed tax credits were already in place.
Production companies “follow tax-credit money to the U.K., to Spain, Hungary, wherever, and the scoring gets done in London (or elsewhere in Europe),” says Sazer. Adds AFM Local 47 president John Acosta: “Tax…