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Parkinson's disease has limited Sangeeta Michael Berardi's technique, but has not diminished his desire to make music or live fully.
118 backers pledged $10,921 to help bring this project to life.

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$10,921

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THE DOCUMENTARY

Parkinson's disease has limited the way legendary jazz guitarist Sangeeta Michael Berardi plays, but not his desire to keep making music any way he can. Now, eleven years after his diagnosis and no longer the technical virtuoso he once was, he is going into a recording studio again, joining with some of the musicians from his past to make a new CD called "Playing with Parkinson's". 

Sangeeta is not only a musician who has played and recorded with many jazz greats, but also a writer, painter, poet, philosopher, meditator – the name "Sangeeta" means Divine Song – and, once, in 1958 when he was 18, a bank robber (the idea was to get enough money to just play music).  He has no illusions about where the path of Parkinson's (or Mr. P as he calls it) ultimately leads ("Maybe God will be kind", he says, "and let me get hit by a train or a truck and I won't even see it coming.").  But that will be then.  Meanwhile, this is now and Sangeeta fills each moment with courage, determination, zero self-pity and plenty of joy.

The recording session is planned for June when Sangeeta will be entering a studio for the first time since the advent of his Parkinson's.  "My goal" he says, "is to take the tremors of  Parkinson's and turn them into into unique rhythms and sound. My instruments will be the guitar, of course ,though not like before, but I'll also bring bowls and spoons, or my pill containers in a bag, or my compromised voice, or almost anything that serves as an extension of Mr. P, for he is as much a presence in this recording as the other musicians. I won't be able to keep up with these amazing players instrumentally nor do I expect them to limit themselves to what I can or can't do, either.  The challenge will be to see whether we can merge on a new common ground based on sound, intention and what I like to call the "'virtuosity of the soul.''"

Yes, this is a film about music. And Parkinson's. And the conversion of "disabilities" into new abilities.  But, at it's heart, this is a film about the human spirit, transcendence and the everyday heroes (the last word Sangeeta would use about himself) walking among us.

WHAT WE NEED

We have been filming Sangeeta, on and off, since last summer, both in the San Francisco area where he lives and in Upstate, NY, his former home, through the help of some early donors.  Now comes the critical time as Sangeeta is coming East for the recording session, the planning, the rehearsals and the two days in the studio with five other musicians. We had budgeted (tightly) for this phase of the production and thought we had funding in place, but it has either disappeared or been delayed. So we are turning to the Kickstarter community for assistance.  If we make our goal, the project continues.  If we exceed it, the additional funds go toward editing, sound design, color correction and all the other items in our post-production budget.  And if we don't, I consult with Sangeeta about the finer points of bank robbery.

WHERE THE MONEY GOES

Bringing Sangeeta East and helping to pay for his expenses while here; filming Sangeeta and music director John Esposito as they sketch out the music and plan the recording; filming one day of rehearsals and two days of recording with a crew of three camerapeople using top-end HD equipment (rented to us at a big discount!); renting the recording studio; paying the musicians; feeding musicians and crew on location; local travel; and the ever useful miscellaneous category for the unexpected as well as whatever I forgot to mention.  

HOW IT WORKS/WHAT YOU GET IN RETURN 

You begin by making a pledge, no money is given now. You're only required to make good on your pledge if we meet our goal ($9.500 by June 8).  On the side of this page you see various levels of pledges, and the rewards for each.  If you want to make a pledge you click on the level you want.  Note each pledge level is followed by the words "or more", which means your pledge can be anywhere from that amount to one dollar less than the amount of the pledge for the next level.  So, for instance, you could pledge for $100  but actually make your  pledge anywhere from $100 to $174, which is just before the next pledge level of $175. In return for your pledge, we offer a variety of rewards depending on the pledge level.  Each successive level has a different reward, and most (but not all) levels not only give the reward for that level but also the ones for the preceding level.  Some of the rewards are material, like CDs and DVDs, drawings and even ring tones.  Some are less tangible, like your name in the credits on our website and on the film.  None are compulsory.  You can choose to take them, or leave them, as you see fit. Either way, one reward will always remain: the knowledge that you helped this film get made and, more importantly, seen.   

GIVING BACK 

If we reach our goal, Kickstarter takes 5% of whatever we've raised for their administrative fees.  We're going to take another 5% of whatever we raise and donate it to Parkinson's Unity Walk, an annual grassroots event in New York's Central Park where 100% of all donations raised goes directly to Parkinson's research.  We were led there by the amazing Nobuko Cobi Narita, tireless supporter of jazz musicians and other artists in the New York area for more than 35 years and who, at 85 and also with Parkinson's, organizes and leads a team of marchers in this event every year.

UPDATE AS OF JUNE 3rd. WE'VE MADE IT!!!

Yesterday we reached our kickstarter goal and we're deeply grateful to everyone, both those who pledged and those who believed in this project and supported us in so many ways. We paused for a BIG sigh of relief (the first since we began).  But now, while our fundraising clock is still kicking, we'd like to devote our final four KS days to gathering funds toward the next phase of the project: post-production,or editing, which is where the final film comes together.  So any additional funds we can raise in the precious time remaining will be a big "kickstart" (sorry!) to this process. Thank you.

And now we'd like to leave you with footage we shot just yesterday. It is of Sangeeta, who had only arrived in Woodstock a few hours earlier from the West coast, trying out a variety of bowls at the world famous Woodstock Chimes, courtesy of it's owner, Garry Kvistad, selecting the ones he will be using in the recording session.

Questions about this project? Check out the FAQ

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    Pledge $1 or more About $1.00

    Our everlasting gratitude (which holds true for every donation at whatever level)

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    Contributor credit on our website, "thank you" credit on the film.

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    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    Autographed copy of Sangeeta's 1996 Album," Earthship", contributor credit on our website and "thank you" credit on the finished film, DVD of finished film.

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    Autographed copy of Kendra Shank's "Abbey Lincoln Songbook" CD, contributor credit on the website and "thank you" credit on the finished film, DVD of finished film.

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    Any CD from John Esposito's Sunjump Recorda (www.sunjumprecords.com), contributor credit on the website and "thank you" credit on the finished film, DVD of finished film.

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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    Pre-release digital downloads from the "Playing with Parkinson's" CD, plus one of the CDs from the previous rewards, contributor credit on the website and "thank you" credit on the film, DVD of finished film.

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    Pledge $75 or more About $75

    Autographed copies of the finished CD, "playing with Parkinson's", plus one of the CDs from the previous rewards, contributor credit on the website and "thank you" credit on the finished film, DVD of finished film.

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    Autographed copy of the finished CD and the three CDs from the previous rewards, plus "special thanks" credit on the website and on the finished film, DVD of finished film.

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    Pledge $150 or more About $150

    Your personalized ring tone. Sangeeta's motto is: "You don't need an instrument to make music, just grab the nearest bowl and stir". And he will stir a unique ring tone on his bowls for your programmable cell phone which we will send you as an audio file. Also all the CDs previously mentioned and a "special thanks" mention on the website and on the finished film, DVD of finished film.

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    Pledge $200 or more About $200

    Be a consutlting editor! From time to time, as the film is being edited, you will receive digital downloads of sections of the documentary in progress. Not only will you see this footage in advance of the release of the finished film but you will have the opportunity to submit comments and suggestions about it. If we accept your suggestions, you'll see them reflected in the final edit and you'll know you had a role in shaping the completed documentary. We often do this with friends and family as we go along, anyway, so this is just extending that circle to the Kickstarter community. You also receive all the CD's offered in the previous rewards along with a "Consulting Editor" title on the website and on the finished film, and an autographed DVD (standard or Blue Ray) when it is completed.

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    Pledge $300 or more About $300

    Autographed DVD of "Joe Williams: A Portrait in Song", Burrill's hour-long documentary on the majestic blues and jazz singer, Joe Williams. Shot with five cameras of Joe's performance with the Count Basie orchestra in 1996, just a short year before Joe died. Along with the concert the film also contains interviews with Joe and others in the Basie band, archival film footage, and the grace and magic of Joe Williams himself, one of the great voices of American 20th Century music. This film, the only full length documentary ever made about Joe Williams, has only been seen at film festivals and other screenings, always with high acclaim. It has not been broadcast nor is it available commercially on DVD but 10 copies are available, courtesy of Monk Rowe and the Hamilton College Jazz Archive. You also get a "Joe Williams Fan" credit on the website and finished film, and the CDs and DVD from previous rewards. As a preview, you can see two lengthy clips from the film at: www.burrillcrohn.com/Burrills_films/Joe_Williams%3B_A_Portrait_in_Song.html

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    The gourmet twofer (especially if you live in or near NYC)! You get a Joe Williams DVD plus $100 gift certificate to Bruce Buschel's great restaurant in Bridgehampton, NY (yes, the Hamptons), devoted to sustainable sea food and local vegetables, fruit, cheese and wine. You can see photos and reviews, plus a link to the blog he's been writing for the New York Times for close to two years about conceiving, building, opening and maintaining a new restaurant at: www.southforkkitchen.com/welcome.html.

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    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    Drawing with Parkinson's artwork! Sangeeta has been a visual artist his whole life, and he wasn't going to let Parkinson's stop him. Even though sometimes his hands shake so badly that he has trouble feeding himself, when he draws – and he does so often – he is usually able, through meditation (and maybe a little herb), to control his tremors sufficiently to set pen to page. Once there, the trick becomes knowing when the tremors are about to return so he can quickly lift up his hand before they take over. But he also has another style of drawing that purposelessly lets his hands give in to the tremors and then letting them guide his hand and become the author of the drawings. His work, both pre-and post Parkinson's, is both unique and captivating, and we're offering some of it here. You have a choice of either three signed 9x12" B&W post-Parkinson's black ink drawings, or one signed 11x14" multi-color drawing. You see a video of showing some of Sangeeta's work and how he does it here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=6C8eT4xyn3U. As an extra bonus you also get an autographed copy of his 9x12" coloring book," Colors in the Morning Sky", first printed in 1973, along with a Supporter of the Arts credit on the website and in the finished film and, of course, the CDs and DVD from previous rewards.

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    Pledge $600 or more About $600

    Working on a documentary yourself (or thinking about it)? Need some help? Burrill Crohn, will give up to 10 hours of consultation by phone (Skype, too), email or maybe in-person if you're in or near Woodstock, NY. Further away is possible but would involve travel and other expenses, which would be additional. Burrill has been making or working on documentaries for over 30 years and his work been seen on broadcast and cable television stations around the world, at film festivals, the Library of Congress and The Museum of Broadcasting (and is in their permanent collection). He won a Cable ACE award (now an EMMY) for his HIstory of Jazz series. He not only produces and directs but also a shoots (in different formats) edits (FCP 7), does sound and, where called for, writes narration. He can help you with any and all of these and more (e.g., grant writing, budgeting, etc.). A short bio and links are at the bottom of the page.

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    Doing a feature film (or thinking about it)? Need some help or advice? You'll get it from Jack Baran, a Hollywood insider (though no longer living there) who has done it all: from acting to directing, from executive producing to editing, from screen writing to music composition, from line producing to, well, just about everything. He has been involved with over 50 films (some for TV) including Great Balls of Fire (screenplay), Single White Female (executive producer), Barfly (associate producer, original music) and Glen and Randa (assistant director). For a full listing of Jack's credits go IMDB (imdb.com).

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    Pledge $1,500 or more About $1,500

    Invitation for two to attend one day of the recording session on either June 11 or 12th at NRS studios near Saugerties, NY. Dinner on us with Sangeeta and Burrill (and any of the musicians who might join us) in one of Woodstock's fine restaurants (wine, beer, etc., not included), an associate producer credit on the website, CD and film along with any of the CDs or DVDs of previous rewards and the selection of Sangeeta's drawings. (This offer does not include travel costs and accommodations, which are your responsibility.)

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    Pledge $2,250 or more About $2,250

    Same as above but invitation is for both days of recording.

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    Pledge $3,500 or more About $3,500

    A videotaped bowl session with Sangeeta wherever you are (within reason) in the continental United States. Sangeeta will show you, your family and friends, or even larger group, the joy of making music by grabbing the nearest bowl and stirring. This could also be done in your local hospital or other treatment facility. Music heals!! Burrill comes and videotapes the event and sends it to you, after editing, on a DVD (standard or Blue Ray). Co-producer credit on website and finished film, a DVD of the finished film and all the other CDs or DVDs of previous rewards, and a selection of Sangeeta's drawings..

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    Talk to us. We'll work out something good.

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Funding period

- (30 days)