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January 1, 2024IM -
Bruce Dukov may be one of the most famous violinists you’ve never heard of. Behind the screen, in the world of film and TV music, he’s left an indelible mark. His virtuosic solo playing accompanied the comedic antics of Leslie Nielsen in the film Wrongfully Accused, and in Analyze This, he showcased an opulent solo with passages from Prokofiev’s 2nd Violin Concerto. Last month, Dukov, of Local 47 (Los Angeles, CA), reached a major milestone in his studio career, when he performed on his 1,900th theatrical motion picture score.
Dukov might have overlooked the event had he not kept track of his studio work. Since 1985, Dukov has carefully maintained a record of every theatrical motion picture session for which he’s recorded. He was surprised himself, saying, “The other day when I entered my latest session, I went to the very bottom and saw the number 1,899 and went, ‘Oh my god!’ Last week I worked on Dear Santa—a holiday comedy with music by Rupert Gregson-Williams—and I knew that was going to be my 1,900th theatrical motion picture.”
Dukov is proud that all of his work has been performed under union contract. “I’ve been very fortunate in that I’ve always been able to work on union dates,” he says. “You’ll be offered dark dates, and I always say don’t do them—you’ll be paid up front, sure, but in the long run you’ll be cheating yourself out of any reuse payments, which can be quite lucrative.”
“Musicians are often treated like day laborers in the film industry, and that’s not acceptable, not for the years of training and dedication that goes into perfecting your craft,” Dukov says. “You’ll never be compensated for the hours and hours of practice or what you put into an individual project. We’re just asking for a decent, living wage—like any professional.”
As negotiations for AFM’s film and TV agreements begin, Dukov hopes the AFM can build on the recent contract successes of the writers and actors unions. “We have to keep hammering away for what’s fair. Musicians play a vital role part in the industry, and that needs to be recognized.”
Dukov says 1,900 won’t be the pinnacle of his career. He’s still working in the studio and performing live dates. He’s also working on a new online, on-demand teaching method called Shortcuts to Rapid Arpeggio Domination (STRAD), a strategy he’s designed for highly advanced violinists to hone their performance of the ubiquitous arpeggio. “Now, as I’m in a more relaxed stage in my career, finally I decided to make a course based on one of my strengths as a violinist, the left-hand technique,” says Dukov.