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March 04, 2009

Comments

"Just point out the data and we'll be done." - downbeat

How's about YOU bringing just one piece of data to the discussion for a change?

802fiddler:

Good points re: how $$ are divided up from FMSMF, I agree.

But you still haven't presented a shred of data to verify your "verifiable fact".

Please, let's settle this once and for all. Show me where in Dennis Dreith's report or addendum or any other official document that there are dollar amounts presented showing that "most of the increase" in FMSMF contributions can be directly attributed to indie films.

The number of films is not relevant, you referred to contributions (as in dollars).

I've already shown you where Dennis himself characterized this as "speculation". So let's get to it, huh? Enough talk about the COMMITTEE, enough of the personal insults, etc. Just point out the data and we'll be done.


From downbeat:

Apples and oranges. Quantity vs. financial contributions. And common sense dictates that not all films contribute the same amount - in fact, indie films typically have much smaller music budgets than studio films.

Talk about apples and oranges - downbeat has yet to grasp the fact that a movie production's music budget has nothing to do with the money it generates for the FMSMF. That money is based on after-market sales. A small indie film can become a huge hit, thereby sending lotsa moolah to the Fund after it leaves the theaters. If the orchestra on the film was small, it means that fewer musicians get a bigger share of the money generated on that film. Elsewhere on this blog Dennis Dreith has eloquently stated the same thing. Of course, this is fact that downbeat seems unable to process.

AFM Article 15 Section 3 quoted here is crystal clear

What is crystal clear is that the AFM has no jurisdiction with foreign productions outside of N. America and, even within N. America, it's ability to fine or expel members is rather murky - e.g. Simon James of Vancouver.

Real,

You didn't present a single hard fact. You referred to the addendum without even specifying any data in it you "claim" supported 802fiddler's "verifiable fact" that most of the increase in FMSMF contributions was attributable to indie films. In fact, I was the one who pointed out the specific HARD FACTS in the addendum as well as the specifics in the original report that fail to support 802fiddler's "verifiable fact". And perhaps it's you who owes 802fiddler the apology for once again bringing up his embarrassing misstatement that, as before, has been publicly proven to be unsupported by data, even from Dreith's own report. I thought we were done with this until you brought it up again today.

But I guess you're one of those people who think if you say something loud enough and often enough, it will somehow be true, even if Dennis Dreith's own report blows your (802fiddler's actually) "verifiable fact" right out of the water. Reminds me of Bush and WMD. It's incredible to see people like you who have the ability to deny and ignore facts and the truth even when it's staring you in the face in black and white. In fact, YOU'RE the one who's disregarding the hard facts in Dreith's report that I quoted!

It's becoming more and more clear to me how the buyout recording orchestras have flourished over the last 15 years. Jaded recording guys like you just bury your heads in the sand, and when confronted with the bitter truth, choose to ignore it, dismiss it, or discredit the messenger - anything but actually deal with the truth head-on and do something about it. Simon James in Seattle should thank people like you (in part) for making his success at grabbing work from the AFM like taking candy from a baby.

Keep on drinking that kool-aid, real... maybe one day you'll actually HAVE some hard facts to have a grown-up discussion about... Until then, better check your "facts" a little more carefully before you claim your own little "Mission: Accomplished" moment.

I just knew 'downbeat would blow off any hard facts presented as as irrelevant. What a blowhard. The good news is that no-one is listening to him or talking to him any more. We all know it's just not worth it.

Hey aREALrecordingmusician,

Sorry, you better put your reading glasses on or take a quick math refresher course. Here we go again...

While the addendum DOES show that there are increasing NUMBERS (quantity of films, not dollars) of indie films contributing to the FMSMF, the addendum does NOT contain data showing that "most" of the increase in CONTRIBUTIONS to the fund (dollars - what counts!) are due to indie films. This is what 802fiddler claimed was a "verifiable fact", and of course he has yet to amend or retract it.

