Local News Article - Welland Tribune and St. Catharines Standard
DOCUMENTARY: Out of work from Fort Erie slots, man takes time off to live dream
By Franki Ikeman, The Tribune
Monday, May 11, 2015 9:06:55 EDT AM Christopher Darton is pictured in the basement of his Port Colborne home. Darton has finished producing his first feature film, a documentary on the Kendall Wall Band, a blues band from Toronto. (Franki Ikeman/Tribune Staff/Postmedia Network)
At age 47, Christopher Darton was let go from a secure, good-paying job that he enjoyed when Slots at Fort Erie Race Track suddenly closed down.
He had no idea at that time that the next two years of his life would lead him to the near-release of his first finished film.
The Way We Was: The Story of the Kendall Wall Band is a full-length documentary about a Toronto house band central in the blues community in the 1980s.
Darton was born in Fort Erie to young parents who passed along to him a love of music. He describes himself as having been a crazy teenager with a group of friends that would just go out and make movies.
“We were never bad kids, just very creative,” he says.
The Sheridan College film graduate, now living in Port Colborne, has always known this was his path. He’s passionate about music, but says he never had the talent to make it in the business.
“For me, hanging around musicians and talking about music is the next best thing,” Darton says.
He liked his job at the slots, but said it was never something he was passionate about. He always wanted to make films, but needed the security of a steady job.
“It’s just never quite happened for me, but it never stopped me from doing it.”
Within about a week of losing his job at the slots, Darton received an e-mail from blues musician Gary Kendall. A press-release type e-mail sent to all of Kendall’s media and music contacts about the revival of the Kendall Wall Band recording — almost 25 years after it was originally recorded.
Kendall says he got a few supportive responses back from people, but nothing concrete like the response he got from Darton.
Darton says that as soon as he saw the e-mail from Kendall, he responded with, “This is a great story. When do we start shooting?”
Just like that, what originally was intended to be a short video about the revival of a band’s album turned into a feature film about this band’s place in a period of time.
The duo both said working together was a really good experience.
“He and I get along very well because he’s honest and straightforward and I like working with people like that,” says Kendall.
Having this period in his life preserved this way, by someone who gets it is a pretty big deal to him, Kendall says. Darton is a talented guy in his field and that people need to know who he is.
Through creating this film, Darton has had the opportunity to live his dream, and to meet and build connections with people he has looked up to in the industry.
He is still job-hunting, but says he’s happy staying at home with his dogs and spending time with his family and doing what he loves when he has the opportunity.
Darton and Kendall completed the film in the spring of 2014. Through a mutual contact in the industry, the pair got hooked up with eOne, which was willing to distribute the film.
Since that time, Darton has been trying to pull together the funds to make the film releasable. He says the film is collecting dust because of the cost of clearing the music copyright, an estimated $40,000 or more.
Darton has created a Kickstarter campaign to see if he can get the final touches put on the project, including the copyright, a final colour-correction and a final audio mix.
To learn more about The Way We Was: The Story of the Kendall Wall Band, visit www.kickstarter.com/projects/110996957/the-way-we-was-the-story-of-the-kendall-wall-band.