Monday, November 15, 2010

Mountain Music -- The Movie

Last year I was asked to direct a three-minute documentary for MTV. This was for their show $5 Cover and the short films were companion pieces called B-sides. Several filmmakers made shorts for the show and as far as I know MTV has never done anything with them.

They wanted us to do something about the Seattle music scene, but not a typical Seattle music story. So my producing partner and I settled on a band called The Tallboys that plays old time mountain music. Two of the band members, Charmaine Li-Lei Slaven and Charlie Beck, have another band called Squirrel Butter with just the two of them.

Since I always look for the emotion in any story and focus on that it became clear that the story was really about Charmaine, the female member of the band. She had the most compelling story and we had to focus on just one person. We only had three minutes.

She was a great subject and there was a bunch of cool stuff that we just couldn’t put in the film.

Anyway, I just wanted to share this with you guys because I don’t want to be one of those people who writes about filmmaking and never does anything himself.

Hope you enjoy the film.

Squirrel Butter and the Tall Boys Old Time music from Marcus Donner on Vimeo.


Joon Kim said...

It's a lovely piece, Brian. Don't mind saying I slightly teared up at her expressing a bit of regret about not playing when her father was around.

Brian McD said...

Thanks, Joon.

imyjimmy said...

This reminds me of how Michael Jordan's father died and Michael decided to do baseball. Check it out:

You have to start the video a minute in.

Ted M said...

Really great! Thanks for sharing.

Christine said...

Hey Brian just watched this for the first time, and it really made me feel good - I loved hearing her talk about her music in relation to her dad. Also, the music was fun!

Unknown said...

About 2 1/2 years since you posted this, but what a great story you told here. After reading all your blog posts (up to this point) I saw a lot of the things you write about displayed in this 3 minutes. You even fade out to define the different acts in the story!

Brian McD said...


Thanks for the comment. I will say that I worked with a great editor named Holly Houser and she put those fades in there. One of my favorite things about directing is letting creative people contribute their strengths with only a nudge from me here and there.

I usually like to give people a framework and thematic direction for the piece and I let them solve the creative problems of their particular job.

But, yes, I do think that we used many of the elements that I write about. These things aren't theories to me they are practical. I'm happy that this film turned out in a way that shows that.

Thanks for noticing. And thanks for writing.