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Next "Star Wars" to score in Los Angeles for First Time in Franchise History

by Linda A. Rapka, AFM Local 47 idVer:ddd4dbdf78 Wednesday, Mar. 25, 2015 at 10:43 AM
linda.rapka@afm47.org

In a reversal of the current tide of runaway production facing our local scoring community, the music scoring for the upcoming "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" is moving from London and coming stateside to Los Angeles.

Next "Star Wars...
starwars.jpg, image/jpeg, 600x334

The Force is with Los Angeles musicians: For the first time in the film saga’s history, the musical score to “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” will be recorded in Los Angeles by members of the American Federation of Musicians Local 47.

Composer John Williams—himself a Life Member of Local 47—is currently at work writing the music for this seventh installment in the “Star Wars” franchise. Williams has composed the music for every film in the series since its 1977 debut. While previous films were scored at Abbey Road with the London Symphony Orchestra, “The Force Awakens” marks the first time a “Star Wars” score will be recorded in the United States.

This project will generate millions in wages, benefits, and other production spending for the Hollywood film scoring community, which has suffered from an increase in offshoring of work during the past several years.

Scoring sessions for “The Force Awakens” will take place over the span of several months beginning in April by freelance members of the Los Angeles musicians union Local 47, also known as the Hollywood Studio Orchestra. The orchestra will be put together by music contractor Sandy De Crescent, whose work with Williams began in the early 1970s with Los Angeles orchestras contracted for “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial,” “Jaws,” and “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” Over the years they have collaborated on several dozen films including Los-Angeles scored films “Superman,” “Jurassic Park,” “Schindler’s List,” “Memoirs of a Geisha,” “War Horse,” “The Adventures of Tintin,” and most recently “The Book Thief,” which won the Grammy for Best Instrumental Album and was nominated for Oscar, BAFTA and Golden Globe awards.

The decision to score in Los Angeles was made after producers and director J. J. Abrams heard Williams’ original music for the film's first trailer, which also was recorded with a Los Angeles orchestra contracted by De Crescent.

“I’m thrilled for the town. This is a huge thing to have happen, at the perfect time,” says De Crescent, commenting on the exodus of scoring jobs affecting not only California but the United States as a whole. “After a very difficult time, this is a wonderful shot in the arm.”

John Williams has been nominated for 49 Academy Awards, winning five; six Emmy Awards, winning three; 25 Golden Globe Awards, winning four; 65 Grammy Awards, winning 22; and has received seven British Academy Film Awards. Williams currently holds the record for the most Oscar nominations for a living person, and is the second most nominated person in Academy Awards history behind Walt Disney.

“We are excited and proud that our talented pool of Local 47 musicians are scoring the next ‘Star Wars’ film here in Los Angeles,” says AFM Local 47 President John Acosta. “This marks a significant achievement not only in efforts to revitalize the musical community in Hollywood, but also in bringing work historically done abroad here to the United States. We look forward to celebrating many similar future successes.”

“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” also marks the first film Williams will be scoring under the Walt Disney Pictures banner. Disney acquired Lucasfilm Ltd., the movie production company founded by “Star Wars” creator George Lucas, in 2012 for billion. The film is scheduled for release on Dec. 18, 2015.

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