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Eight local artists -- including Alfred Howard and Wise Monkey Orchestra -- contributed music to Skid Marks, Karl Kozak's comedy about two ambulance companies trying to put each other out of business. What's in it for the musicians? In exchange for allowing parts of their songs to be used on the soundtrack, they get $250 up front and ASCAP/BMI royalty checks.

"You get $200 to $400, on average, every time it gets shown on cable TV," says Kozak. The local director says his drama/horror from last year (titled The Unknown, with music by Berkley Hart) was shown on the Sci Fi Channel 13 times; Kozak's Out of the Black (from 2001, about a coal-mine explosion) aired on the Hallmark Channel twice last year.

Longtime local reggae band the Cardiff Reefers passed on the soundtrack offer.

"Some [bands] just don't want to overexpose themselves," says Kozak. "Or maybe they're used to getting a lot more money."

Kozak, a cofounder and program director of the San Diego Film Festival, says some indie film producers have poor reputations about paying their music-license fees.

"I tell people if I don't pay them they can sue me and it will hold up distribution of my film. Sometimes bands call me up the next day [after signing the contract] and say, 'Where's my $250?' I tell them the contract says I have 30 days after the movie comes out to pay them."

Kozak says distribution of Skid Marks will not involve film.

"It will only be shown at UltraStar Theaters that are all-digital. The picture is sent to them via the satellite dish on top of their theater. This is one of the first indie films to be distributed this way. Five percent of American theaters are all-digital so far, but that number increases every week. In the next couple years, you won't use film."

Some critics maintain that digital movies don't have the same rich quality of film. "But everyone agrees that sound is better on digital. There are no pops or scratches."

Skid Marks opens tomorrow at Hazard Center's UltraStar Cinema (Mission Valley). It shows October 19 at the UltraStars in Poway, Del Mar, and Chula Vista.

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