We all had a tour shirt. At least it seemed that way. That easily identifiable patch on either your crotch or across both breasts. That standard square logo you instantly recognized as the one and only, guaranteed to tear-your-face-off, unique, voice bending, galloping sound of time shifting riffs from the band know as the smalls. In a time before digital visibility and the worldwide web was a key part of your musical PR kit, this band set the Canadian standard for excellence in rabid curiosity and enigmatic mystery. Who were these giants in winter boots and John Deere hats? Why did the elvish singer often sing facing the drums, evasive? And how do I describe this sound to my friends next time they thunder through my town?
the smalls are briefly reuniting, after a 13 year hiatus. The timing is finally right for all four of them to return-- slightly. The timing is equally right for us to try and make a feature length experimental documentary of the experience. As a dedicated fan, friend, and working filmmaker with Corb Lund/CMT on occasion, the fit feels right to entrust me, Trevor, to capture the reunion, personalities, musical perspective from other critics and historical figures, rehearsals, festival dates, and fallout on film. It will be a full length cinematic study of a moment in time, of memory itself, and look back at the spectacle that was. It is timeless stubborn music that won't leave our mental registers.
THE IDEA We will make the most of what this return to form gives us. That’s why I find the tour title “Slight Return” so perfectly suited to also represent the film’s aesthetic. It is a return for me too, in a partial and tentative capacity. And a one-time only deal. I’m no longer the person I was in 1996 selling merch for the band in warehouses, playing drunken street hockey on beer-soaked venue floors at 3 in the morning, and offering our couches to strange import bands like Shallow North Dakota. And that’s also why I find the documentary title “Forever Is A Long Time” intriguing also. The last tour was called “Goodbye Forever”, but as the saying goes: time heals all wounds. And doors that felt closed to us, with the comforts of space and distraction, often crack open and regret, wistful desire, and historical curiosity often leak back in. I think the fundamental question, besides the obvious pure exploration of the band as a musical phenomenon and moment in pre-internet DIY history, is simply: Why do bands reunite? And what now, and for what reasons are the smalls back together? This key question can be tackled form many fascinating perspectives:
• The fans that have been begging for it. And our old shirts have all worn out and faded.
• A new generation of curious followers that want to see the musical urban legend in the flesh
• Corb’s puzzled country industry and fandom trying to connect the dots
• Old touring mates and musicologists eager to revisit their own memory and unreliable imaginations, diving back into a nineties psychological space personally and musically
• Each band member—why now for Dug, for Corb, Mike, and Terry?
WHY? Everyone has their reasons, and I am certain the angles from each band member are distinct and complex . By talking about the smalls, people will inevitably be talking about a period in time, a musical attitude, an unresolved experience, and a window in each of their own recollected histories. That’s the core of the film for me. Not just a proper document of a great and timeless band and sound, but through the act of reuniting (in a short and tactical fashion), open that door ajar for everyone, and see what lies in both the light and shadows of those past experiences. I want the film to be about memory, and the trigger of music within that experience of recollection. To a certain extent, after pouring through the old band’s archives, and when I cranked the smalls catalogue for my little girls (plugging their ears), I had to ask myself that question….. as a busy film professional. What am I going to get from this pursuit? And the answer is naturally complex. But I know that I want to do the band justice, create an honest record of a great sound, honour my own filmmaking standards, but also go into this as though I’m mid-twenties again and see what the fuck happens when I take off the blinders and just look and listen “to each a zone”. Come along.
WHO ARE WE? We are all co-creative Albertan filmmakers flying under the banner of Crowsnest Films on this venture. Trevor, founder of the project, himself has been a smalls hockey teammate, long-suffering co-Oilers fan, and early recordist for smalls videos and gigs in the Edmonton region. That trend continued when Corb Lund asked him to direct a number of music videos for the country star such as The Truth Comes Out, I Wanna Be In The Cavalry, and recently September. And, of course with none other than John and Sean's support, we delivered with many chart topping efforts. We are all busy as hell, shooting, editing, producing, art directing, and juggling multiple projects in many places. Out of necessity, and an open creative trust, we each instinctively share the narrative on this project and will jointly unravel the mystery. Trevor, John, and Sean have been working together on a myriad of motion pictures since 1997 (shorts, music videos, features, TV series, documentaries) but rather than list a long running set of gathered awards and accolades, we would rather let our pitch do the speaking. We encourage you to investigate us (ie. Sean is up for Music Video Director of The Year at this year's 2014 CCMAs). We are proud of the steps we've made and hope you will faithfully endorse this great documentary and exploration.
WHY KICKSTARTER? It is the right fit for the project. As Corb's tongue in cheek song affirms-- it's the right "tool for the job". the smalls legacy is about fandom and a musical movement. With this reunion, those fierce fires have been relit in many adoring friends and fans. We all want a little more. This is a documentary for and about the band, the fans, and the musical imprint they've left in Western Canada. We hope to put your earnest contribution onto the screen, against the hard costs of filmmaking and tour travel, and ensure that we don't miss any special moments through this journey. We have already been filming since May, in a completely deferred model, and are hitting a new level as things apex toward X-Fest, Sonic Boom, and beyond. 13 years of disconnect are fading away and an incredible sound and fury is imminent-- we have seen it in the rehearsals. Holy shit. Get ready. Kickstarter struck us all as the perfect medium to create a critical mass of interest for the film, and the best aggregate to amass big and small investment in the idea.
HOW WILL THE FUNDS BE USED? The $20,000 we need is to offset the hard, non-labour, costs of travelling with optimum cameras and quality sound to follow the band on this slight return. This will include detours to interview fans, colleagues, musicologists, and cultural experts in every market we hit along the way. The hard costs are all those non-sexy things like food, accommodations, flights, car rentals, hard drives, and related picture and sound equipment. The labour is paid for with passion. We are in it to win it.
Risks and challenges
The risk with any feature length documentary of expanding scope, drama, and exploration, is always closure. For us, this is less of a problem. The band is reuniting, for a small window of time so closure should be manageable....unless the band records a new album! ;) With all the provided archival material, fan and friend interviews, and musical perspective we hope to load into the documentary the next 3 months, we will have plenty.
The fulfillment piece, and most challenging piece of the production, is the editing and narrative construction. Many of you will look at the reward deliverables and wonder why it takes so long. Well the answer is simple: hundreds of hours of footage take a boatload of time to sort, log, and string into dramatic threads. Your contribution ensures that we have the core resources to get us impactful time with cameramen, sound mixers, and post-production support to maintain the high standards myself, John, and Sean expect from any work we invest in. Please please research us. Look at our reels and output. We are only as good as our last film, and I think we are all getting better every time we roll camera. This one is going to be the best, strangest, and raunchiest yet.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (32 days)