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Home » Electronic Media Services » Sidelining in Motion Picture Films

Sidelining in Motion Picture Films


by Matt Allen, AFM Electronic Media Services Division Contract Administrator

In films produced all across the United States and Canada, musicians are regularly employed by film producers for sideline work. Sidelining is when a musician is engaged to “mime” the playing of an instrument on camera, typically to a prerecording that is played back on the set.

In some instances, a musician will record his or her audio performance while being filmed. This requires an additional recording scale payment, on top of the on-camera sideline payment. When 10 or more musicians are employed, including a leader, for a sideline engagement, a contractor must also be employed. The contractor may be one of the sideline musicians.

The contractor must be physically present at all sessions to ensure all musical activities conform to the agreement. If a musician is offered sideline employment by a film producer, it is important to first find out if the producer is signatory to the AFM for the motion picture. The AFM can assist with this.

When the musician B-7 (see table on page 14) session report forms are filed at an AFM local, be sure to also file copies of the B-7 with the Film Musicians Secondary Markets Fund (FMSMF). This ensures that the FMSMF has the appropriate documentation on file to credit all participating musicians for any secondary market distribution. Also, please file a copy of the B-7 with the AFM EMSD office for our records. (Note: when submitting session report forms electronically, the email must be encrypted to protect the musicians’ personal and sensitive information.)

Filmmakers with smaller budgets, both professional and student, regularly employ live scoring musicians to create soundtracks for their films. For films whose final budgets are $2 million and under, the AFM has an Independent Film/Festival Film Agreement. The Independent Film/Festival Film Agreement allows for commercial release, as well as release in festivals. For more information about this agreement, please contact the AFM EMSD office.

Current theatrical motion picture or TV film scale summaries, for both instrumentalists and music prep musicians, are posted on under the “Our Musicians” tab. You do not need to log in to access the posted scales. Theatrical motion picture and TV film signatory documents are available upon request from the AFM EMSD office.

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