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Danube Sounds - A film journey along the Danube
July 2011. Two old cars carrying a drum set, an accordion, video cameras, clothes, a double bass, tents piled on their roof tops. Inside the cars, two film makers - Ben and Sam, two musician brothers, Bastian and Raphael, two artists, Lotti and Fabi. Our plan was to travel down the Danube river, starting in South Germany and going through Austria, Hungary, Serbia and other countries before ending in Romania in the Black Sea. Some of us knew this river quite well since we grew up at its origin near the Black Forest. But although we spent the beginning of our life next to it, we never got to know the places it flows through. A record that a friend of ours had found in some shop in London sparked our interest - it was a collection of jazz electro music from Belgrade. Realising that there was a lot of interesting stuff going on that we knew very little about, we decided to search for more. Starting in our hometown, we traveled east, following the river.
There was little time we had before embarking on our journey and most of it we spend earning money for the trip and trying to fix our cars. So there was not much time for preparing the journey. Ben walked into the record shop across the street and made contact with some musicians from Hungary and Serbia. We talked to a few people, noted down some numbers. We couldn't tell anyone when we would arrive or how long we would stay. We took the journey one day at a time.
This way of travelling allowed us to drift from one encounter to the next, to find people as we travelled, rather than following a strict shooting plan. We met some locals in a bar In a little Serbian village, got drunk with them and stayed for a few days. We searched for musicians in a radio station in Budapest and filled our apartment with folk music fiddlers. We talked to some monks in a monastery in Donautal and recorded music in their church. We went into a fishing village in the Danube Delta and recorded the best singers of the village. We jammed in an abandoned shopping mall in Novi Sad and later squeezed into a tiny rehearsal studio to play some more. We camped on the river and made friends with the fishermen, we visited a wedding in a Hungarian village in Transylvania and in Belgrade we played with musicians of the very same electro jazz record that had caused our interest in this journey.
The material we brought back tells the stories of those encounters. It tells the stories of the wonderful and crazy people we met along the way. But most importantly, the material is full of the music these people played. The beauty and strength of this music is difficult to describe in words - so we ask you to watch the trailer. Or even better you should watch the whole film! But this film is not ready yet and this is precisely the problem that made us start this campaign.
What do we want to do now?
When we showed some raw material from the journey in a small cinema in Berlin, people loved it (we had to repeat the screening, and both times the cinema was completely sold out) and we knew this could become a wonderful film. But it turned out that doing the journey without any outside funding was one thing, while finishing the film was quite different. We would always have to focus on earning enough money to pay our rent, without giving the film the attention than it needs. We also need the help of other professionals to turn this film into the wonderful piece it deserves to be. We kindly ask you to help us finish the film.
What will happen with the film?
We are a young group of film makers and a small production company. We believe that traditional methods of film production and distribution are losing their meaning today and we want to experiment with alternative ways of bringing this film to its audience.
First of all, the film will be sent to festivals, and people in many different cities will enjoy it. This is nothing particularly new, but we love film festivals and believe in them.
Secondly, we are currently creating a network by working directly with cinemas, bars and other locations that can project our film. In this way, we want to release the film in the beginning of 2013 in many major cities in Germany and Europe, especially along the Danube river.
Thirdly, we will create a DVD and sell it on our own. If you donate 50 dollars or more, you will automatically get your own copy.
But it is the last idea that we find most exciting:
A website of music along the Danube
Danube Sounds is not a simple website for the film, but an addition to the film and an ongoing project. On the website, you can zoom in and out and scroll around a map of the Danube (a bit like google maps, only open source and much nicer). On the map there are film pieces, sound recordings, images or texts located where they were recorded. If you click on them, you can watch them. If you like a musician in the film, you can listen to more of their music, or watch a little interview. There will also be portraits of people and images of the landscape. This map features a lot more material than the film and it is open to everybody. You can navigate around, and watch the film in your own way.
When we returned from our journey along the Danube we realised that this had been just the beginning. We stayed in contact with many musicians, were visited by some in Berlin, did some more recordings with them. We also want to visit more places, invite musicians from one place to play with musicians from another part of the Danube. All this will be shared on the webpage that will be constantly extended.
What we need
Now we need money to finish the film and construct the website. We have already found a wonderful editor for the website, people to do the sound editing, the colour correction, designers and a programer for the website. We need to pay these people, we have to fund some of our own work and we have to cover costs for the webpage hosting, the editing suite or submission fees and a Beta-Tape of the film needed for festivals.
For all this, 7000 Euro is quite a modest amount, but we know we can do it with this money. If we do not manage to get all we have asked for, we can still finish the film and webpage. The people involved believe so much in this project, they would also do it for less money. But they might not be able to dedicate as much love and attention to the work as they would like.
You can do more than give money. First, you can let other people know about this project. Visit us on facebook, connect to our twitter account or simply send out an email to your friends or talk to them. Make them watch our video and they will understand what this is about! Each person you tell about us helps. After all we are not only after money but also people who take interest in the film and the music we have recorded. Secondly, you can make contact with local cinemas or bars with a projector and help us show the film there once it is launched. And if you are living nearby the Danube and you know musicians or places you would want us to visit and do more filming, share the knowledge with us!
Who we are
Wrangelfilm is a small production company and collective of film makers based in Kreuzberg, Berlin. Our documentary projects include a music film about the Amsterdam DJ Marcelle, a documentary film about a homeless person in Berlin, and an open source film project. Ben Mergelsberg is the director of Danube Sounds. He directed most of Wrangelfilm's documentary films. He is currently preparing a music road movie in Mozambique.
Team on This Campaign: