Friday 6 March 2020

Be Water - No more music

Well... I certainly have been working a lot these past months on Be Water, a documentary about Bruce Lee. The film successfully premiered at the recent Sundance Festival in February. 
However, unfortunate circumstances make it so that my music will be pulled from the film. The reason? Because the contract I was given to sign demands that I yield all my rights to ESPN, a TV sport channel that belongs to the almighty Disney. 
The French copyright laws forbid me to sign such a contract - even if such contracts are apparently common in the US and the UK, they are totally illegal in France and in Europe. However, ESPN would not try to understand this and coldly threatened not to replace my music if I refused to cooperate. I wonder if they actually knew anything of the matter, if Julia and Bao decided to not bother them of the issue and tell Goh and I that they wouldn't budge. There’s something called integrity, so I refused. Goh needed the money and climbed down to them over the so-called negociations. I personally didn’t want to kneel down to those people, who treat others with such unfairness and disrespect. I guess we musicians are so negligeable and disposable entities next to their mighty power that they just don't care. I was furious at Bao Nguyen, the director, who didn't seem to offer much help (he wasn't able to say anything of substance, beside the usual polite, non-involving ready-made phrases), and I suppose the last thing he and his partner Julia wanted was to upset the panel of producers. Whether he himself knew or understood what was really going on regarding the situation and the contract, how or whether he and Julia, his partner producer communicated with each other, I don't know. His answers to me were contradictory, or vague at best, but seemed to always so convienently avoid the point. What I knew that Goh said to me was never addressed in his replies.
I simply know that I have worked tirelessly on the music, that I had to make do with this panel of micro-managing producers who just saw music as a prop, that I delivered everything on time for the premiere. 
I’m also losing money, because ESPN would only pay the second half of my fee if I agreed to sign that bloody contract. "I know it's a lousy contract" Bao had said to Goh...
I consulted the Legal Department of the SACEM, the French Composers Society, and they laughed in disbelief when they read the contract. I also asked Stéphane Junk a friend who's a music counsellor between musicians and production companies, to represent me and negociate, to no avail. "They keep repeating the same thing and don't seem to understand the problem." he told me. "It seems that they don't even know that the copyright law is different in the US and in Europe."

I find it vastly ironic to make a documentary that celebrates and praises Bruce Lee and his battle as an Asian artist against the Hollywood system, his struggles against racial bias in the US, and then be facing the same situation than Bruce Lee. To me, Bao is convieniently using the figure of Bruce Lee as a mirror to his own personal issues. Naturally, people will pay more attention when it's about Bruce Lee.
I would have liked to see a documentary about Baos' own struggles...  
So, no more Be Water for me.
I feel drained and betrayed.

Walk the talk / talk about the walk

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