California may boast the largest film production numbers in the country, but worldwide, growth in foreign scoring on production spiked in the last 10 years away from the Golden State. Music scoring doesn’t typically require musicians to be on set for production, so producers often outsource this essential activity to Europe and other US states. California studio musicians have struggled to find work stateside as Europe took over 70% of scoring for feature films in 2015, up from just 40% in 2003. Major motion pictures such as “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” Mad Max: Fury Road” and other blockbuster movies provided almost $18 million in wages and residuals to musicians, all outside of the US. Feature films provide the most consistent work for musicians where television doesn’t provide as many opportunities. The scoring musicians union the American Federation of Musicians (AFM) has been fighting to bring those jobs back to California.
A 30% Tax Credit for In-state Production
To alleviate the loss of jobs, state assemblyman Ian Calderon introduced AB 1300 which sets aside funds from the current filming incentive program for productions using California musicians. AB 1300 provides a 30% credit for productions that employ 35 or more musicians and complete at least 75% of the score in California. Proponents of the bill argue that by creating this program, they can expect an additional $5 million in wages for musicians, which on a large production can provide between 100-130 jobs to local musicians, a significant amount given the volume of production in California. Essential to the benefits of the bill, studios are not required to film in the state, as the credit will be offered to productions made in foreign countries, provided they meet the scoring requirements in California, opening the benefits to a much larger pool of production. AFM created an awareness campaign for the bill and hopes that through a promotion with free outdoor concerts, they can persuade local constituents to support the bill that returns local scoring jobs to California.