And let's not forget that Dennis' original report made it clear that it is "very difficult" to determine how much indie films are contributing in DOLLARS to the FMSMF, even referring to it as "speculation":

"There is little doubt that the ability to capture significant numbers of low-budget and
independent films has been a major contributing factor to the recovery of the market share.
This, in addition to capturing a number of foreign produced films gives rise to the speculation of a continuing increase in the market share. It is very difficult at this time to quantify what percent of the overall contributions to the Fund collections are coming from these films."

Apples and oranges. Quantity vs. financial contributions. And common sense dictates that not all films contribute the same amount - in fact, indie films typically have much smaller music budgets than studio films.

Nice try.

STOP PRESS!

Talk about game set and match! Take a look at the addendum to the FMSMF White Paper - released March 10 (fmsmf.org). With the actual numbers now published, 802fiddler stands completely vindicated in everything he claimed, a state of being that most of us (who actually work in the movie business!) knew all along. But I don't expect an apology or retraction from 'downbeat' and his pal 'anotherrecordingmusician' anytime soon.

LIKE I SAID: DOWNBEAT - - - - - ANOTHERRECORDINGMUSICIAN - - - - -

WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE - - - - ?

Your MONKness,

I did NOT say what you falsely attributed to me. Read the post again - it was someone else.

DOWNBEAT - - - - - ANOTHERRECORDINGMUSICIAN - - - - -

WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE - - - - ?

Downbeat said: "MONK, Are you really so clueless? Jingles can be for Radio or TV or the web or for those matter theaters now, since they show commercials. If you don't know that you are truly a fool. If you're going to try to make an insult, at least think for longer than the time it takes to read your resume to make it."

Forgive me your DOWNBEATNESS. Out here we call radio spots jingles and TV spots commercials. I have done over 1000 TV spots and jingles in a ten-year period. Forgive me if I do not have time to read my resume.

MONK,

Are you really so clueless? Jingles can be for Radio or TV or the web or for that matter theaters now, since they show commercials. If you don't know that you are truly a fool. If you're going to try to make an insult, at least think for longer than the time it takes to read your resume to make it.

And Petey is a real little piece of work, isn't he... I guess he believes that anyone who isn't on the sessions he plays doesn't really exist,.. like Bill Cosby talking about he and his little brother covering up their eyes when they were little and telling their dad "You can't see us!" What a moron.

Downbeat,

They have no choice but to make it about you. History and truth are not on their side. Hearing them trying to defend the indefensible conduct of the RMA is like listening to Ari FLeischer on Hardball. The only way he could function was to never stop talking nor let anyone else get a word in.

You're right downbeat, they know it and will die before admitting it, or more correctly, let the recording industry die before admitting it, as long as they've already gotten theirs of course.

It is people such as the RMA kool-aide drinkers that make the world a much worse place to live in. All for them and none for anyone else. Why else would they genuflect to making excuses for their own non-union gigs while wanting to hang anyone else for doing the same.

Mr Levine -

If possible, I would like to discuss your views about a past president of Local 10-208.

Thank you
JD

"I have worked for several different contractors in LA on film, TV and a few videogame dates"

I stand by that, it is accurate. Am I a full-time recording musician? Nope, never have been. I first joined the AFM in 1978. Was a member of the RMA for a while (LA Chapter), but too much politics for me. I guess you'd call me a "casual recording musician". I also teach private lessons, mostly to kids and teenagers. I find teaching to be a very fulfilling act - everyone should try it!

End of debate about me. Let's get back to the issues instead of the name-calling and ridiculous accusations. Not making it about me? You're trying really, really hard to do just that, Peterripley!

So Peterripley, what's your position on AFM members recording non-AFM? Or would you rather continue with your obsession about me, digging up posts from months ago and trying to make your silly accusations. Who I am, and what I've done in my career are not the issue here - the current path of the AFM is the issue - an issue worthy of serious discussion.

DOWNBEAT - DEC 29, 2008:

"I have worked for several different contractors in LA on film, TV and a few videogame dates"

YOU ARE INDEED A LIAR AND A FRAUD. AND CAUGHT IN THE ACT.

Downbeat, nobody else is making it about you - you're the one who has made this entire blog about you!!

