Considering the Dallas Symphony’s two-season-long commitment to highlight movie composers by commissioning world-premiere works from five of them and presenting multi-media perspectives on their careers — oh, and considering the Fort Worth Symphony’s New Year’s Eve concert of movie music — this Variety story must seem like a bucket of cold water. Or, gosh darn it, the very reason we ought to be applauding these artists, now that they’re getting neglected in time-honored, movie-industry fashion.
James Horner, a double Oscar winner for “Titanic” and composer on this year’s “Avatar,” says that a decade or more ago, “the composer was always at least equal in rank to picture editor.” Now, he thinks, music “has slipped closer to the level of sound effects” for many of the directors with whom he’s worked….
One major Hollywood filmmaker recently showed up at a composer’s studio to preview the music (based on synthesizer mockups of what was to eventually be recorded by an orchestra), listened for a few seconds and declared, “Hate it! What else ya got?”
Fees are declining, schedules shrinking, credits are buried — three reasons that there is a movement now to unionize composers for the first time since the Composers & Lyricists Guild of America failed back in the 1970s, the result of the studios’ refusal to negotiate music-ownership rights.