The creative talent of New York recording musicians was promoted in a full-page ad that appeared in the Hollywood Reporter on Nov. 5. It was an initiative of the New York chapter of the Recording Musicians Association – which, with Local 802’s support, is planning a series of five advertisements aimed at attracting more film recording projects to the New York City area.
The goal is twofold, said RMA-NY President Dominic Derasse. “First of all, we want to put New York on the map as a location for producing quality recordings for films – because a lot of people just don’t associate New York with film recording.” And secondly, the ads are part of a national campaign to reverse the runaway production that has taken so much film work out of the country. “The Los Angeles local has been running ads in the Hollywood Reporter for some time,” Derasse told Allegro, “and we wanted to play a role in the campaign.” He said the response from people who have seen the ad has been very positive.
The industry has been devastated by a flow of work to Canada and Mexico – part of the loss of jobs in the United States caused by the passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) several years ago. The Hollywood Fair Trade Campaign, a coalition which has developed on the West Coast, charges that the studios have turned their backs on their own community and engaged in the wholesale destruction of the Hollywood jobs base.
That has an impact on jobs in New York, notes Jay Schaffner, Assistant Supervisor of Local 802’s Recording Department. “In the past, a lot of scoring was done here because the scoring stages in Los Angeles were overbooked. Now, with the Hollywood facilities generally available, that isn’t happening. And the same cost factors that have led the studios to send work abroad, rather than recording in Los Angeles, affect us as well.”
The number of contracts filed for theatrical film and TV film recording jobs over the last three years reflect a sharp drop in work available for New York recording musicians. “In 1997, the Recording Department processed 53 contracts for theatrical films and 34 for television films,” Schaffner said. “In 1998 the figures were somewhat lower: 48 theatrical films, and 26 TV films. But the problems really hit this year. In the first ten months of this year, only 17 contracts for theatrical films were filed, and eight contracts for television.”
Derasse pointed out that film production, which had been increasing in New York since the early ’90s, “dropped in a big way in 1999, for the first time.” However, he said, it appears that television work is up. “And that’s another thing that we’re trying to look into – to make sure that whatever music is done for those TV shows hopefully is being done under contract with 802.”