A TV jingle? Is that like a radio Film?

Antony,

Your nasty personal attack is predictable, as you are. LA contractors contract for a lot more than film dates that pay FMSMF payments - TV jingles and commercials to start with, and that's where most of my union work other than live performing on tour earlier in my career has come from. I highlight the cozy relationship between the RMA and LA contractors, and you respond with a personal attack. How typical!

Your myopic view that "recording musicians" and being "in the business" and "making a living" doesn't extend beyond the shrinking scope of big-orchestra feature films is about 20 years out of date. But I guess since the agreements you are so willing to drive work (for others, of course) away from the AFM in order to "protect" are similarly outdated, we shouldn't be surprised that your attitudes and perspective are similarly jaded and outdated.

And of course, you segue nicely into yet another attack on Tom Lee, true to form, blaming him for anything and everything that you don't like.

But can you name a single recording musician job that Tom Lee has cost LA recording musicians? Nope. But how many recording musician jobs have the extremist recording musicians cost players? We can start with the Simpsons video game session mass-cancellation that cost LA players and pushed that and other work to San Francisco/Skywalker. And I cannot imagine that the highly litigious reputation that LA recording musicians are now getting in the industry is exactly attracting business.

Antony, as much as you'd like to make this about me, it isn't. It's about the issues, and the actions, and performance of our leaders.

According to 'downbeat:
"Given your,(and the RMA's) cozy relationship with LA's largest contractors, I'm sure you can see how it's generally not considered "safe" for musicians who work as recording musicians in LA to say anything critical of the RMA to you or other RMA officers, when contracting decisions can be made on a whim without any justification or substantiation."

Talk about a fear based relationship. This blog is dominated by endless debates with 'downbeat'. Months ago claimed he was a 30-year LA recording musician, who didn't want to reveal his name due to potential retaliation from 'RMA LA' contractors. Then, just weeks ago, he admitted he is not a 'member' of FMSMF, which means he doesn't receive a FMSMF check. Since 'downbeat' has never done a legitimate film date (since he isn't a 'member' of FMSMF, and hasn't done enough AFM film work to even receive a disbursement of $10 - the minimum amount), he claims to be worried about his relationship with LA contractors!! What relationship? How could he fear retaliation from contractors he's never worked for?!

So, since we figured out by his own admission that 'downbeat' is not even in the business, he lied to us. This blog is all taken up a debate with this guy, who is completely BS, and wants to ruin it for all those working in it. What a fascinating study of human behavior. So why is everyone debating a complete phony?

Jealousy is a very powerful emotion and you are witnessing its power firsthand in an metamorphosis of someone's needs. This is all that this is about. No-one is ever going to win these debates with someone who needs to spend all his waking energy trying to hurt those people who do make a living from something he would like to do too. It's pathetic.

The ultimate fear-based relationship is actually between the total sum of the IEB, most local officers and AFM employees, who are all in fear of Tom Lee. Lee has retaliated against everyone he considers to be his enemy. This does more damage to the AFM than anything else.

One can only deduce that 'downbeat', in some way, some how, must be working for Tom Lee.

You said, regarding AFM members recording non-AFM: "there appear to be situations in which AFM agreements do permit it". I'll be glad to revise my viewpoint if and when those specific agreements are proven to exist and disclosed. New data is always a good thing.

My understanding is that the film agreement does cover certain situations relating to working overseas. I'd love to see that agreement too. But it's not posted on the AFM's website. Perhaps the AFM makes it available to members who work under it? I would hope so.

Debating agreements without seeing them is some what pointless, but I would be interested in your position on whether AFM members should be allowed to record non-AFM, whether in Seattle, London, Eastern Europe, Australia, or anywhere else..

And I'd be interested in your position on some of the issues I've raised, but so far haven't gotten anything but more rhetorical questions. Nonetheless I’ll try to answer your question.

The spirit – or intention, if you prefer – of a bylaw, or even a CBA, is at least as important as the letter when trying to address issues of right and wrong. Bylaws, being pure letter, can be a blunt instrument when addressing nuanced situations that involve intentions.

