In our feature-length documentary, A Marvelous Era, the existing Big Band Era is explored by four filmmakers journey across America by way of a campervan. The musicians in various major cities celebrate their value of art through the spirit of live music and their own live performances, careers and experiences. In addition to live shows, archived footage from the 20’s and 30’s of renowned Big Bands such as Tommy Dorsey, Glenn Miller, and Duke Ellington contrasts the way things once were in the Big Band Era, how it has survived, and surveys the future of the music industry as an electronic art form.
Beginning May 4th, 2012, our 4-man crew (director, producer, cinematographer, sound recorder) embarks on a forty-day journey across the United States spending a few days in each major city filming musicians from Jazz and Big Bands. We will conduct interviews with band members, photograph the landscape, as well as gathering footage of as many live performances as possible.
With $5,866 raised on our first kickstarter campaign, our crew is capable of completing the principle photography, which includes travel costs. The more money we raise however, above $5,000, allows us to purchase archived footage for the final cut of the documentary, funds for music rights, and fees for festival licenses, as well as distribution and marketing of the film. What is keep our costs down significantly is using our own DSLR cameras, sound and editing equipment.
The post-production process will take place over three months (Beginning June 2012) following the forty days of shooting. In that time span, we will conduct a completed ninety-minute documentary prepared to be submitted into festivals, and thereafter to be distributed on DVDs. Depending on the success of the film, we will be able to return the funding of the investors.
The intention of our feature documentary, “A Marvelous Era”, is to enlighten the joy and benefit of live art and live performance based on Jazz & Big Band music, while also identifying technology through the common progression of society. As culture progresses, fewer children are exposed to the fundamentals of instrumental music. They are consumed in a world of iPad’s, video games, and other electronic art forms, including electronic music, which is commonly called techno.
These newer methods of music require minimal aptitude (compared to those in an Orchestra or Big Band), where only one person utilizes a laptop and a turntable and is essentially playing pre-recorded sounds without the use of any musicians. Although there are countless talented artists and DJ’s, these current forms of musical entertainment are a departure from the mainstream music industry as it was in the 1920’s to even the late 1960’s with bandleaders such as Tommy Dorsey or Duke Ellington. The Big Band era of music constructed an opportunity for more than just one person to reap all the benefits as the artist. There was a trumpet section, trombone section, saxophone section, rhythm section, and singer(s). In present day all of those musicians are reduced to one individual who plays no instrument, and not even a singer, just hands pushing buttons. That’s scary! Not only for music, but also for any live performances.
While its true that big band music hasn't been and won't ever be as popular as it was in the 1940's, modern big band music has been able to eschew popular fads and transcend into legitimate art music. Our goal is to inform audiences of the tribulations of increasing technology, which often deters live art forms, and the value of the art with potential to create additional jobs in the live entertainment business. Another aspect we will incorporate is younger characters who play musical instruments, and those who are active in the electronic music community who share their knowledge of music and what’s to come in the future of the music industry.