New Orleans is a city known for many things: food, music, and Mardi Gras mostly. With the booming movie industry in full swing here in Louisiana, numerous independent film projects have been launched covering various different N.O.–related topics, including the big three mentioned above and several more. Many of these films coming out of the city need help with funding (probably the most difficult aspect of the filmmaking process) the typically high production and post-production costs.
A few weeks ago, I highlighted a NOLA-based documentary that was seeking donations about local marching bands in preparation for the Carnival season called The Whole Gritty City. Thanks to the help and support of local residents, the film reached its minimum goal through Kickstarter and is now fully funded.
This week another excellent New Orleans music-related film is in need of funding help.
Brass Roots: The Untold History of New Orleans Brass Bands is a documentary seeking to chronicle the history, people, and culture surrounding contemporary New Orleans brass band music.
Brass band music and New Orleans have been synonymous since the city was founded in the late 18th century. It was brass bands that helped spawn the birth of jazz in the Crescent City and it is brass bands that continue that tradition of innovation to this day.
This film will tell the story of how and when brass band music seemed to hit a low point in the late 1960s (participation and interest among youth had been diverted away by emergence of R&B, Funk and Soul music), and how a man named Danny Barker began the Fairview Baptist Church Band with the intent of reintroducing the youth of New Orleans to the traditional forms of New Orleans music.
Using the tools he taught them as musicians and performers, Barker’s pupils took off on their own and ended up forming the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, which was the first to incorporate modern sounds the musicians were hearing on the radio with the classical styles of New Orleans jazz.
The Dirty Dozen’s popularity soared and spawned a slew of imitators and inspired by bands like Rebirth, The Soul Rebels and Hot 8 to pave their own way in New Orleans music history. Each band took styles they learned from previous generations and incorporated it with forms like funk, soul, rock, hip-hop and other contemporary pop beats to create a continually evolving, but always classically rooted music genre.
Watch the brief, but rockin’ preview trailer for the film posted in the VIDEO box at the top left side of this article.
Production of the film began in 2009 by three friends living in New Orleans – Alejandro de los Rios, Jonathan Bachman, and Michael Seaman. The idea for the film originated from a shared love of New Orleans brass bands, second lines, and their rich history of tradition and culture. In the past 18 months, the filmmakers have compiled hundreds of hours of footage from interviews, live performances, and second lines in order to gain a deeper understanding of New Orleans’ signature music genre.
Brass Roots will feature members of Dirty Dozen, Rebirth, Treme, Soul Rebels, Hot 8, Free Agents, To Be Continued, and Stooges brass bands, as well as interviews with other musicians Leroy Jones and Glen David Andrews; rappers Mannie Fresh, Jay Electronica and Dee-1; artist Frenchy; writers Lolis Eric Elie and Tom Piazza; and Tulane professors Bruce Raeburn and Matt Sakakeeny.
Brass Roots is currently in production, but it needs your help to get completed. Through a campaign on Kickstarter.com, the world’s largest funding platform for creative projects on the world, the film’s production team is seeking monetary donations to help fund the very expensive production process.
Your support via Kickstarter will make the crucial difference in completing the entire film. Donations can be made for as little $1. All money raised from donations will go to hiring a narrator (already in talks with an actor born in New Orleans), pay the bands that have and will continue to participate in our film and record their music live in concert, help pay travel expenses to go on tour with some of these bands, and finally, to finish overall production on the film (complete more interviews, pay licensing fees on music, finish video editing, sound mixing, marketing, and DVD packaging for festival submissions and other related production costs).
In addition to helping fund this special New Orleans feature, those “backers” who pledge donations will also receive a few special perks courtesy of the filmmakers – such as an on-screen thank you, special Mardi Gras cups, a digital copy or DVD of the film, exclusive color photos from the production, autographed movie poster, exclusive soundtrack, and other wonderfully unique gifts – depending on the amount pledged. Check out the films’ Kickstarter page for a full rundown on the pledges and gifts.
The Kickstarter fundraising campaign for the film continues through Thursday, May 5th and the project will only be funded if their goal of $20,000 is met by that impending deadline. They only need to little bit more, so please join in and help this local production.
Beyond benefiting the making of a film that showcases the sounds and stories of these brass bands, the filmmakers want to create an archive and database for future generations to be able to access if they want to learn more about the history of New Orleans music. So your donations will not only help the film, but will also aid the preservation and collection of historical record. On this subject, the filmmakers state:
We’ve conducted so many interviews and filmed so many parades, second lines and concerts, that there is no way we’ll be able to fit it all into one film. Our goal is to donate copies of all the footage we’ve collected to the various educational resources in New Orleans so that future students, historians, and music lovers will be able to use it as a reference in their work or other pursuit.
Ultimately we wish to provide a way to preserve the culture and music we hold dear and honor the musicians we’ve worked with, all of whom have shown us tremendous generosity of spirit and goodwill.
All New Orleans (and Louisiana) film/television productions need the support of locals, both moral and monetary, or they may never have the chance to be seen. Show your support by helping out this film and/or many other New Orleans film projects.
Check out the film’s official blog for more information. And again, please visit the film’s kickstarter.com fundraising page to pledge help in order to get this local film production fully-funded and completed.
If you enjoyed this story, please subscribe and read Chris’s other articles here: hornface.com/indie-movie-in-new-orleans/chris-henson
You can also follow me on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/#!/thechrishenson