So we need to look at the goals of agreements and bylaws. Generally a union’s goal should be to increase the economic well-being of its members. Bylaws, if they are to reflect that goal, need to promote behavior – by members and officers both – that advances that goal and not bother with anything else. To give a silly example, it would be legal for a union to require that its members wear a union T-shirt at all times. But it would hardly advance the union’s primary goal, would piss off a lot of members, and would be unenforceable. Bylaws need to be seen to be reasonable, fair, and focused in order to have the degree of moral validity that will make members want to adhere to them.

The Seattle scene is purely non-union. It was created to avoid AFM agreements. It would not be consistent to support AFM agreements and at the same time to work in Seattle, absent extenuating circumstances beyond my current imagining. That’s not to say that punishing members for working in Seattle is the best way to handle the situation; generally punishing members is not a good organizing tool. But capturing work that is currently done in Seattle for AFM members working under AFM agreements is a worthy goal. Converting AFM agreements to be equivalent to what’s currently happening in Seattle would not be a worthy way of achieving that goal, however.

Some work is done overseas to avoid AFM contracts. But my understanding is that lots is done for other reasons, which would in and of themselves prevent the AFM from capturing that work. I don’t see a policy reason to discourage AFM members from doing such work. And, as I pointed out earlier, the AFM allows foreign orchestras that do non-AFM media work to advertise in the IM, which would imply that the AFM doesn’t see a policy reason to discourage all foreign media work either.

From downbeat:

Time to be a grown-up and admit that you were wrong, and we'll all move on and forgive you for your confusion.

I wasn't aware that somebody died and left you the supreme arbiter of who's an adult. Further, you and "another" hardly add up to "we'll all."

However, I am confused by your conflicting statements where on the one hand you claim not to be a "member" (nobody's a member) of the FMSMF - meaning you don't do film work, and on the other hand you worry about pissing off "RMA contractors" (did you mean LA contractors who happen to belong to the RMA?) who might not call you for film work (that's what they contract) if you reveal your identity. Perhaps you are living in alternate universes, perhaps you're just a little schizophrenic or maybe there's more than one of you.

Dennis,

Thanks for the clarifications, very helpful. I am no expert on AFM issues, despite what some around here fantasize about regarding who they think I am. I'm actually here to learn, and to participate in discussions and offer my viewpoint. Now let's cut straight to the heart of the issue:

802fiddler claimed it was a "verifiable fact" that "most" of the increase in fund contributions were due to indie films.

You say "It is undeniable that the ability to capture these markets has resulted in increases to the Fund during times when all the major studios have posted losses in home video revenue."

Your words, very carefully chosen, do not quite agree with his. You say that indie films caused "increases", he says "most" of the increase - there is a substantial difference here. If you can point to specific data in your original white paper or the addendum that verifies as a fact the assertion that 802fiddler has claimed again and again that is a "verifiable fact" - that "most" of the increase in fund contributions is due to indie films, the discussion is over and 802fiddler is vindicated. But from what I've read, even in your most recent post here, you are not ready to verify 802fiddler's specific claim, and have not presented the data necessary nor the language to do so. If I have misunderstood you, please advise.

I'm not saying it's your obligation or duty to provide this data, and frankly I'm sure you've got better things to do, and so do I. I'd just like to end this on a note of finality - either the data is presented to back his claim up, or his claim remains unsubstantiated. And of course, it's his obligation to provide the data, not yours - it was he (or maybe she!) who made the claim that his claim was a "verifiable fact".

Finally, my apologies if my remarks came across as insulting to you. Given your position with the FMSMF, I was trying to put things in perspective. Your white paper and adddendum contained a lot of interesting information and data, and while in my opinion it does not represent the big picture, the reports certainly do add a lot of light onto the situation and provide beneficial, usable data for the segment of the market it pertains to. I know of no one who questions your success at running the FMSMF, myself included.

