Two years ago, after first ignoring an email from film director Andrew Wall, I agreed to meet him to discuss the possibility of Refuge 31 Films doing a feature-length documentary on my career.
Initially, I wasn’t very keen for a number of reasons. First, I didn’t think there was a compelling story because I essentially do the same thing week after week…only in different locations. I couldn’t quite imagine that there were enough points of interest to make for a good documentary.
Secondly, assuming the project would be costly, I assured Andrew that I didn’t have funds to put toward a film.
On the first point, Andrew simply disagreed saying that I was not the best one to discern if there was a story to tell. On the second point, he assured me that the film would be produced independently of me—that it would not be my film, but his (Refuge 31 Films), and it would be his responsibility to raise the needed funds. On the third point, a bit of research disclosed that Andrew was a first-rate documentary maker, and I had no basis for concern.
Andrew’s own interest in my work started a couple years earlier. His young daughter was having night terrors and Andrew and his wife were desperate to find something to help ease her fears. Andrew doesn’t remember how they came into possession of one of my CDs but he discovered a copy of Solace in his collection, still in the shrink-wrap, and he recalled me from his own high school days when I once performed for the MBCI student body. As the story goes, one night he popped the CD into the player in his daughter’s room, the fears subsided and she slept soundly for the first time in a while. When night after night the music brought her a measure of peace, he decided to look into my work more closely and soon developed an interest in pursuing a documentary.
So Andrew and crew followed my manager Dave Z. and I around for the better part of a year. They started in California with a concert I performed at CBS Studios at the request of CBS president Michael Klausman. They followed us across the United States and across the breadth of Canada from coast to coast. They filmed tiny solo concerts in rural towns; they followed my band across the frozen prairies on a mid-winter tour; they captured a rare concert I did with English poet Malcolm Guite; they captured highlights of a concert with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra; and they followed me to New York City where I spent several days in meetings with a team of social entrepreneurs who were helping me discern and implement strategies to enable my work to have a presence where it might have the greatest impact.
It turned out to be an unusually interesting year with a broad range of events and experiences from which to make a documentary, which subtly asks the question, “How does one define success?” The film debuted in Winnipeg last fall and has since been released it for sale on DVD.
Andrew’s team is now working on getting it to television markets around the world. Currently it is showing in New Zealand, Australia, Indonesia, Romania and the UK. They are working on markets in Canada and the USA. Watch for announcements.
In the meantime, the film has been selected for several film festivals and is racking up a respectable number of awards. In February, the film won Best Feature Documentary at Winnipeg’s Real to Reel Film Festival and the laurels are building into quite a nice bouquet.
So…we’d like to celebrate a little by offering a spring discount for those of you who might like to purchase and view the documentary. The DVD comes with bonus features which include, among other things, a director’s cut where Andrew, myself and radio personality Kyle Rudge talk through the film and discuss details the film doesn’t cover. Also included is a bonus audio CD of the film’s music.
Thanks and congratulations to Andrew Wall for the dedication to his craft that makes for compelling films. Thanks to Refuge 31 Films for the keen interest and risk inherent in a venture like this. Thanks so much for the investors (mostly Winnipeg folks) who provided the funds. And thanks to the film crew and post production team whose work is being recognized by the awards that are pouring in.
If you’d like to see the documentary, you can wait until it shows in your area, or you may purchase it on DVD for $23.99— but please take advantage of a spring sale and use the following code to get an additional 25% off until June 15.
Use the code BE25 at check-out to receive the 25% discount.
ps: When the film was done, we were so impressed by the work Andrew and team had done, we hired them to do the music video for my recent single, Turn It Around: