The livelihoods of Hollywood musicians have long been under siege as major movie and TV productions continue to outsource scoring to other states as well as abroad.
Local instrumentalists have tried pressuring the major studios to bring more scoring back to Los Angeles and many are backing a new state bill from Assembly Majority Leader Ian Calderon (D-Whittier) that would increase tax credits doled out to movie productions that choose to do their music scoring in California.
On Saturday, musicians will step up their protest by staging a free concert at L.A. City Hall, starting at 10:30 a.m. The event is designed to raise awareness of the state bill and bring attention to the issue of runaway scoring.
Among the musicians scheduled to perform is Rickey Minor, who worked as the bandleader on NBC’s “The Tonight Show” until 2014, when the show decamped from Burbank and moved to New York.
L.A. is losing a significant number of scoring jobs to Britain, as well as to New York, according to John Acosta, president of AFM Local 47, the union that represents professional musicians in the L.A. area.
In recent years, the union has organized rallies against Marvel Studios for hiring British musicians to work on movies such as "Iron Man 3" and “The Avengers,” even though those films were shot in the United States.
Movies in “The Hunger Games” and “Twilight” franchises were also scored in Britain.
The new bill proposes new tax incentives designed to encourage productions to do their scoring locally. “Tax credits aren't always the most popular thing to get through the Legislature,” Acosta said. “But this is a jobs-producing bill.”
AB 1300, which is expected to be up for vote next year, calls for a 30% credit to offset scoring expenses for movies shot outside of North America employing 35 or more musicians and completing at least 75% of the scoring in California. It also features an incentive for lower budget projects costing $5 million or lower.
To fund the initiative, the bill proposes reallocating previously dedicated credits from the state’s revised film and TV tax credit program that went into effect two years ago.
For local musicians, movies provide a more stable source of income than TV, according to Marc Sazer, an L.A.-based violinist.
“TV doesn't provide a middle-class livelihood for musicians,” he said, noting that series don’t typically hire as many instrumentalists as major studio films.
“Music scoring for motion pictures is really where the jobs are for musicians,” he said, “and that's not happening in L.A.”