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California lawmakers work to keep film scoring work in the state




Mark Watters and the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra prepare for another go at the score for 'Poor Papa.'
Mark Watters and the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra prepare for another go at the score for 'Poor Papa.'
Cameron Kell/KPCC

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We’ve talked a fair amount on this show about how other states and countries give movie and TV producers rich rebates and tax credits to leave California. The Golden State just tripled its incentives to keep production in California.

But there’s another crucial part of movie magic that is increasingly leaving Hollywood: film and TV music scoring.

The Frame’s John Horn spoke with lawyer and journalist Jonathan Handel to find out more about how film scoring work is leaving California.

Interview Highlights

What is runaway composing?

“What the musicians union has been hearing — or feeling the pinch of — is that a lot of scoring of movies, and some TV shows as well, I think, has moved overseas. And that means a loss of jobs here in Los Angeles.”

So what are the musicians trying to do?

“Well the musicians are trying to bring work back to the U.S., and they’re doing it in two ways. One is that the parent union, the American Federation of Musicians, has filed lawsuits against multiple studios alleging that they are in breach of contract on the collective bargaining agreements, the union agreements. Because of the fact that they’ve been scoring overseas, and also they say that they’ve been reusing existing music excessively in violation of contract.

"The other prong is that Local 47, the Los Angeles local of that union, has introduced a bill in the Assembly — and it passed the Assembly, it’s moved to the Senate — that would increase tax incentives for producers if they score in California.”

This bill (AB 1199) was authored by a Democratic assemblyman from Van Nuys, Adrin Nazarian. What is the status of the bill, and what are its chances?

“Well it passed the Assembly, and now it moves to the Senate, where my understanding is that it’s going to face a somewhat tougher row perhaps. But the bill is revenue neutral — it does not increase the total amount of California tax incentives. So given that fact, it doesn’t affect the overall budget, and there may be a shot at passage.”



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