Robert,

Regarding the RMA-LA President and his London recording video, in hindsight I may have placed too much emphasis on this one isolated situation. The problem of AFM members recording non-AFM is far bigger than this one situation, and it's not fair to put the weight of the argument for or against recording non-AFM entirely on this one guy, despite his leadership position. I do think, though, that AFM Article 15 Section 3 is a very relevant issue for discussion, until that bylaw is cancelled or modified.

There is so much misinformation floating around that I almost don’t know where to start. Regardless, I am offering the following:

First, with respect to Downbeat’s questions and comments regarding what constitutes “Majors,” “Independents,” and “Low-Budget.” These are commonly used terms throughout our industry, and have specific meanings in the AFM Agreements with the industry. Given Downbeat’s self-proclaimed knowledge of the agreements and the industry, I am a little surprised he is not familiar with how they are used in this context. However, for the purpose of the White Paper and the Addendum, a “Major” is any signatory AMPTP company. Productions captured as “Majors” for this study were predominantly domestically produced motion pictures (as opposed to films that were only distributed) by a Major signatory company. There are, in some instances foreign films produced by a Major’s foreign (non-signatory company) that are not necessarily obligated to score under the jurisdiction of the AFM, but do so anyway. The obligations for these productions were assumed by the domestic Major, and were therefore considered a Major’s production. An “Independent” is any production not produced by a Major that must use an Assumption Agreement with a signatory Payroll Company to record a score under the auspices of the AFM. This is the case of large independent production companies, small independent production companies and in other cases a production company established solely to produce a particular motion picture. These are considered “Independents” by the AMPTP and the IFTA, and well as all other credible industry sources, and are considered so by the FMSMF and the AFM.

Downbeat states:

the only thing the data actually shows is that the NUMBER of indie films is increasing, but that's not the AMOUNT OF THE CONTRIBUTIONS of those films

This is not correct. The Addendum clearly demonstrates that not only on average are there more Independent and Low-Budget films that make up the universe of films reporting to the Fund, but that they are absolutely a substantial portion of the collections – often as much as 50% of the total revenue to the Fund. It is undeniable that the ability to capture these markets has resulted in increases to the Fund during times when all the major studios have posted losses in home video revenue.

Downbeat also goes on to state:

…that studio films tend to contribute more $$ than indie films due to larger orchestra sizes/music budgets.

This is likewise not at all true. The size of the orchestra and the amount of the music budget has absolutely no bearing on contributions to the Fund. Contributions to the Fund are derived solely from the “Producer’s Gross,” having absolutely nothing to do with how many musicians were hired or the sixe of the music budget. In fact, we often see a small film with a modest budget and a small orchestra generate greater revenue to the Fund than a large budget film with an expansive orchestra.

Finally, Downbeat writes Dennis is a musician, not an executive. It is inappropriate to expect the kind of results you'd see from a seasoned executive or corporate marketing type in this case.

I will only state that I will let my resume, accomplishments, opinions of industry professionals, and the performance of the Fund speak for my credentials as a proven executive. In addition, the presentation of the data in the White Paper and Addendum was never intended to be the work of a “corporate marketing type,” and it would inappropriate for it to be so.

Robert,

You said, regarding AFM members recording non-AFM: "there appear to be situations in which AFM agreements do permit it". I'll be glad to revise my viewpoint if and when those specific agreements are proven to exist and disclosed. New data is always a good thing.

But at this point those agreements are speculation. And even if there are agreements that permit AFM members to go overseas to record, that doesn't address the many AFM members, especially orchestrators and others, who have worked on Seattle projects and continue to do so. Somehow I doubt that those undisclosed agreements apply to AFM members working on Seattle projects, but are you saying they do? or should?

AFM Article 15 Section 3 quoted here is crystal clear, and until I see something in writing from the AFM that negates or changes that bylaw, as far as I'm concerned, it stands. But the bylaw notwithstanding, are you actually saying that it's a good thing, and sends the right message to the industry and to the membership for the RMA-LA President to record overseas?

Debating agreements without seeing them is some what pointless, but I would be interested in your position on whether AFM members should be allowed to record non-AFM, whether in Seattle, London, Eastern Europe, Australia, or anywhere else.


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