In addition to organizing and contract administration, engaging local and state legislatures remains an important pathway toward job security. This month, I want to begin reporting nationally on outstanding accomplishments made by local leaders and members who organize legislatively and politically to help secure the jobs and futures of our members and their families.
AFM Local 47 (Los Angeles, CA) has been on a parallel path with federal legislative efforts to stem the tide of offshoring the sound scoring jobs. As the AFM National Legislative Office works with members of Congress to reform tax extender legislation focused on the film industry, Local 47 officers and members have successfully accomplished new state tax credit legislation designed to close loopholes in current law. The work of Local 47 and its coalition has been relentless and highly effective. The issue of runaway production is one that affects many AFM members and we commend Local 47 President John Acosta and all Local 47 officers and members for their tireless efforts. The following text from a Local 47 press release outlines their progress.
LOS ANGELES, CA (MARCH 30, 2015) — Thousands of California musicians suffering from the effects of runaway production are encouraged by a new bill that aims to close loopholes relating to music scoring in the California Film and Television Job Retention Act.
AB 1199, authored by Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian, introduces language that would, for the first time, require a specified amount of the total expenditures relating to music post-production be done in California in order for a production to qualify for an added rebate. Musicians applaud this preliminary language as a significant step in the right direction, and are optimistic that further development of the bill will continue to improve upon the existing tax credit program as it relates to music scoring in California.
These initial proposals come as a result of significant inroads made by members of AFM Local 47, representing more than 7,000 Los Angeles musicians. The Local 47 political committee, which includes President John Acosta and rank-and-file members, has been working with Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s office and local legislators, including Nazarian, to continue efforts to amend California’s Film & Television Tax Credit Program in conjunction with the interests of musicians in the state.
Amended last September by AB 1839, the existing tax incentive program—which awards $330 million annually—offers a 20% credit on qualified expenses up to $100 million for feature films and television shows, and a 25% credit for relocated TV series and independent films. The law allows for an additional 5% credit of qualified expenditures when an unspecified portion of the music scoring and music-track recording by musicians is done in California. AB 1199 would for the first time require that a minimum of 75%, or an expenditure of $100,000, for music scoring and track-recording be done in-state for productions to qualify for the added credit, similar to a requirement for visual effects implemented by AB 1839.
While the current program does include an added bonus for post-production work done in-state, it does not make doing this work in California a requirement, and productions still receive significant credits, even if all post-production is done out of state. Musicians are happy that AB 1199 furthers continued efforts to ensure those production companies that benefit from California’s $330 million annual tax credit program are made accountable to hold professional musicians to the same industry standard as actors, writers, directors, grips, carpenters, drivers, and other industry workers.
“The magic of movies is remembered by the music,” says Nazarian. “When ‘Jaws’ roars onto the screen, it’s the music that flutters your heart. We need to support our homegrown talent in Los Angeles. This tax credit will ensure the creation and production of our musical magic remains and thrives in Los Angeles.”
AB 1199 is endorsed by all AFM locals in California through the California Conference, which comprises Locals 47, 353 (Long Beach, CA), 308 (Santa Barbara, CA), 7 (Orange County, CA), 325 (San Diego, CA), 6 (San Francisco, CA), 12 (Sacramento, CA), 424 (Richmond, CA), and 189 (Stockton, CA). To date, our quickly growing list of supporters also includes The Recording Academy (Los Angeles and San Francisco chapters), The Society of Composers & Lyricists, UFCW Local 770, American Society of Music Arrangers and Composers.
In a recent communication, Local 47 President Acosta indicated that, on May 18, Locals 6, 12, 47, and 50 came together to get AB1199 through the Committee on Tax & Revenue. The bill passed unanimously. See the article in the Hollywood Reporter.
In the coming months, I will report on other legislative work being done across the country on behalf of our musicians. We thank each of our locals for their attention to this work as we strive to build a solid legislative and political foundation in states across the country.