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$7,097 pledged of $23,000 goal
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By jessica robinson
$7,097 pledged of $23,000 goal
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About this project

SYNOPSIS:

The Man on The Fifth Floor is a feature length documentary about award-winning composer Gerald Busby, best known for composing the score to Robert Altman’s 3 Women (1977). The film brings the audience inside Gerald's home in the fabled Chelsea Hotel, and chronicles Gerald’s career highs, his drug highs, and his slide into the abyss -- and back. This is a story of love, music, success, AIDS, loss, addiction -- and recovery.

Gerald Busby, 2010
Gerald Busby, 2010

WHY THIS FILM MATTERS:

In 2007 I opened the pages of The New York Times and saw my friend Gerald Busby, someone I ‘d known for ten years, featured in their “Neediest Cases” section. Even though I knew Gerald was not in good shape financially, I hadn’t realized the full scope. The article pointed out that, “...Mr. Busby lives on $658 a month from Social Security, supplemented by $78 in disability payments and $156 in food stamps.”

Gerald Busby is a contemporary composer who’s written over 300 compositions in all genres -- among his most celebrated works are the score for Robert Altman’s film 3 Women, Paul Taylor’s ballet Runes, the Joffery Ballet’s Court Dances, and Craig Lucas’ opera Orpheus in Love.A child piano prodigy, Gerald graduated from Yale University in 1960. He moved to New York City, where he enjoyed a quintessentially wild and wooly life in the fabled Chelsea Hotel during the ’70’s and ‘80’s.

In 1984 Busby and his life partner/ business manager of 16 years, Sam Byers, were diagnosed HIV positive.

As Sam became sicker and sicker, Gerald numbed himself with drugs. ​By the time Sam died, in 1994, Gerald was more than $100,000 in debt, and a crack addict. He composed nothing between 1995 and 2001. Six years of Gerald’s life, lost to addiction.

In November 2011, while talking about Gerald over lunch with my niece, a light bulb went off in my head: I MUST TELL HIS STORY.

How did he spend his time? Where did he get the money to pay for the drugs? What was he thinking? Feeling? And finally, how did this man, whose life was so up-ended by AIDS and drugs, find the inner strength and the courage to become clean and sober, turn himself around, and begin to compose again?  With your help, we can find out.

The Man on The Fifth Floor is comic, tragic, joyful, disturbing, sympathetic and ultimately triumphant.

Jessica and Gerald
Jessica and Gerald

THE FILM

Through interviews and archival footage the film traces Gerald’s lost years, his attempts, failures, and further attempts to kick his drug habit. Ultimately we discover the new Gerald, a man who triumphed over his addiction, and came back from the edge.

Gerald Busby’s story is intimately connected to a number of important chapters in New York City’s history: life and art in the Chelsea Hotel; the AIDS epidemic; drugs; gay rights.

The details of Busby’s story incorporate many of today's social issues: Medicaid, Social Security, Welfare, food stamps, and housing (Busby is one of the last remaining tenants of the Chelsea Hotel. The hotel was sold in 2012).

Paul Taylor's "Runes", original music by Gerald. (photography courtesy of Andrea Mohin/The New York Times)
Paul Taylor's "Runes", original music by Gerald. (photography courtesy of Andrea Mohin/The New York Times)

STATUS OF THE PROJECT:

“The Man on the Fifth Floor” is in production. We have over 30 hours of interviews with Gerald Busby, his friends, and his collaborators. We also have archival footage, photographs, and artifacts from Gerald’s life and career. Finally, we have a great and talented team of people committed to making this film happen. But…

We need your help to continue.

This is our first fundraising campaign. $23,000 is the bare minimum we need to cover the expenses we have incurred thus far, and to propel this project forward. As with all Kickstarter projects, if we do not meet our goal 100% we make absolutely nothing.

Gerald, circa 1970's
Gerald, circa 1970's

REWARDS:

“Martin, Mexico City, 2000.” by Allen FRAME
“Martin, Mexico City, 2000.” by Allen FRAME

HOW TO PLEDGE:

Click the green “Back This Project” button in the upper right-hand corner. You will be asked to input your pledge amount and select a reward. Next, complete the Amazon checkout process for your pledge to be recorded. If you have any problems, contact us at info@busybusbyfilms.org.

WANT TO MAKE A TAX-DEDUCTIBLE DONATION? CLICK HERE IT'S FAST:

http://www.composerscollab.org/busby.html

Composers Collaborative is our fiscal sponsor. 

TALK TO US

Want to back the entire project? Become the Executive Producer? Do you have footage or photos of Gerald you’d like us to see?

You can reach us at: info@busybusbyfilms.org

WE HOPE THAT YOU'LL BECOME A PART OF MAKING THIS FILM!

Gerald with Geraldine Chaplin and  Pat McCormick, on the set of Robert Altman's A Wedding, 1978
Gerald with Geraldine Chaplin and Pat McCormick, on the set of Robert Altman's A Wedding, 1978
Gerald with Ned Rorem (photograph courtesy of Theaterscene.net), Gerald with Virgil Thomson
Gerald with Ned Rorem (photograph courtesy of Theaterscene.net), Gerald with Virgil Thomson

Risks and challenges

We have the tools, the team, and the expertise to make a powerful and intimate portrayal of Gerald Busby and his ups and downs over the last three decades. We have the full support of, and access to, Gerald Busby. We also have the total cooperation of his many collaborators and friends. Over the last year we have dedicated ourselves to interviewing, filming, writing, editing and researching archival materials. Our team is composed of Pulitzer Prize nominated artist Craig Lucus, well known chorographer Richard Daniels, and filmmakers who have worked on films that have screened such festivals as Sundance and have aired on PBS.

