View Full Version : Music clearances; legal issues; Disney-Lucasfilm-ASCAP; John Williams...

05-18-2013, 10:58 AM
My friend(yes it really is my friend not me, :D ) has a student film/fan Star Wars film; Droids, Jawa Adventure . It won several Florida Film Industry awards in 2012 & got high praise from Anthony Daniels at the Star Wars Celebration in Orlando Florida(2012).
He wants to submit the short film to the 2013 Manhattan Short Film Festival. It meets all the requirements but the festival entry form states you need all music cleared. Since the Star Wars short film includes several scenes with John Williams music how or who should my friend contact to get the needed legal documents or waivers for the Manhattan Short Film Festival submission; Lucasfilm/ILM? Disney or Disney's office/A&R office(music dept)? John Williams or his agent/talent mgr? ASCAP? Who?

I'm not Mr Show-Biz & I'm not sure how music/talent issues are dealt with. Any legal or business information related to these topics would be a big help.
PM me too if you wish.

With Thanks;

05-18-2013, 06:59 PM

"Independent filmmakers planning to show their films at film festivals can also often negotiate a reduced fee called a Festival Use License. These reduced rates are based on limited screenings of the film."I believe that both John Williams and the owners are represented by BMI.com (http://www.bmi.com/).

05-19-2013, 09:08 AM
Music licensing, no matter how simple it might seem for a given project, is legally complex and expensive. You have to pay three entities: the copyright holder of the music (usually the publisher), the "mechanical rights" holder (which is usually the record label with current rights) and the third-party entity that negotiates and executes your "clearances."
It is usually difficult, if not impossible, to get "free licensing," even for a passion or nonprofit project, because even that requires relatively complicated paperwork -- and no one will do that for free.
In this instance, it is THEORETICALLY possible that a music licensing agent might set up a "free" deal with the other two entities, but still charge you their fee for that service, which would probably be around $1,000 to $2,000 or so, I'd guess.
Your best option in terms of a full deal is what's usually called a "limited rights" deal, just for film festivals, for example, and for a limited period of time.
Contact one of the A-list music licensing firms that specialize in film music, such as The Music Bridge (www.themusicbridge.com). Phone is (310) 398-9650.
Good news is it's standard industry practice to provide a free consultation. After you explain your situation, they will give you a detailed response -- and estimated cost for the whole package, including their fee.
But be prepared to pay out some pretty serious money.
Hope this helps.

05-20-2013, 12:16 PM
Thank you for the posts & input so far.
I'm checking BMI's site now. John Williams is a formal member.
I'm also looking at the limited use/film festival use music licenses.
I saw a firm called Greenlight that claims to do a lot of Walt Disney music/soundtracks/Broadway production scores.

The Music Bridge firm looks good. I hope this process can be smooth & painless(as in not a lot of $$$).

Keep posting any new details...


05-20-2013, 03:57 PM
Hi again, Beef. I saw your response and just want to give you a heads up--if you are thinking in terms of "not too much $$$," you are going to be quite surprised by what even "a little music" costs. And the fee is calculated by what is called a "needle drop," meaning how many SECONDS of music you want to license. And using the same clip several times is several needle drops, not one -- and you pay for each.
I know all this because I set out to license some relatively UNKNOWN music for a 6-month film festival/U.S. only license a while back. And I almost dropped dead when I learned what it costs.
So if you are not serious and realistic, you are wasting everybody's time, not just your own. Just be prepared.