PARIS – France probably provides more support to the arts than any other nation in the world, but sometimes the synergies between various different art forms aren’t always easy to cultivate. Gallic music and film have been a classic case.
Over the last two decades, French film producers have made regular use of soundtracks performed by orchestras, but in the vast majority of cases have contracted orchestras based in Eastern Europe, Germany or the U.K. for this purpose – above all due to problems related to rights clearances and associated costs.
This was one of the main conclusions reached by a recent study conducted by the Ile de France National Orchestra, one of Gaul’s biggest orchestras, which has paved the way to a pathbreaking deal, unveiled at this year’s Paris Images Location Expo (Feb. 3-4), that enables producers to acquire an all-rights-included deal on music performed by the Orchestra, thus avoiding any subsequent royalty payments each time the work is screened.
Founded in 1974, the Ile de France National Orchestra has 95 permanent musicians, and is associated to the Paris Philharmonica Orchestra. Its current musical director is Enrique Mazzola.
The Orchestra performs 110 concerts per season including cine-concerts for films such as “Gladiator,” “The Godfather” and D.W. Griffith’s “Intolerance.” In recent years it has also regularly performed music to accompany public projections of animated films. According to the Orchestra’s general manager, Fabienne Voisin, this was the initial inspiration to establish this new deal, negotiated with the Ile de France Film Commission.
“Recording soundtracks for films offers tremendous visibility, especially since so many films use orchestral music and original scores,” explained Voisin to Variety. “However over the past two decades French film producers have primarily used foreign orchestras for such work, due to fears over excessive royalty payments down the line. We therefore discussed the matter internally and now offer an all-in-one rights deal for film producers.”
The Paris-Ile de France region hosts the majority of French production houses and shoots. Voisin therefore felt that this was an evident opportunity for the Orchestra.
The Orchestra also has in-house composers that can work with producers on composing new scores.
The new deal also includes a pedagogical element, since the Orchestra has established an agreement with France’s association of animation schools – RECA – whereby from 2017 onwards it will compose and perform a soundtrack to accompany a short animated film from each of the association’s schools.
The new agreement was complemented on Monday, Feb. 2 by a manifesto signed by the French Film Music Composers Union, the Ile de France National Orchestra, the Syndicat National des Auteurs et Compositeurs and the Ile-de-France Film Commission in favor of the “relocalisation” of film music recording.
The statement laments the fact that the majority of French film soundtracks are recorded by orchestras based abroad, especially in Eastern Europe.
The manifesto urges the search for solutions that will enable costs to be contained, ensure an effective rights management procedure, establish a pool of musicians dedicated to film music and encourage leading composers to work with French orchestras whenever recording film music.
The agreement announced at the Paris Images Location Expo was the first direct outcome of this manifesto.