I've left a couple of minutes of the music to play out at the end of this video for your listening pleasure!
If you’re reading this, you most likely already know and love Bill Frisell’s music. I’m Emma Franz. My last film project was the award-winning feature film and music documentary, Intangible Asset Number 82. I also worked for many years as a professional musician, and I try to make films with a musical sensibility. I filmed Bill Frisell with unique access over 3 years in the USA, London and Italy, collecting a wide scope of wonderful footage from which I will create a portrait of this private and humble, yet extraordinary and significant artist. The film explores Frisell's ideas, music, history, events and the people who have been pivotal in his life as he helped to shape and reveal the potential of the guitar by developing his stunningly singular musical voice.
A unique and masterful guitarist, prolific composer and bandleader, Bill Frisell is widely credited as being one of the biggest influences upon the changing palette of guitar in the last few decades. Grammy Award winner and Downbeat Guitarist of the Year for ten consecutive years, Frisell is recipient of countless accolades from around the world. As he quietly expands upon a career that has thus far spanned over 250 albums - 26 in his own name – Frisell continues to garner recognition for collaborations with a huge variety of artists and stars, including Bono, Paul Simon, Sting, Gary Larson, Gus Van Sant, Brian Eno, Elvis Costello, Sam Shepard, Rickie Lee Jones, The Los Angeles Philharmonic, The Frankfurt Ballet, Marianne Faithful, Paul Motian, Hal Willner, Loudon Wainwright III, David Sanborn and Wim Wenders, to name but a few.
The film will paint a living, complex portrait of Frisell that will go beyond the ubiquitous interviews and archival experience. It will be centered around intimately observed and engaged footage of Frisell in an endless flow of creativity, as he collaborates with everyone from jazz giants, country stars, cartoonists, pop singers and avant-garde producers to symphonic orchestras. Influences and moments that shaped him unfold not as hearsay, but in real-time, as he reminisces and reinvents with people from his past who continue to leap with him towards the future.
When shooting, I framed the footage with the intention of sharing the sensation of ‘hanging out’ with Bill. This provides access to his thoughts and method, and when watching performances creates the feeling of watching Bill and his community of earth-shattering musical colleagues from the ‘front row’. Music footage includes the very last performance of Paul Motian’s Trio with Bill and Joe Lovano, Richter 858, the early days of the Beautiful Dreamers, a session at Fantasy Studios with Kenny Wollesen and Tony Scherr, a project with Mike Gibbs, Joey Baron and the BBC Symphony Orchestra, Jason Moran and the Majestic Strings with Buddy Miller and Marc Ribot.
Though this film focuses on live projects, processes, discussions and music performance, I am deeply grateful to the wonderful artists below (in no particular order) who further contributed their time and marvelous insights in interview:
Paul Motian, Ron Carter, Joe Lovano, Jack DeJohnette, Joey Baron, Jim Hall, McCoy Tyner, Paul Simon, Jason Moran, Bonny Raitt, Mike Gibbs, Kenny Wollesen, Tony Scherr, Nels Cline, Hal Wilner, Greg Cohen, Hank Roberts, Lucinda Williams, John Abercrombie, Lucinda Williams, Greg Leisz, Carole D’Inverno, Claudia Engelheart, Jim Woodring and others.
BUT WE NEED YOUR HELP…
Because I believe in Bill’s music and this film, I have worked on this project entirely unpaid over the last 4 years, and financed all of the shoots and related expenses from my own resources and the donations of 3 beautiful patrons of the arts. Now we need the participation of our global music community to bring this film to completion.
As well as basic rewards that give you the satisfaction of participating for as little as a couple of cups of coffee, there are some unique rewards, including a very limited release of a Bill Frisell concert with the covers individually hand-drawn by Bill himself, masterclasses, VIP screening and after-party invitations, backstage passes to visit Bill after a concert and more!
If you desire a higher level of commitment and recognition, scroll straight to the end and earn yourself an Associate Producer credit.
Of course it is also enormously helpful if you can simply help spread the word.
HOW YOUR PARTICIPATION MAKES A DIFFERENCE
This campaign is to edit the 150 hours of material and get the film to the stage of fine cut. Whilst we can’t yet offer the finished film as a reward, most of the rewards we do offer are immediately available (delivery date next to reward).
The goal of this campaign is to finish an initial rough cut of the film, through which to then procure the finishing funds for sound mix, colour grade, online and music licence fees. The fine cut will enable us to secure finishing funds in this current tough documentary film climate. As with all music films, the music license fees alone are massive (most of the quotes I was given were around $5,000 per 30 seconds…). So even if we near the goal of our campaign, please don’t be put off continuing to spread the word or to contribute, as the more money we can raise, the more fabulous music we can include.
Closer to completion, any contributors or participants of this campaign will have exclusive option to purchase copies of the film a week before its official release. They will further receive special offers for signed copies of the finished film, VIP screenings and more.
I am certainly not alone in having had the sensation that Frisell’s music seemed to be inexplicably speaking directly to me, in a way that few artists can achieve. I hear similar comments time and again from people I meet from all walks of life, all around the globe.
My own life experience includes twenty years working around the world as a professional musician. I have long admired Bill Frisell, feeling he encompasses everything that fascinates and excites me about music.
Frisell has already left a unique stamp on music, been artistically successful and critically acclaimed, yet remains an eternal student, always wanting to learn more and never afraid to try new things. With Frisell’s complexity and virtuosity as an artist, yet humble open-mindedness and constant self-challenging, he is a wonderful subject through which to explore some of the themes that interest me as a director; that is, the philosophies and motivations behind the creative process, and the power of music to broaden the mind and provide a way of learning more about oneself as well as others.
In my work and travels as a musician and a filmmaker, I bear constant witness to the importance of culture in our daily lives and the benefits it can bring. In an age where increasing emphasis is placed on celebrity and superficiality, where the trend is towards isolation and an increasing suspicion of cultures other than our own, it is important to be reminded that Music can be a source of self-expression, inspiration, consolation, transformation and fun.
We can learn so much from the artisans who continue to enrich our lives, and through deeper observations of their processes, philosophical enquiry, trials and triumphs, we can be stimulated to consider more deeply our own lives and actions and encouraged to greater things.
Through my intimate access to Frisell and the wide variety of projects and artists he collaborates with, I hope to create a layered piece that not only speaks volumes about the individual, but which also reveals a little of the mystery behind the music. I hope to enable viewers to enter Frisell’s wonderful, mysterious world, and, in doing so, gain a deeper understanding of philosophical ideas and motivations behind the creative process, and witness the power of music as a tool for understanding oneself and one’s environment.