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Documentary-in-progress, about legendary record producer Tom Wilson.
Documentary-in-progress, about legendary record producer Tom Wilson.
101 backers pledged $27,455 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

Marshall Crenshaw film project: "Tom Wilson's World" project video thumbnail
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2/16/16 UPDATE:

We're now just past the one-week mark, a good time to check in.. We got off to a nice, rousing start; I was super-pleased by that. I want to express much gratitude to everyone who has contributed so far; I've been delighted by every contribution. Whatever you've been able to throw into the bucket, it's hugely appreciated. And, if you have friends that enjoy music and/or films, please encourage them to get on board too!!!!...

One question that I got asked a lot when I first got started on this project was, "Is there any film footage of Tom Wilson? Any audio? Will people be able to see, hear, and get a sense of this person when they see the movie about him?". As of now I know the answer to be a big fat YES! We've discovered that there's tons of still-unseen film footage of him in his element and in his heyday, AND we know of lots of places to look for more; the ongoing process of discovery has already begun. There's lots and lots of audio material too, beginning of course with the 40 one-hour "Music Factory" syndicated radio shows that Wilson produced and hosted during the late '60s wherein he interviews people like Tim Buckley, The Velvet Underground, The Cowsills, fellow legendary-producers Teddy Reig and Artie Ripp, Dave Van Ronk, Sam the Sham, Frank Zappa, Johnny Tillotson (!!), many more.. And of course there are (still-unreleased) illuminating moments, conversations contained on unedited master tapes; later this month I'm going to a private listening session to check out some of that stuff. The movie that we want to make will bring a lot of incredible archive material to light for the first time, will be a feast for the eyes, ears, and souls of music fans.

On the last two Saturday nights of this campaign I'll be re-airing the two editions of my radio show (The Bottomless Pit, WFUV and wfuv.org, Saturdays @ 10PM EST)  that I did back in Oct. 2013, right after Irwin Chusid's website was launched (www.producertomwilson.com). After doing the shows, I wanted more. There's a huge gap in the Historical Record of Popular Music where Wilson's story, in detail and depth, should be. Anyway, these radio shows were the start of Me being pulled down into this rabbit-hole..

Again, massive, huge thanks to everyone that's pledged so far.

watch this space...,

MC

Hello, and thanks for your interest.. The goal of this campaign is to create a fundraising trailer for a documentary about legendary record producer Tom Wilson. It was he who signed The Velvet Underground to Verve/MGM Records and produced their first two albums, signed Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention to Verve/MGM Records and produced their first three albums, became Bob Dylan's record producer in 1962 (halfway through "The Freewheeling Bob Dylan" album), continuing through 1965 and "Like a Rolling Stone" (the period during which Dylan gradually "went electric"), produced the first album by then-acoustic Folk duo Simon and Garfunkel ("Wednesday Morning, 3 AM"), then seriously launched their career by unilaterally deciding to add electric instruments to "The Sound of Silence" (Legendary record producer John Simon told me that he thought that Wilson did it as an "intellectual exercise"). Wilson "discovered" Sun Ra and The Arkestra, producing and releasing their first two albums on Transition Records, a label that Wilson established right after graduating Cum Laude from Harvard in 1955. Wilson "discovered" Cecil Taylor and produced his first album, "Jazz Advance", for the Transition label. These are just the bullet points of Wilson's artistic legacy; to put it in a nutshell, he was a visionary, someone that moved the Culture, saw the future and set about helping to create it, was one of the architects of Popular Music as we've known it since the 1960s and still know it today... And up until just recently he was pretty much a forgotten figure.

To personalize this, I got hooked on the idea of a Tom Wilson documentary back in October, 2013, when my friend Irwin Chusid launched this superb website (www.producertomwilson.com), which I encourage you to peruse. I looked it over, then wrote to Irwin and said, "Irwin, this guy was a f#cking giant! And where's the recognition?" I then proceeded to do two weeks in a row of my radio show ("The Bottomless Pit", 10 PM EST, Saturday nights on WFUV) in honor of TW; these shows were wonderfully well-received, but the whole story stayed in my head and wouldn't leave. Finally, I wrote to Irwin again and said "I'm thinking that I should make the documentary myself. Am I nuts?" He wrote back and said "Not necessarily..", and so now, here we are.. At this point it's an obsession: I wake up in the morning and I'm thinking about it, go to bed at night and I'm thinking about it, etc.

As I mention in the video (many thanks to Emery Ruger and Ledgerock Studio!!), I've already begun shooting the film, conducting interviews... Ultimately the film will be a team effort of course, but up to now it's been just me (working with some great camerapersons!). Achieving the fundraising goal here will enable me to move things to the next phase. (And, my sense is that it'll enable a goodly percentage of the shooting and editing of the project. With music documentaries, of course, the bulk of the budget goes for licensing fees, and that will ultimately be the case here..)

Here's a short list of individuals who I'll call, at this point, "Allies, Consultants, and Interested Parties": Robert Stone (celebrated documentary filmmaker), Craig Street, John Simon (legendary record producers), Warren Zanes, PhD., Judy Tint (Attorney, long-time Rhythm and Blues Foundation Board member), Dave Marsh (author, music-lover, host of Sirius/XM's "Kick Out the Jams"), Bob Merlis (publicist, author, beloved figure), Gary Graff (music journalist, author), musicologist Irwin Chusid (it's all his fault), and filmmaker/TV producer George Billard. This list is growing; part of the process that I'm going through now is engaging with possible collaborators. Again, ultimately there'll be a team in place..

I'm determined to make this happen, won't rest until it happens! At the risk of sounding cute, I've already seen the movie in my head, and it's GOOD....

Risks and challenges

I believe at this time that I have the right range of contacts to make the Universe smile on this project, and to get all the right doors to open..

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    VIRTUAL HIGH-FIVE!
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    All of the above, plus an autographed "Tom Wilson's World" t-shirt (choice of 2 designs).

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    Skype Q and A, plus 8x10 photo of MC and one of the film's interview subjects (choose among 3), signed and personalized by MC..

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    All of the above, plus an invitation to the first NYC screening of the film, to be attended by Me, and who knows who else ?!?!

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    All of the above, plus an MC house concert, within the Continental US, within a mutually agreeable time-frame.

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Funding period

- (30 days)