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$1,396
pledged of $25,000pledged of $25,000 goal
24
backers
18days to go

All or nothing. This project will only be funded if it reaches its goal by Fri, April 12 2019 4:03 PM UTC +00:00.

Sam OsbornBy Sam Osborn
First created
Sam OsbornBy Sam Osborn
First created
$1,396
pledged of $25,000pledged of $25,000 goal
24
backers
18days to go

All or nothing. This project will only be funded if it reaches its goal by Fri, April 12 2019 4:03 PM UTC +00:00.

About

Universe is a documentary about a suite of jazz compositions that were thought to be lost to time. The music was born from the pen of Wayne Shorter, passed through the hands of Miles Davis, and finally debuted fifty years later by Wallace Roney and his orchestra. 

In telling the story of the music, which we're calling "The Universe Compositions," we're telling the stories of these three jazz giants--Wayne Shorter, Miles Davis, and his protege Wallace Roney.

In the words of Vince Wilburn, Miles Davis' nephew,"Finding Universe is like finding the Holy Grail of music."    

The Story

At the height of the Miles Davis Quintet’s fame in 1968, Wayne Shorter wrote a suite of orchestral jazz songs entitled “The Universe Compositions.” Intended for a 24-piece orchestra, the compositions were immense, ambitious works that answered the call of psychedelic rock-n-roll, cool jazz, and the rigors of classical music. 

When Miles first saw the sheet music, he looked up at Shorter and said, “I asked for a song and you gave me a fuckin' symphony." 

Wayne Shorter and Miles Davis in the years of the Second Great Quintet
Wayne Shorter and Miles Davis in the years of the Second Great Quintet

The Second Great Quintet had begun rehearsing the compositions when the band dissolved. As the quintet fell apart, The Universe Compositions were lost. It was Miles’ final request to Wayne Shorter before he passed away in 1991 that he “find the music.” 

Fifty years after their disappearance, The Universe Compositions find their way into the hands of Miles’ protege, Wallace Roney.  Over the course of our documentary, Wallace must confront his own demons in order to step out of his mentor’s shadow and record the music. 

 To best understand the stories of Miles Davis, Wallace Roney and the fifty years in which their lives were intertwined, we’ve structured our film around each composition in the suite of music, with each song painting a new portrait of these men. Our documentary Universe tells the story of these four compositions over the course of their fifty year journey from the composer’s pen to their eventual performance hall debut. In taking that path, we’re able to tell a new story about Miles Davis—the story of Miles as a mentor. 

"Miles Davis passed along knowledge to Wallace Roney that he didn't pass along to anybody else. That's why Wallace is Miles' successor." -- Lenny White.

Wallace Roney playing with Miles Davis at "Miles at Montreaux."
Wallace Roney playing with Miles Davis at "Miles at Montreaux."

The Film

From the moment we heard that Wallace had recovered the compositions and was planning on recording them (sometime in December 2015) we've been primarily working on this film Universe

By "we" I mean Sam Osborn and Nick Capezzera (hi). We're the directors behind such films as "Life on Mars" for The New York Times, "Night Shift" for Topic Studios, "Circle of Poison" for Al Jazeera, "Recollect" for Jazz at Lincoln Center, and all sorts of other documentaries for outlets like Vice News, Vox, GQ, etc. 

We've completed the production process, having shot all the rehearsals, studio recording days, and debut of The Universe Compositions, along with hours and hours of verite footage with Wallace. We've also filmed dozens of interviews with the likes of Wayne Shorter, representatives of the Miles Davis Estate, Lenny White, Buster Williams, and all manner of critics, producers, and musicians who have come into contact with this music over the last fifty years. 

Buster Williams, the conductor, and the record producer poring over Wayne Shorter's work.
Buster Williams, the conductor, and the record producer poring over Wayne Shorter's work.

So what do we need the money for? 

The hurdle we currently face is that there is a gap between the funds raised for production (now completed) and the funds currently being raised in private equity to complete post-production (incoming, fingers-crossed). To fill this gap and keep the film progressing toward a rough edit, we're asking for $25,000. These funds will go toward employing our editing team (editor, assistant editor, archival producer) for enough time to cover our gap in financing. The remaining funds will go to Kickstarter for its cut. 

Our Team

Sam and Nick are backed up by a trio of incredible producers that are integral to the creative direction of the film. They're behind such film as "25 to Life," which won the CNN Grand Jury Prize at American Black Film Festival and "3 1/2 Minutes," and "The Life of Notorious BIG" for A&E.

The filmmaking team with Wayne Shorter.
The filmmaking team with Wayne Shorter.

The story of Wallace Roney and The Universe Compositions is the story of missing links. Universe is the piece of music that would have bridged two eras of jazz. It is the masterpiece that Miles Davis never recorded. And for Wallace Roney, it is the bridge between mentorship and mastery. 

Risks and challenges

Since this campaign covers the funds required for our gap between financing, it doesn't ensure that our documentary will be completed. As with all films, there are a variety of factors that determine the path a film takes to our movie theaters.

That said, we've all been working and fighting for this film tooth and nail for the past three years. We're all completely dedicated to finishing and releasing the film alongside the music.

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Support

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    The Playlist

    We'll share the Spotify playlist of music that has inspired us throughout the making of this documentary.

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    The Alt Poster

    Digital download of an alternate hand-drawn poster/wallpaper + the playlist.

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    Universe: the film

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    Universe: the film + the soundtrack

    Once they're completed, a digital download of both the documentary and the soundtrack.

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    The Poster (and the film to go with it)

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    Tickets to a Wallace Roney Show

    Two tickets to the next tri-state area Wallace Roney concert.

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    Universe: A Concierto for Miles Davis

    We filmed every second of the concert debut of Universe with a multi-cam setup. We'll give you the full concert as an entirely separate film. The final documentary of Universe will only feature about 10-15 minutes of the full concert. This will be the entire show.

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    A Night Out

    Dinner with our team! This might seem goofy, but we'd love to take you out in NYC to show our appreciation for your support.

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    VIP Screening

    We'll screen the final cut of the film at a private venue before it's premiered publicly.

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