WHERE DOES YOUR KICKSTARTER DOLLAR GO? The great thing about this project is that it's already in the works. With your help we will get it to the next level. We are continuing to film, write, and research, as well as write grant proposals. The money we raise on Kickstarter will go toward production and will be instrumental in moving us into the post-production phase of the film. We have already gathered so much material, and invested so much of our time, energy and own money, and have such a strong, committed production team, there is no doubt this film will be finished.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $1 or more About $1.00

    Thank you! You receive an email thank you from the team. We appreciate your donation! Please follow us on Facebook and Twitter - we will keep you posted on our progress!

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    Thank you! We will feature your name on our website's "CONTRIBUTORS" page!

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    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    Thank you! You will have access to a digital download of the film when it’s released, plus all of the above!

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    Pledge $40 or more About $40

    Thank you! You will have a SIGNED DVD of The Man on the Fifth Floor, plus all of the above!

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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    Thank you! You will have access to a special digital collection of original Gerald Busby compositions, plus all of the above!

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    Pledge $60 or more About $60

    Thank you! You'll receive a DVD containing 3 volumes of "Dances for an iPhone", plus all of above! "Dances for an iPhone" is an innovative way to look at and disseminate dance on camera. Dancers include: Carmen de Lavallade, Deborah Jowitt, Regina Larkin, Molissa Fenley, Jason McDole. Some of the dances are accompanied to original music by Gerald Busby.

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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    Thanks so much, you will have a limited edition “The Man on the Fifth Floor” t- shirt, plus all the $50 rewards!

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    Pledge $250 or more About $250

    Thanks so much, you will have a "The Man on the Fifth Floor" film poster signed by Director Jessica Robinson and Gerald Busby, plus all the $50 rewards!

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    Pledge $250 or more About $250

    A haircut by April Barton, SUITE 303 in the Chelsea Hotel plus all the $40 rewards. (you can make a reservation from Nov. 2012)

    April Barton is the stylist of choice for music, film, and fashion. Barton styles A-list celebrities like Matthew Modine, Adrien Brody, Jake Gyllenhaal as well as U2, Willie Nelson and Elvis Costello—to name a few. Suite 303 is still the best kept secret in NYC.

    http://www.suite303.com

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    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    A VERY SPECIAL THANK YOU! You'll receive a copy of the original score of the ballet "Runes" signed by Gerald Busby and choreographer Paul Taylor. The ballet premiered in Paris in 1975, and is still performed today. Plus a “Thank You” in the credits of our finished film and all the perks at our $50 level!

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    Pledge $550 or more About $550

    A VERY SPECIAL THANK YOU!
    Rare Opportunity to enjoy a private visit with Gerald inside the fabled Chelsea Hotel!
    You will visit Gerald, in his own room, and enjoy a private conversation. This will be an unforgettable afternoon. Go inside the Chelsea and pass through history, as this Queen Anne building was once the home of legends: Bob Dylan, Patti Smith, Janis Joplin, Leonard Cohen, Thomas Wolff, Larry Rivers. You will see the grand wrought iron staircase that extends upward 12 stories, and is considered to be the spine of this historic building. This is a special opportunity, as the Chelsea is only open to the few remaining tenants and their guests. So be our guest. (Maximum 2 guests at a time)

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    Pledge $700 or more About $700

    A VERY SPECIAL THANK YOU! You will have a dinner with Gerald Busby and director Jessica Robinson at a classic New York City restaurant, a “Thank You” in the credits of our finished film, plus all of the $50 rewards! **You must provide your own transportation to NYC** (Maximum 2 people)

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    Pledge $750 or more About $750

    A VERY SPECIAL THANK YOU! You'll receive a copy of the original score of “3 Women” signed by Gerald Busby, hand written in 1977 on 16x12 Yellow Pacific manuscript paper specifically created for film composers. You will also receive a “Thank You” in the credits of our finished film, and all of the $50 rewards!

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    Pledge $1,000 or more About $1,000

    MAJOR THANK YOU! You'll receive a print of an original Maurice Grosser 10x12 oil portrait of Gerald Busby. Grosser was a prominent member of the New York avant-garde, he collaborated with Gertrude Stein and Virgil Thomson on two operas, his paintings are owned by MOMA, The Brooklyn Museum, the Museum of Fine Art in Boston, and more. Plus a “Thank You” in the credits of the finished film, and all of the $50 rewards!

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    Pledge $1,000 or more About $1,000

    MAJOR THANK YOU! You will receive an original ALLEN FRAME photograph entitled “Martin, Mexico City, 2000.”

    "Martin, Mexico City, 2000," is a 16 x 20" silver gelatin photo by Frame from his monograph Detour, courtesy of Gitterman Gallery in New York. This portrait of a sensual young man lying in a hotel bed typifies Frame's interest in evoking an intense moment of desire in the sultry atmosphere of transient, tropical evenings.
    You will also receive a "Thank You" in the credits of the film, and all of the rewards at the $50 level!

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

    A HEARTY THANK YOU! you will receive handwritten sheet music of an original Gerald Busby composition created exclusively for this project. A “Thank You” in the credits of the finished film, plus all of the $50 rewards!

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    Pledge $10,000 About $10,000

    THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!! You will receive "Co-executive Producer" credit in the finished film, tickets to the New York City premiere of the film, as well as “The Man on the Fifth Floor” swag (DVDs, t-shirt, etc.)! ** You must provide transportation to and lodging in NYC.

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Funding period

- (38 days)