The Man on the Fifth Floor
The Man on the Fifth Floor
In the Chelsea Hotel every room has a story. This is a story of a prized composer's return from the void.
In the Chelsea Hotel every room has a story. This is a story of a prized composer's return from the void. Read more
About this project
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.
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.
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).
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
WANT TO MAKE A TAX-DEDUCTIBLE DONATION? CLICK HERE IT'S FAST:
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: email@example.com
WE HOPE THAT YOU'LL BECOME A PART OF MAKING THIS FILM!
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.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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