Thursday, April 26, 2012

Music Licensing Fees Keep Wrecking Crew From Commercial Release

I was recently thinking about doing some posts on the fate of the best movies that have been at the Anchorage International Film Festival.  Whatever happened to them?  Did they fade away?  Did they get audiences?

Today I saw this New York Times article about The Wrecking Crew.

The Wrecking Crew wowed the people who saw it at the Anchorage International Film Festival - in the museum theater - and it won an Audience Award for Best Documentary.

On December 12, 2008, I wrote:
Then we saw one of my favorite films of the week - The Wrecking Crew. When I first saw it in the schedule I figured it had to be good if just for the music. The Wrecking Crew was the backup band for most of the big hits in the late 60s pop music in California. It turned out to be an interesting movie that filled in a lot of gaps - these guys and one woman - played in literally every big hit. It was sort of like a public television fundraiser oldies show, but much, much better.
That was typed in quickly and without enough reflection time at the Bear Tooth just before a final movie for the day.  As the days went by, the power of the The Wrecking Crew story, highlighting the musicians who backed up so many of the great songs of the 60s, sank in.

And all that great music is the problem.  They are still struggling to pay the royalty fees for 132 music cues.
In the 1960s many of the hits coming out of Los Angeles under the names of
the Beach Boys, Sonny & Cher, the Mamas and the Papas, the Monkees and other top pop acts were actually recorded by an elite but largely anonymous corps of studio musicians nicknamed the Wrecking Crew. To gain them some belated public recognition Denny Tedesco, a son of one of the most prolific of those session players, spent more than 15 years making a documentary about the ensemble.

But there’s just one problem, and it has held up commercial release of “The Wrecking Crew” since 2008, when the documentary made its debut at the South by Southwest film festival. The film includes dozens of snippets from songs the Wrecking Crew played on, but the record companies that own the recordings want so much money from Mr. Tedesco, whose total budget was less than $1 million, that he has turned to a fund-raising campaign, including an event scheduled for New York in mid-June, to meet their demands. [Read the rest here.]
And go to the Wrecking Crew website just to hear the music.  

And it's coming soon to
  • Annenberg Center for Performing Arts - Philadelphia, April 28-29
  • Woodlake Elementary School in Woodland Hills, California, May4
  • The Cutting Room in NYC on June 13.
Check here for details and other upcoming showings or if you want to put one on.

1 comment:

  1. The Film That May Never Be Seen

    They Died Before 40, a documentary jazz film, has been completed in “rough cut,” but may never be seen publicly because of licensing situations that have not been resolved.

    The film is one hour and 33 minutes of interviews, music, photos, other graphic material and some film clips telling about and musically demonstrating the unique talents and all too short careers of each of eight musicians. They all died before the age of 40...and four of them actually died before the age of 30!

    The film was financed solely by the producer with limited resources. It was originally intended to be 58 minutes with nine pieces of music and a few dozen photos. In order to make the film that developed it is necessary to obtain licenses for more than 50 pieces of music and some of the 600 photographs and graphic images. A few pieces of music come under “public domain” and can be used without licenses. There are hundreds of photographs that may be in the public domain. It would be very costly to research all of them and it may not be possible to determine if there are any legal owners. The ones whose owners have been identified must be licensed.

    The film will be an important historical record that shows the important and even revolutionary music advances made by these musicians while also telling a revealing story of their lifestyles and deaths that have not heretofore been explored. In addition, the stories of these musicians’ lives demonstrate how and why some unique talents are not being appreciated today. The film also shows how racism affected their lives and how so many other factors, so little known, understood and underappreciated, contributed to their early demise.

    40 “Hot Points” about the film can be seen on the website -

    Unless funds are obtained shortly to resolve the licensing situations mentioned above the film may never be shown publicly. Please see HATCHFUND.ORG - Donations are tax-deductible.

    Howard Fischer - Producer, Director, Writer


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