Why music supervisors are clashing with Netflix and its directors in their battles over directing
As Netflix’s most senior figure in the music department, director of the company’s original anime programming – a position that was inherited from creator Steve Martino after his unexpected death – is currently embroiled in an all-out battle with the company’s creative head Ben Smith over his proposed adaptation of the American classic musical Rent. It all stems, however, from a failed attempt by Smith to film a pilot episode of the show, which Smith then used as the basis for his much more expansive feature-length film. Despite Netflix’s insistence that Smith be credited as the project’s sole creator, the director’s name has been largely erased from the credits for the short film and the full feature.
In a long-term battle at one of Hollywood’s most prestigious indie studios, Smith and Martino – who was not even on the same staff at Netflix – were fighting over who would get credit for what. In the midst of the dispute, Martino’s studio, The Orchard, sued the company over the rights to the music to which Smith had contributed original music to the short film. Netflix’s legal team is claiming victory: In a statement, Netflix’s head of film, Fred arden, said that Smith had not only been misidentified as the director but also that the company had not given the director credit or access to the music.
“We are very happy to have an outcome that confirms our vision for how we run our film studio and our partnership with filmmakers,” said arden. Netflix’s statement refers to Smith as “an employee of The Orchard [and] his team of producers”. Netflix has since cut Smith’s access to music – according to the studio he would be given credit only for the film.
Smith has now also made it known that he will not participate in any music-related work for Netflix for the foreseeable future in order to save his relationship with Netflix’s chairman. “The company has to come to terms with its