Saturday, September 17, 2011

Fees wrecking film’s distribution

Daughter Number Three spotted an article about The Wrecking Crew, Denny Tedesco’s 2008 documentary about the West Coast session musicians heard on countless 1960s pop and rock records. It’s 2011, and the film still has no distribution. Why? The fees for the 130 songs used in the film total more than $300,000. The filmmaker’s response has been to make the film a non-profit, eligible for funding through the International Documentary Foundation.

Nina Paley’s animated film Sita Sings the Blues (2008) was hit with similarly exorbitant fees for the use of 1920s recordings. The initial price: $220,000.

Somehow I don’t think that’s the way copyright is supposed to work.

The Wrecking Crew (the film’s site)
The Wrecking Crew (Wikipedia article)
Sita and copyright (Wikipedia article)

[Denny Tedesco is the son of guitarist and Crew member Tommy Tedesco.]

comments: 4

Anonymous said...

"Somehow I don’t think that’s the way copyright is supposed to work."

Of course it is. All guild-like restrictions throughout history have been to corral a commodity and control it. Each century and each culture has evidence of this, from capitalism to socialism, from arts to business, and more.

Don't be surprised. Just because you think copyright law isn't meant to do this, I guarantee the copyright holders do. Else they would cut their royalty demands. Look to the game itself. The players tell all about the rules.

Music copyrights which can generate fees -- excessive to some, reasonable to others -- are the law. Eliminate them, and more artists will starve than do already.

Michael Leddy said...

Anon., nothing I wrote suggests that fees be eliminated (though I do though think that life-plus-ninety-five years is too long). I also find it difficult to believe that the fees in question here will help the creators of the music in question (or their heirs).

Denny said...

Let me jump in since I'm the person having to live it. Everyone is right. The only reason it is so much is because of the amount of music. The labels and publishers have given a wonderful deal regarding the licensing. Its just the reality of the amount of songs and the fact it is a documentary. Music Documentaries do not tend to make money according to distributors.

A couple of the artists that owned the music have given the music for free. Could some of the companies have donated a few songs to the project to help highlight their catalog?

Yes, but the business is in such turmoil, no one is taking that chance and upsetting someone above them.

I'm more upset with folks downloading music or videos for free. This has destroyed any hope that a artists can create for a living. Every free download or duplication adds up. Ask me about the duplication of my film. Why should someone buy the DVD when they've seen the film from someone's screener. At least you'll listen to a song multiple times in your lifetime. Hopefully those that were given a copy will buy a DVD when it does come out.

In the long run, I'm thrilled that the film is being pushed forward donations from strangers and lovers of the music and musicians.

Please tell others about the facebook and website. Check out the out-takes of the film. Those are the gems I wasn't able to add to the film. Please email me through the website if you have any questions and thank Michael for the mention. Denny Tedesco

Michael Leddy said...

Denny, thanks for your comment. I haven’t seen the film, and I look forward to the DVD. I hope it brings great glory to the musicians involved.